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‘Slingshot’ launch firm ponders WA site

A Californian launch company that uses a “slingshot” to catapult satellites into space is considering opening a site in Australia.

SpinLaunch said it is examining several locations globally, including two on the south coast of Western Australia near Mundrabilla, 1,300 kilometres from Perth.

While the business is refusing to confirm details, the ABC reports that WA’s land planning department has received an application for a two-year licence to use the land for feasibility studies.

The business deploys an enormous rotating arm to fling small satellites into near-Earth space and has already completed at least 10 successful launches.


Its suborbital accelerator stands more than 50 metres tall – roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty – while its rotating arm spins payloads faster than the speed of sound.

It’s targeting using the technology for both orbital and suborbital launches.

“The SpinLaunch Orbital Launch System is a fundamentally new way to reach space,” explains the business on its website.

“The velocity boost provided by the accelerator’s electric drive results in a 4x reduction in the fuel required to reach orbit, a 10x reduction in cost, and the ability to launch multiple times per day.


“Because kinetically launched satellites exit the stratosphere without a rocket, SpinLaunch enables a future in which constellations of satellites and space payloads can be launched with zero emissions in the most critical layers of the atmosphere.

“In a future where large numbers of people are travelling to space – structures, equipment, and supplies required to support in-space civilisation must also be launched.

“For tens of thousands of people to someday work and live in space, millions of tons of infrastructure and supplies must be launched. SpinLaunch ensures that can be done with the least environmental impact possible.”

SpinLaunch started development in early 2015 and completed its first launch in October 2021. By September last year, it had hosted a range of third-party experiments from NASA, Airbus, and Cornell University.

“Today, we have accomplished our 10th test flight, and it has proven that it’s a system that is repeatedly reliable,” founder Jonathan Yaney said after achieving the milestone last year.

“This is not a rocket, and clearly, our ability to perform in just 11 months this many tests and have them all function as planned really is a testament to the nature of our technology.”

It comes after fellow alternative launch company Virgin Orbit ceased all operations earlier this year.

Like SpinLaunch, it eschewed a traditional vertical blast-off to instead launch satellites from underneath the wing of a repurposed Boeing 747. It had been hoping to launch from Toowoomba in Queensland next year.

Its demise followed the failure of its landmark launch in Cornwall, south-west England, in January.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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