Space

New video gives first-person view of what it's like to be SpinLaunched

New video gives first-person view of what it's like to be SpinLaunched
SpinLaunch has released onboard footage from its eighth kinetic launch test
SpinLaunch has released onboard footage from its eighth kinetic launch test
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SpinLaunch has released onboard footage from its eighth kinetic launch test
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SpinLaunch has released onboard footage from its eighth kinetic launch test

SpinLaunch has released on-board footage from its eighth suborbital flight test, giving us a unique opportunity to imagine what it'd be like to be hurled skyward out of a centrifugal accelerator at more than a thousand miles per hour.

Rockets are big, dangerously explosive, and environmentally hazardous – and there are other ways to get stuff up into orbit. Green Launch, for example, is planning to get satellites into orbit within just 10 minutes, by replacing the first-stage rocket booster with a hydrogen-powered hypersonic impulse launch cannon that can fire a launch vehicle upwards at more than 17 times the speed of sound.

SpinLaunch, on the other hand, is planning to throw launch vehicles skyward like some sort of space discus, from the end of a mechanical arm that will accelerate them up to enormous velocities in a vacuum chamber using electric motors, before releasing them to burst through a seal and hurtle upwards at speeds that will eventually surpass Mach 6. These will get the vehicles up about as high as a traditional first-stage rocket, for a greatly reduced cost and environmental impact, after which a smaller second-stage rocket can take over to propel it to its final orbital destination.

SpinLaunch's kinetic launch facility at Spaceport America, new Mexico is now doing "regular" sub-orbital test launches with exit velocities over 1,000 mph
SpinLaunch's kinetic launch facility at Spaceport America, new Mexico is now doing "regular" sub-orbital test launches with exit velocities over 1,000 mph

With a test facility built, several test launches already complete and NASA looking to evaluate the technology, SpinLaunch has now released onboard video from its first optical payload – a 3-meter-long (9.8-ft) test vehicle that was thrown skywards on the 22nd April at a launch speed of over 1,000 mph (1,609 km/h, Mach 1.3). While no altitude data was given about this launch, the previous test launch vehicle reached somewhere around 30,000 ft (9,150 m).

The dizzying footage shows the inside of the launch chamber briefly, before the projectile bursts out the top of the launch tube and the ground begins receding at a sickening rate. This kind of thing will never be used for human spaceflights, since the g-loads on the launch vehicle will be epic, up to and over 10,000 gs, while humans struggle to survive acceleration loads of just 9 g for more than a few seconds. SpinLaunch will only be appropriate for specially prepared payloads that can withstand these forces – not to mention the heat generated by hypersonic flight through thick low-altitude air.

So this kind of footage is the closest you'll likely get to being kinetically flung into space.

Flight Test #8 – With Camera Onboard

Source: SpinLaunch

8 comments
8 comments
paul314
For the most part, it's exactly the kind of stuff that can withstand 10,000 g's that isn't generally high-value enough to be worth launching with conventional methods. (And potted electronics, of course.)
Edward Vix
Not impressed, just use a cannon, the concept proposed by Jules Verne a long, long time ago.
aksdad
Based on an initial velocity of 1,609 km/h and ignoring drag, the maximum altitude would have been about 10 km, probably less. Thank you, Isaac Newton.
Stavos
I like their front gate!
BlueOak
… and the armchair engineers never fail to disappoint. If the end of that launch footage is legit, the altitude looks to be in excess of 10,000 feet - for a smaller scale test launcher. Certainly building payloads that can handle those g-forces will be a challenge. But as with any experimental technology, there might be other spin-off benefits - perhaps launching weapons payloads to conserve launch fuel. And those payloads would not necessarily have to reach space.
BlueOak
Agreed, @Stavos, cool front gate!
LiamKoot
It's a decent enough idea, I just don't know how well a 2nd stage rocket assembly is meant to survive a 10,000g's launch. The extra material and over-engineering would probably make the mass of the 2nd stage un-economical and seriously limit payload capacity. Rockets explode on the launch pad from falling over, now imagine taking one and shaking it up in the mother of all centrifuge's. Credit where its due, the ability to release it at the right time and the engineering that makes it work as shown is really impressive. Just not sure how they would get it to do more than what is shown in the video.
Grunchy
Loz covered the space cannon last month:
https://newatlas.com/space/greenlaunch-space-cannon-gas-launch/