NASA prepares the revolution

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NASA directs its research towards new horizons and is based on… a large centrifuge. In a press release issued on April 6 by the site commercial wire, the US space agency announced the start of a collaboration with the young Californian company SpinLaunch. The goal is to test, from 2022, the capabilities of the project carried out by the company: shipments of satellites and objects in orbit thanks to the kinetic force caused by a centrifuge. with the signature of a Space Law AgreementNASA will be able to contribute its experience while analyzing the possibilities offered by this innovative system.

An ecological and economical solution

Founded in 2014, the company SpinLaunch advocates an ecological and economic evolution of space exploration. His system is based on a massive structure called a “mass accelerator”. orbital ” (either L100 Orbital Mass Accelerator, in English). This titanic drum, 50 meters high and 33 meters in diameter, has a large arm inside to which a projectile would be attached. The rotation of the arm, gradually gaining speed, would increase theKinetic energy of the object to be propelled into space.

Once the velocity was high enough, the projectile would be launched vertically from a tube adjacent to the drum, similar to a Fireplace. The force caused by the rotation of the object would potentially reach between 9,000 and 10,000 G. Comparatively, the force exerted on the astronauts taking off in a capsule Soyuz it is equivalent to 5G.

One of the advantages of the system developed by SpinLaunch is its ecological aspect: launches consume approximately 70% less fuel than takeoffs from En général, un lanceur se compose de plusieurs étages (fusée gigogne ou composite).
Chaque étage comporte :• un ou deux réservoirs (carburant et comburant) ou…” data-url=”” data-more=”Lire la suite”>pitchers
traditional. The company’s CEO, Jonathan Yanley, claimed that SpinLaunch was a real alternative to rockets pollutants in the face of the constant increase in missions to space, with the sending navy satellite What Ensemble de petits satellites…” data-url=”” data-more=”Lire la suite”>constellations star link OneWeb. Therefore, these devices would require less fuel to adjust their positions once in low orbit.

At the same time, the SpinLaunch centrifuge is also intended to be economical, allowing satellites to be launched into space at a lower cost. Depending on the vehicle used and the cargo carried, putting a probe into orbit can cost several million euros, or even tens of millions. Thus a ariana 5 it can carry almost 20 tons of payload for the modest sum of 170 million euros. SpinLaunch wants to reduce these hefty fees, capped at $500,000 per launch.

Launch imminent for SpinLaunch?

The SpinLaunch centrifuge is only in its experimental phase, but a first test carried out in October 2021 demonstrated the viability of the project. An object three meters high had been propelled to 10,000 meters above sea level, at a speed of more than 8,000 kilometers per hour. A first success for the company, as engineers noted that the centrifuge had only run at 20% of its theoretical maximum power.

The collaboration between NASA and SpinLaunch could accelerate the development of the project. The firm had previously indicated that, to send satellites from 200 kg in space, the diameter of the centrifuge had to increase proportionally to reach a hundred meters. SpinLaunch and the space agency are expected to conduct a first joint test sometime in 2022.

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