SpinLaunch Raises $71M – SpaceNews

PARIS — SpinLaunch, a company developing a launch system that uses a centrifuge as a first stage, raised $71 million to continue work on that system and a series of satellites.

Long Beach, Calif.-based SpinLaunch announced on September 20 that it had raised funding in a Series B round led by ATW Partners with participation from multiple other funds and individuals. The round is a mix of debt and equity, but the company hasn’t disclosed the split between the two.

The company has so far raised $150 million to fund work on a unique launch system that uses a centrifuge to accelerate vehicles to supersonic speeds. The vehicles will then use rocket engines, like conventional upper stages, to launch payloads into orbit. SpinLaunch argues that the approach can allow for much higher flight speeds than conventional rockets while being more environmentally friendly.

“We share the company’s goal of realizing the full potential of the space economy by developing a revolutionary space launch system that is both highly cost-effective and environmentally sustainable,” said Wen Hsieh, general partner at Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm, in a statement at the funding round took part.

SpinLaunch built a smaller version of its 33 meter diameter centrifuge for suborbital testing at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The system launched its first vehicle in October 2021 and has conducted nine tests so far, although it has disclosed few details about the speed and peak height of those tests.

“SpinLaunch’s mission is to provide the world with affordable and sustainable access to space. With the completion of our 33-meter suborbital mass accelerator, we’ve taken a major step in that direction,” said Jonathan Yaney, Chief Executive of SpinLaunch, “retiring engineering risk while we pave the way for the construction of our large accelerator orbital launch system.”

The company plans to begin orbital launches as early as 2026 using a much larger 100-meter diameter accelerator, but hasn’t revealed where that accelerator will be based. It won’t be at Spaceport America because of overflight issues, said Randy Villahermosa, vice president of product and space systems at SpinLaunch, during a Sept. 14 presentation at the Small Payload Ride Share Association’s annual symposium.

While the orbital centrifuge won’t be ready until 2026, Villahermosa mentioned in his presentation that the company is planning “an interim service around 2024 that will use some of our satellite and launch technology.” He didn’t elaborate on the service, but said the company will release more details in the coming months.

In addition to the launch system, SpinLaunch is working on optimized satellites. These include a 12U Cubesat bus and a 200-kilogram satellite, the latter matching the orbital system’s payload capacity. A 12U Cubesat prototype will launch as early as January, he said, but will disclose the launch provider.

The company is developing the satellites in part to meet anticipated demand for launch services, which could exceed what current satellite manufacturers can meet. The orbital system is designed for up to 10 launches per day and 2,000 per year. “We anticipate there will not be enough industrial base to support our launch system, but there is a lot of demand,” he said.

The satellites are also specifically designed for the orbital system, where the centrifuge accelerates payloads to 10,000g. SpinLaunch has also tested satellite components and found that many cope with the launch environment despite these accelerations, partly because acceleration occurs in a vacuum and therefore there are no random vibrations from the acoustics.

“We often get asked about the Gs,” he said. “It’s a very gentle 10,000g.”

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