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The main goal of commercial space companies that provide launch services for Earth orbit is to do so at a lower cost.
For this purpose, and in order to encourage the commercialization of LEO, entrepreneurs have turned to reusable rockets, 3D printing, air launch vehicles, and more.
However, there is one concept that really seems very strange! This modern concept is known as a “mass accelerator”, which is a “space launch system” that runs on kinetic energy rather than chemical rockets.
And according to the website of the American magazine “Inverse”, the commercial space company “Spinlaunch” recently conducted the first test launch of a “sub-orbital accelerator”, and the success of this vertical test is an essential starting point towards establishing the company’s “orbital launch system”, which will soon make regular launches of payloads. .
The company built the “suborbital accelerator” with a diameter of 33 meters, the longest instrument of its kind in the world, at a cost of $38 million.
This system is a scale model of one third of the “orbital launch system” currently under development, but it relies on the same components.
Similar to the Orbital Launch System, it uses a hermetically sealed centrifuge to spin the rocket and then blasts it into space at speeds of up to 8000 kilometers per hour. Rotating kinetic energy comes from geoelectricity provided by solar and wind energy.
Once the missile reaches a height of approximately 61,000 meters, the missile ignites its engines to reach a speed of 28,200 kilometers per hour, all the way to low Earth orbit.
If successful, this system is expected to significantly reduce the cost and energy associated with sending payloads into space while increasing the frequency of launches. According to forecasts, the “orbital launch system” will reduce the cost of the individual space launched by a factor of 20.
NASA has been developing this technology through the Marshall Flight Center and the Kennedy Space Center.
The test took place on October 22, 2021, with the suborbital accelerator in operation at the company’s flight test facility at Spaceport America in the deserts of New Mexico. For this test, the suborbital accelerator was operated at up to 20% of its total capacity, and was reported to have fired a 3-meter passive self-guided projectile at an altitude of thousands of kilometers.
The company will go ahead with the development of its full accelerator, which will have a diameter of 100 meters and will be able to deliver payloads in the range of 20 to 200 kilograms. The payload types envisaged by the team include different types of satellites, space solar arrays, and electric propulsion units.
“Even smartphones, action cameras and unmodified telescope lenses survived without any damage,” the company reported.
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