Alphabet (GOOGL) and Airbus (EADSY) are among major investors in SpinLaunch, a Silicon Valley startup that seeks to slash launch costs by flinging rockets into space without burning fuel.
SpinLaunch is building a device that would spin a rocket at up to 5,000 miles per hour and then, like a discus thrower, toss the rocket into space.
SpinLaunch plans to launch its first satellite in 2022 at $500,000 per launch, just a fraction of the cost that providers of conventional launch services see.
For example, Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk boasted that SpaceX’s new Falcon 9 rockets could be reused 100 times and slash launch costs to $5 million-$6 million from $50 million-$60 million.
And the launch price tag for United Launch Alliance, a Boeing (BA)-Lockheed Martin (LMT) joint venture, has been estimated at more than $200 million.
So far, SpinLaunch has secured $40 million in funding, according to a Bloomberg report, despite giving few details about how the launcher would actually work.
“Some people call it a non-rocket launch,” founder Jonathan 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.”
Alphabet shares rose 1.4% to 1160.11 on the stock market today. Airbus’ U.S.-listed shares climbed 3.1% to 30.30. Boeing dipped 0.2% and Lockheed lost 1.2%.
SpinLaunch’s contraption would be powered by electricity. Rather than burn fuel to put a rocket into space, the launcher would fling a rocket up that would then put a payload into orbit.
SpinLaunch would only be able to deliver a small payload like a mini-satellite. But customers are favoring smaller, cheaper satellites that are collectively less vulnerable if a single satellite becomes disabled.