SpinLaunchThe technique of sending a payload into orbit, which uses centrifugal force to hurl mass into space, has attracted its fair share of skeptics. But at least some of those skeptics are likely a little quieter today, as the company announced a landmark new round of funding to accelerate the commercialization of its kinetic launch system.
The company’s latest funding round totaled $71 million, including equity and debt, and brings SpinLaunch’s total funding to $150 million. The Series B round was led by ATW Partners and included participation from Kleiner Perkins, GV, ATMA Capital, ONA Capital, Lauder Partners, McKinley Capital, Tyche Partners, as well as John Doerr, Brooke Byers, Asher Delug, Chuck Brady, Andrew Farkas and Greg McAdoo.
SpinLaunch wants to completely transform the way we move things into space. TechCrunch first considered the idea in 2018, when the company came out of stealth. The launch system works like this: Instead of using a conventional rocket to propel things vertically into orbit, SpinLaunch wants to use an aerodynamic launch vehicle attached to a rotating arm in a large vacuum chamber. This arm will spin faster and faster until it launches the vehicle into space at about 5000 MPH.
The company has already conducted test launches using a 33-meter system it calls a “suborbital mass accelerator” — during which they shot a payload north of 1,000 MPH to almost 30,000 feet — and they entered into an agreement with NASA for further testing.
“We have completed nine successful flight tests to date, removing technical risk as we prepare the way for the construction of our full-size orbital launch system,” CEO Jonathan Yanni said in a statement. This full-scale system is expected to be three times the size of the suborbital mass accelerator. SpinLaunch is also developing a mass-produced line of satellite products, presumably ones that are G-hardened enough to withstand the incredible G-forces likely to be generated during launch.
The company said it aims to put satellites into orbit using its system by 2026. Although all tests have been conducted at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the company is in final selection for its first orbital launch site.