SpinLaunch Signs Space Act Demo; Teases More Customers, Partners

Credit: SpinLaunch

SpinLaunch, which conducted its first test flight from its Suborbital Accelerator at Spaceport America last October, has signed a Space Act agreement with NASA to demonstrate its lofting system this year.

The Long Beach, California, startup said April 6 the agency and the company will together analyze the data from the suborbital launch effort and assess the system for future flight opportunities. After full review, NASA and SpinLaunch will publish all nonproprietary launch environment information from the test flight, the company said.

“SpinLaunch is offering a unique suborbital flight and high-speed testing service, and the recent launch agreement with NASA marks a key inflection point as SpinLaunch shifts focus from technology development to commercial offerings,” said Jonathan Yaney, founder and CEO of SpinLaunch. 

The program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and evaluation of technologies to be tested on commercial flight vehicles.

The NASA showcase comes as SpinLaunch expects to conduct about 30 suborbital test flights through the middle of this year. The 50.4-m-tall (165.3-ft.) electric-powered Suborbital Accelerator in New Mexico’s spaceport is intended primarily as a testbed for a larger orbital launch system for satellites up to 200 kg (440 lb.). The projectile is attached to the end of a carbon-fiber tether and spun up to supersonic speed, then released though an exit tunnel at the selected launch angle.

SpinLaunch intends to significantly lower launch costs and be able to fly multiple times daily by using ground-based energy for its rockets’ initial performance boost. The company, which was founded in 2014, has said the launch system will have no negative environmental impacts.

In 2019 it unveiled its first launch contract with the U.S. military’s Defense Innovation Unit, also known as DIU. “We look forward to announcing more partners and customers soon, and greatly appreciate NASA’s continued interest and support in SpinLaunch,” Yaney said in the latest announcement.

The company has said first orbital test launches are planned for 2025.

Michael Bruno

Based in Washington, Michael Bruno is Aviation Week Network’s Executive Editor for Business. He oversees coverage of aviation, aerospace and defense businesses, supply chains and related issues.