Thursday, 14 June 2018

Silicon Valley Business Journal/Cromwell Schubarth: Alphabet, others help Sunnyvale 'space catapult' startup raise $40M to fling rockets into space

Silicon Valley Business Journal

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Alphabet, others help Sunnyvale 'space catapult' startup raise $40M to fling rockets into space

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By Cromwell Schubarth  – TechFlash Editor, Silicon Valley Business Journal
Jun 14, 2018, 6:35am PDT Updated Jun 14, 2018, 6:43am PDT

A Sunnyvale startup with a new spin on getting rockets into space has raised $40 million to develop its space catapult idea.

The Series A funding of SpinLaunch Inc. ended up being bigger than was reported a few months ago and includes money from Alphabet Inc.'s GV (formerly Google Ventures), Airbus Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Founder Jonathan Yaney and his team apparently have a working prototype for their "kinetic energy launch system," but are keeping many details under wraps. The catapult uses electricity to get a rocket spinning at 5,000 miles an hour — fast enough to fling it past the Earth's atmosphere where rocket engines can take over.

“Some people call it a non-rocket launch,” Yaney told Bloomberg. “It seems crazy. It seems fantastic. But we are actually using relatively low-tech industrial components to break this problem into manageable chunks.”

News of SpinLaunch's idea leaked out earlier this year when it was thought the company had raised $30 million. Its investors weren't known at the time.

“We are very intrigued by SpinLaunch’s innovative use of rotational kinetic energy to revolutionize the smallsat market,” Wen Hsieh, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins, told Bloomberg. “SpinLaunch can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, thereby eliminating the use of toxic and dangerous rocket fuels.”

If successful, SpinLaunch could seriously disrupt what has become a crowded rocket industry in which dozens of companies have popped up in the footsteps of Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. They are using smaller versions of the rockets that have been used for decades to get satelites into orbit.

SpinLaunch's approach is entirely new. It plans to begin launching by 2022, charge less than $500,000 per launch and be able to send up multiple rockets per day.

Top rocket companies now usually launch about once a month and have been aiming for launch costs of between $2 million to $10 million each.
By Cromwell Schubarth  – TechFlash Editor, Silicon Valley Business Journal
Jun 14, 2018, 6:35am PDT Updated Jun 14, 2018, 6:43am PDT
 Thursday, July 26, 2018
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