Start-up SpinLaunch has an innovative way of demonstrating how we can send payloads into orbit without the need for chemical propellent from the get-go. Basically, spin the payload incredibly fast in a very large centrifuge, then let it go on the right trajectory and speed to reach space. For their latest test, they added a camera so you can see what it looks like being shot into space, and the results are dizzying.
The company has conducted several tests with its suborbital mass accelerator, reaching velocities that break the speed of sound and an altitude close to a jetliner. Their eighth test, conducted on April 22, is particularly exciting because they included an optical payload on the 3-meter (10-foot) long projectile – meaning they put a camera on board.
Thanks to that, you can now experience what it would be like to be spun around by a 33-meter (108-feet) centrifuge and then hurled into the sky. The queasiness-inducing footage shows the camera spinning in the centrifuge before being launched, and then the whole rocket spins as it leaves the ground behind. This spinning is actually on purpose to add additional stability in flight.
The projectile hurtled upwards at over 1,600 kilometers per hour (1,000 miles per hour), reaching a height of 7,620 meters (25,000 feet), with the flight lasting around 82 seconds.
Incredibly, the A-33 Suborbital Mass Accelerator is actually operating at a fraction of its maximum capacity. The full centrifuge will be three times as big and will shoot the payload out at a higher speed. The rockets will get to about 60 kilometers (200,000 feet) before igniting their engines and getting on their way to space.
The acceleration experienced by the payload is about 10,000 g so not for human consumption but this approach is expected to reduce the cost of launching things into space by a factor of 20, to less than $500,000 per launch.