Top-Secret California Space Start-Up SpinLaunch Receives Additional $35 Million for Mysterious 'High-Speed Vehicle'

Monday, 27 January 2020 - 12:05PM
Technology
Military Tech
Monday, 27 January 2020 - 12:05PM
Top-Secret California Space Start-Up SpinLaunch Receives Additional $35 Million for Mysterious 'High-Speed Vehicle'
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Credit: U.S. Army illustration/Public domain

A California space start-up just secured $35 million in funding to launch satellites using "a high-speed vehicle," according to Forbes. This brings the total amount of funding for SpinLaunch up to $80 million, with investments from some of the biggest names in aerospace and a government contract, too.


SpinLaunch debuted in 2014 but has remained shrouded in secrecy. Their website bears little more than their logo superimposed over a looped video of Earth as seen from low orbit, and two small links: A contact email and their current job openings.


What we do know is that their launch technology harnesses kinetic energy (the energy of motion) – and specifically, angular momentum – to accelerate their rockets up to hypersonic speeds of at least Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.


Here's a quick primer on angular momentum from Minute Physics on YouTube:





By utilizing angular momentum, SpinLaunch aims to reduce the amount of fuel required to launch a rocket – thus, radically reducing costs. This would enable them to launch as often as five times per day, according to current estimates.


"SpinLaunch fills this gap by providing dedicated orbital launch with high frequency at a magnitude lower cost than any current 'niche' launch system," their CEO, Jonathan Yaney, said in a statement earlier this year. He added that his company aims to address the need for "inexpensive small satellites for disaster monitoring, weather, reconnaissance, communications and other services" in low-Earth orbit.


Despite the relative secrecy surrounding the company, their technology has drawn high-level attention from those who are allowed to see it. This summer, SpinLaunch secured a contract with the United States Department of Defense. This latest round of investment funders includes names like Airbus Ventures and Google Ventures. The first launch is widely believed to be slated for 2022.


"This will truly be a disruptive enabler for the emerging commercial space industry," Yaney concluded.


 

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