Catapult sends NASA satellites into the sky

SpinLaunch has announced a new test success. During the 10th successful launch, the company tested for the first time a sub-orbital payload trajectory from third-party companies. Test launch participants include NASA, Airbus, Cornell University and satellite developer Outpost.

The test was conducted at Spaceport America in New Mexico on September 27th. The current launch is part of the company’s comprehensive program to test how scientific payloads and satellites will withstand the overloads they will experience during full orbital launch.

Before launch, the payload orbits the company’s suborbital booster at 10,000 g’s. After gaining the required speed, the accelerator throws them into the sky. The SpinLaunch report notes that the latest flight demonstrated that the satellite components used are “compatible with the company’s launch environment.”

Test run payload. Image: SpinLaunch

SpinLaunch revealed few specific details about the test flight, although it said its trajectory was similar to its previous tests, which flew at 9,150m. Back in May, the company added an optical payload to its launch system to record its test flights from the first faces. The collected data will be analyzed by the company’s specialists together with the test partners.

The first flight tests of SpinLaunch took place in November 2021, and the company has been developing the entire system since 2015. The test suborbital booster used in these tests is a prototype with a diameter of 33 m for a future full-size 100-meter facility. The company plans to complete its creation by 2026.

Scheme of the structure of the installation for orbital launch. Image: SpinLaunch

The circular booster is electrically powered, which uses a mechanical arm to move payloads in a circle to achieve incredibly high speeds. They then fire their payload through a launch tube into space.

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UPD 05.10.2022: There was a mistake in the first version of the publication. During the 10th flight test, SpinLaunch did not launch the payload into orbit, but sent it to a suborbital flight.

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