JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 53

Slinging rockets into space

The engineer's greatest criticism
concerned the forces exerted on
the rocket in the centrifuge. As
the rocket whirls around, it will
be subjected to forces ten thousand times as strong as gravity.
A typical rocket is subjected
to no more than 5-7 times the
force of gravity during its voyage to outer space. "No rocket
could survive this, nor could the
electronics inside the rocket," said
Dan Erwin, aerospace engineer
at the University of Southern
California.
Whetting curiosity
with a far-fetched idea
In late 2014, SpinLaunch
founder Jonathan Yaney had an
idea - and four million dollars
to make it a reality. He turned
to Ryan Hampton, a master in
construction and industrial operations, and convinced him to
join the venture in 2015. The
small-scale model that he first
saw didn't look like much, as
Hampton himself admitted.
However, he still decided to use
his welding expertise to create
a first centrifuge tank that had
to be placed in a huge vacuum
chamber to protect the system
from air turbulence and stabilize it as it turned. Once some
pumps and $500,000 worth
of steel had been acquired, the
team laboured eight months to
make the world's sixth-largest
(in diameter) vacuum chamber.
They finished their first centrifuge in 2016. With a diameter
of 40 feet (12.19 metres), it is
still too small to fling a rocket
into space, but the basic concept
is the same. A long arm, called
a tether, extends from a motor-driven bearing coated in oil.
The payload is attached to the
end of the tether. To withstand
the extreme stresses it will have
to withstand, the tether will

Engineers cluster
around SpinLaunch's
first orbital rocket
©Spinlaunch

have to be made of ultra-strong
materials like carbon fibre and
Kevlar®.
After two years of working 12
hours a day, six days a week, the
SpinLaunch team was finally
ready to fire up its first real centrifuge. "We were all huddled into
a room about 50 feet away behind
a bunch of monitors and cameras,"
said Mr. Yaney. They checked
that the system was in good
shape, and then fired away. "We
just hit the throttle and broke the
world record for the fastest rotational system."
Over the next few years, the
team carried out hundreds of
high-speed tests. Most of them
were designed to study and improve the system, but some were
meant to reassure the sceptical
investors and potential customers who didn't believe that a
payload could withstand the extreme forces. The team sent solar
cells, radio systems, telescope
lenses, batteries, GPS modules
and control computers spinning
around at high speed. All passed
the test with little or no damage.
In one test, Yaney attached an
iPhone to the tether and spun
it until it was subjected to forces
10,000 times stronger than gravity. He then used the phone to
FaceTime with a colleague. Each
test was a step, however small,
towards space.

Large investors that include
Airbus Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and GV (part of Alphabet),
have endorsed the project, injecting 80 million dollars in the
company. And last year, the U.S.
Department of Defense awarded a contract to SpinLaunch to
help it develop its centrifuge.
In a press release announcing
the latest investment, Mr. Yaney stressed how appreciative
the SpinLaunch team was for
the support received from a
strong group of investors, one
that shares the vision for lowcost launching of imaging and
communication constellations
to protect the planet and its inhabitants.
"Later this year," he added, "our
aim is to change space-launch
history with the completion of our
first test mass accelerator and test
flight at Spaceport America."
According to Mr. Yaney, the
company could start operational launches by 2022. Some
of the initial flights could be financed by the U.S. Army. Last
year, SpinLaunch announced
that he had received a prototype
launch contract from the Department of Defense.

a coastal launch site to keep the
rockets from endangering civilians. Finding an appropriate
location turned out to be more
difficult than anticipated.
Following unsuccessful negotiations to set up in Hawaï, SpinLaunch opened its activities
last May at Spaceport America in New Mexico, where it is
currently building a centrifuge
three times larger than the one
in Los Angeles. Their stated goal
is to carry out the first suborbital flight tests later this year by
launching projectiles weighing
about 110 lbs (49-50 kg). The
tests would be a significant step,
given the 11-pound payloads it
has been experimenting with so
far.
Launching even a single one
would be a major accomplishment. The story of private
launch companies is mostly
one of failure. Space exploration demands being bold
enough to venture into the unknown, and in SpinLaunch's
case, the unknown is vast.
What there is to gain, however, is nothing less than opening
a new portal to the cosmos.
	

