January 17th, 2019 by Jennifer Sensiba
SpinLaunch, a startup company that aims to electrify space launches, chose Spaceport America in New Mexico for its initial operations. Spaceport America announced that this would bring additional jobs to the region.
Unlike most spacelaunch companies, SpinLaunch hopes to stop relying on fossil fuels or other chemical rockets to launch objects into space. With its abundant sunshine and, in some areas, abundant wind, an electric launch system placed in southern New Mexico could greatly reduce the environmental and climatological impacts of space launches.
Not many details have been released, but according to the company’s press release, the system would place loads onto a rapidly spinning centrifuge, not unlike an ancient sling weapon, and release the load toward space at over 5,000 miles per hour. It is unclear whether chemical rockets would then be used to achieve escape velocity and then orbit.
The other benefit to this system is that it could be used to shorten the time between launches, with the possibility of several launches per day once implemented.
Combined with Spaceport America’s existing sustainable building practices, this launch system could be a win for the environment and a win for southern New Mexico.
Spaceport America has had a rocky past when it comes to getting launch companies to utilize the facility. Local taxpayers and state officials invested millions in the facility, only to see a number of possible partners sign up and then abandon their plans. Privacy concerns seem to be an issue for potential users due to the competitive, and sometimes secretive, nature of the industry. The state’s open record laws have put the facility’s management in a bind, where releasing too little to the public may violate state law while releasing too much information can drive away launch companies.
Spaceport America is located near the ghost town of Upham, New Mexico, on the ancient Jornada del Muerto, a trail used by the Spanish when colonizing the region. The nearest major towns are Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Images by SpinLaunch
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