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NASA Builds a Giant Slingshot For Tossing Satellites Into Space

by Arif
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Named as the Spin Launch suborbital accelerator, the space throwing slingshot has had over 10 successful testing

Remember watching cartoons where the force of a simple slingshot was able to send characters into outer space? Well, that is a reality now, but calm down this one doesn’t throw living beings into the unknown.

NASA with its giant slingshot named SpinLaunch suborbital accelerator is now able to toss objects into outer space. This mostly includes satellites built for space research or other purposes such as radio and internet.

To measure the Spin Launch’s capability to hurl out objects without damaging them, the company conducted 10 tests in the last one year. The slingshot passed all of them successfully and proved that it can beat the earth’s gravitational force while also not damaging sensitive equipment.

The current version of the Spin Launch measures around 108ft (33-meter) in width and has a rapidly rotating arm inside. This arm rapidly rotates the object and throws it out once it has enough kinetic energy. The slingshot throws at a height 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) but has plans to increase it in the future.

Once built at a much grander scale, the company hopes for sending payloads as high as 200,000 feet (60,000 meters). As a comparison, an average plane flies at 36,000 feet (11,000 meters).

The most recent space slingshot was done for  NASA, Airbus, Cornell University, and satellite manufacturer Outpost Space. It turned out to be massively successful and opened up a lot of new possibilities.

Spin Launch’s current facility is 1/3 of the size it plans to build in the future. The company started out by Jonathan Yaney in 2014 and has gathered up to $150 million in fundings. Despite being a simple concept, the spin launch was very hard to execute but once done at a larger scale, it will bring down satellite and rocket fuel costs by almost half.

“The data and insights collected from flight tests will be invaluable for both Spin Launch. As we further the development of the Orbital Launch system, and for our customers who are looking to us to provide them with low-cost, high-cadence, sustainable access to space” said founder and CEO Yaney.

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