The long road to space
Physics is not the only obstacle
on the company's path. Ultimately, SpinLaunch will require

More information:
www.spinlaunch.com
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.
com/index.php?topic=45852.180

N°136 September - October 2020

/ jec composites magazine

53


http://www.spinlaunch.com https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=45852.180

JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020

Cover
Edito
“We can change the way we envision global shipping overall”
Contents
NEWS
In brief
Agenda
BUSINESS
Reinforcement - Natural-fibre composites: an overview
Startup - When 3D printing meets sustainability
China - Xinzhou bets on the bamboo-based composites industry
MANUFACTURING
Wind - lnnovation in wind power through multi-process-capable systems
Automation - Higher production capacity thanks to automated manufacturing
FEATURE Sustainability - The path has been plotted
Recycling ecosystem - Composites recycling: in search of the circular economy
Mobility - A new generation of recycled composite materials for sustainable mobility
Preimpregnated textile - Healable composites to improve circularity
Process - New trends in composites and plastics recycling
Raw materials - Innovative composites made from up to 92% reclaimed materials
Construction - Biocomposites and automation: a sustainable future for the building industry
Ressources - Waste-free composite wheel production
Wind energy - From bottle to blade
Durable composites - Upcycling plastic bottles into value-added composite applications
Matrix - Novel thermoset composites for more competitive and sustainable industries
SOLUTIONS
Aerospace - Slinging rockets into space
Aerospace - Composites push back the final frontier
Railway - Composite overhead line catenary system for light rail
TECHNOLOGY
Repair - Developing an eddy current-based sensor system for quality assurance of carbon fibres
Inside the lab - Advanced Composite Materials Facility University of Southampton
Resin - Development of new type of plastics: Polypropylene 2.0
Index
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JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Cover
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 2
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Edito
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - “We can change the way we envision global shipping overall”
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 5
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Contents
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 7
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - In brief
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 9
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 10
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Agenda
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Reinforcement - Natural-fibre composites: an overview
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 13
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Startup - When 3D printing meets sustainability
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 15
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - China - Xinzhou bets on the bamboo-based composites industry
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 17
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Wind - lnnovation in wind power through multi-process-capable systems
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 19
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 20
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 21
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Automation - Higher production capacity thanks to automated manufacturing
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 23
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 24
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 25
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Recycling ecosystem - Composites recycling: in search of the circular economy
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 27
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 28
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 29
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 30
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Mobility - A new generation of recycled composite materials for sustainable mobility
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 32
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Preimpregnated textile - Healable composites to improve circularity
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 34
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 35
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Process - New trends in composites and plastics recycling
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 37
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Raw materials - Innovative composites made from up to 92% reclaimed materials
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 39
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Construction - Biocomposites and automation: a sustainable future for the building industry
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 41
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Ressources - Waste-free composite wheel production
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 43
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Wind energy - From bottle to blade
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 45
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Durable composites - Upcycling plastic bottles into value-added composite applications
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 47
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Matrix - Novel thermoset composites for more competitive and sustainable industries
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 49
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 50
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Aerospace - Slinging rockets into space
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 52
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 53
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Aerospace - Composites push back the final frontier
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 55
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Railway - Composite overhead line catenary system for light rail
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 57
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 58
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Repair - Developing an eddy current-based sensor system for quality assurance of carbon fibres
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 60
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 61
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Inside the lab - Advanced Composite Materials Facility University of Southampton
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 63
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Resin - Development of new type of plastics: Polypropylene 2.0
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 65
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Advertisers
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 67
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 68
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