Stealth space startup SpinLaunch snares another $35 million from investors

SpinLaunch continues to rake in the cash.

The secretive California-based startup, which is developing a novel kinetic-energy-based launch system, has received an additional $35 million from investors, SpinLaunch founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney announced today (Jan. 16). The funding brings the company’s total investment haul to $80 million, he added.

Yaney founded SpinLaunch in 2014. The company is developing architecture that accelerates a small rocket to hypersonic speeds using a spinning system on the ground. That rocket will be flung skyward, engaging its onboard chemical propulsion only during the final push to orbit.

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SpinLaunch CEO Jonathan Yaney (left), Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks (center) and New Mexico Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia Keyes mark the start of construction on a $7 million SpinLaunch test facility on May 7, 2019. (Image credit: SpinLaunch/Spaceport America)

A fact sheet that SpinLaunch emailed to reporters last year provides more details about this approach. 

“SpinLaunch utilizes existing technology and components from oil/gas/mining and wind turbine industries to construct an innovative mass-acceleration system, which achieves very high launch speeds without the need for enormous power generation or massive infrastructure,” the fact sheet says. “After ascending above the atmosphere, a relatively small, low-cost onboard rocket will be used to provide the final required velocity for orbital insertion. Because the majority of the energy required to reach orbit is sourced from ground-based electricity, as opposed to complex onboard rocket propulsion, total launch cost is reduced by an order of magnitude over existing launch systems.”

This cost reduction will make space much more accessible to a wide variety of customers, SpinLaunch believes. The company envisions ultimately launching up to five times a day, at about $250,000 per liftoff, SpinLaunch representatives have said. 

The investors in this newly announced round include Airbus Ventures, GV, KPCB, Catapult Ventures, Lauder Partners, John Doerr and Byers Family, SpinLaunch representatives said. The company will use the money to scale up its team and technology, finish work on its flight-test facility at Spaceport America in New Mexico and continue outfitting its 140,000-square-foot (13,000 square meters) corporate headquarters in Long Beach, they added.

SpinLaunch headquarters in Long Beach, California. (Image credit: SpinLaunch)

“Our team at SpinLaunch greatly appreciates the continued support of this formidable syndicate of investors, who share our vision of enabling low-cost and frequent launch of imaging and communications constellations that will protect our planet and humanity,” Yaney said in a statement announcing the latest investment. 

“Later this year, we aim to change the history of space launch with the completion of our first flight test mass accelerator at Spaceport America,” he added.

The company could start launching operational missions by 2022, Yaney has said. Some of the earliest flights might be funded by the U.S. military; SpinLaunch announced last year that it had received a “launch prototype contract” from the Department of Defense.

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

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