The post was originally published in Russian on Startup of the Day. Alexander kindly agreed to republish what we think is of great value to our readers.
A siege mechanism is entitled to be called a trebuchet only when it was manufactured in the Trebuche province. Otherwise, it’s nothing short of a leverage catapult. (*)
We fly into space on rockets. The engine burns fuel, the fumes fly back out, a Proton or a Falcon moves up. This way is extremely complicated, extremely expensive, extremely dangerous, and absolutely unfriendly toward the environment. Its only advantage is that there is no other way yet.
SpinLaunch, the American startup of the day, stresses the word ‘yet’ in this saying. It wants to launch cargo into space in a new way. An electric engine spins a gigantic wheel with a capsule attached. At a certain moment, the device reaches the necessary speed, the capsule disconnects and flies up by momentum. If the acceleration was sufficient and the direction was correct, then it flies directly into the orbit. Smaller engines will finetune the movement up there.
The advantages of such an approach are apparent. There is no toxic fuel, nothing can explode. The energy is taken from somewhere far away in the cleanest way possible. No need to carry the fuel up high, i.e. spend money and energy in vain, and here we depart from the exp in Tsiolkovsky’s equation. But naturally, there are a million technical complications making it not so simple to realize the concept, there’s a reason why we still fly on rockets.
The project began in 2013, first successful tests were in 2021. The startup promises to launch commercially in 2025. It brought in USD 146M throughout its history.
(*) Not really. The word has an entirely different etymology, and there’s no such province.
#usa #megaround #tech #space
Translation: Kostiantyn Tupikov
Alexander made his career in Russian internet companies including Mail.Ru, Rambler, RBC. From 2016 to 2018 he was Chief Strategy and Analytics officer in Mail.Ru Group. In this position, he worked on M&A, investments, and new project launches. In 2018 he became Deputy CEO in Citymobil, a Russian Uber-like company that was invested by Mail.Ru Group and Sberbank (the biggest Russian bank), then he left the company to launch his own projects. Now Alexander is a co-founder of United Investors – the platform for co-investments in Russian early-stage startups. His blog #startupoftheday (#стартапдня) is one of the most popular blogs about startups in Russia.