SpinLaunch raises $40 million

Stealth startup SpinLaunch aims to change the way small satellites get to orbit and has secured $40 million to continue developing its technology. The company announced on Thursday (June 14) that Silicon Valley startup SpinLaunch snagged $35 million in "Series A" funding from some big-name investors, including Airbus Ventures, GV (previously Google Ventures) and Kleiner Perkins. Another group of investors had already chipped in $5 million. On Thursday, it would reveal the first details of its plans to build a machine meant to hurl rockets into space.

According to Shaun Maguire, it has the potential to be highly disruptive for launching small and medium-sized payloads. It is uniquely positioned against traditional rocket-based methods for space launch. The expansion of space-based telecommunications constellations is likely to happen, and it is possible due to the company's cost-effective approach. 

As per the CEO of SpinLaunch, Jonathan Yaney, the basics of the approach involve accelerating the launch vehicle to hypersonic speeds using ground-based electricity. Also, applying the initial performance boost from a terrestrial-based launch platform enables us to lower the cost by orders of magnitude and launch many times per day. Several months ago, Yaney in an interview to TechCrunch described SpinLaunch's concept as a rotational acceleration method that harnesses angular momentum aiming for a pre-launch price below $500,000, which would be much lower than launch with the cheapest rockets.

Some experts in the field who have seen the prototype were impressed by Yaney and think that company has a fighting chance. Yaney grew up in California and has run a variety of businesses. He is self-taught when it comes to aerospace engineering, having poured over textbooks in the years leading up to the founding of SpinLaunch in 2014.

SpinLaunch representatives said they're targeting 2022 as a first-launch date. The launch site has not been chosen yet and considering locales in four different U.S. States. 'Series A' funding means the rounding of financing that follows initial "seed capital." A $35 million haul in this round is impressive but not unprecedented. For example, in December, the Japanese company space announced that it had pulled in $90 million in Series A money to help develop its robotic lunar-transportation architecture.

SpinLaunch has a working prototype of its launcher. The company declined to provide any detail on exactly how the machine operates. If the startup were able to reach its goal, it would easily be the cheapest and the prolific small launcher on the market.