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