NASA has partnered with space tech company SpinLaunch to test a mass accelerator launch system for satellites.
Specifically, SpinLaunch has produced an enormous suborbital mass accelerator with a 300-foot diameter (about 91m) steel vacuum chamber. For reference, this is about one-sixth the height of 1800-foot Toronto’s CN Tower (about 550m). The device leverages its massive size to rotate its arm at speeds of up 5,000mph (about 8050 km/h) to launch a given item.
In this case, NASA aims to use the mass accelerator to send satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). NASA says this method is more than 70 percent more fuel-efficient than a traditional rocket and will help meet demand for LEO satellite constellations to monitor disasters, weather, national security and more.
SpinLaunch will manifest and fly NASA’s first payload on a developmental test flight later this year, with the first actual orbital test launches planned for 2025.