Into space without a rocket: American SpinLaunch is developing an electromagnetic "catapult"


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Into space without a rocket: American SpinLaunch is developing an electromagnetic "catapult"

Until now, the launch of spacecraft uses the good old processes of burning chemical fuel, and you have to take a lot of it with you on board, which reduces the payload. There is no alternative to this, although the appearance of an air launch could reduce the need for fuel and make the launch cheaper. By the way, fresh thoughts appeared on this issue.

SpinLaunch Launcher Prototype

Recently, the Wired website talked about the activities of the young company SpinLaunch and even tried to substantiate the project of this developer from the point of view of physics. According to SpinLaunch, satellites weighing up to 100 kg could be launched without a launch vehicle – using a large electromagnetic centrifuge. The satellite spins in a centrifuge in a vacuum to the desired speed, and then the gateway opens, and the apparatus shoots out of the sling into space.

Sounds incredible? However, several serious companies have already invested in SpinLaunch, including Alphabet (Google) and Airbus. Last summer, they and other investors gave SpinLaunch $ 40 million.

According to the preliminary SpinLaunch project, the launcher will be 100 meters in diameter. At launch, a satellite weighing up to 100 kg (plus, probably, a service platform of a similar weight) will rotate at a speed of 450 rpm. The promotion should take 1 hour 30 minutes. The launch angle is 35 degrees. The speed of the device at the time of separation from the centrifuge will be about 7500 km / h. This value is not enough to enter a low orbit, so the SpinLaunch project still provides for the inclusion of auxiliary engines in the atmosphere at an altitude of about 60 km.

Theoretically, a similar launch is possible. The company claims that they will be able to carry out several launches per day at a price of up to $ 500 thousand per start. This is about 20 times cheaper than using booster rockets. But technical problems remain. For example, at the time of separation, the acceleration will be up to 10 thousand g, which not all equipment can withstand, and, of course, not a person. For humans, the limit is an acceleration of 10 g. Also a problem will be a blow to the atmosphere at the time of exit and friction against the air, which makes the highest demands on the materials of the projectile.

SpinLaunch Launcher Design

According to leaks, the first trial launch of SpinLaunch may occur before the end of this year. The first commercial launch is due to take place in 2022. Really succeed?

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