Can We Throw Satellites to Space? – SpinLaunch

Can We Throw Satellites to Space? – SpinLaunch

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Writer/Narrator: Brian McManus
Editor: Dylan Hennessy
Animator: Mike Ridolfi
Animator: Eli Prenten
Sound: Graham Haerther
Henry Ariza – Camera Operator and Color
Jamon Tolbert – Camera Operator
Gina Giorgi – Production Coordinator
Donovan Bullen – Music
Thumbnail: Simon Buckmaster

Select imagery/video supplied by Getty Images
Thank you to AP Archive for access to their archival footage.

Music by Epidemic Sound:

Thank you to my patreon supporters: Adam Flohr, Henning Basma, Hank Green, William Leu, Tristan Edwards, Ian Dundore, John & Becki Johnston. Nevin Spoljaric, Jason Clark, Thomas Barth, Johnny MacDonald, Stephen Foland, Alfred Holzheu, Abdulrahman Abdulaziz Binghaith, Brent Higgins, Dexter Appleberry, Alex Pavek, Marko Hirsch, Mikkel Johansen, Hibiyi Mori. Viktor Józsa, Ron Hochsprung

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29 Responses

  1. Real Engineering says:

    This has been in the works for about 3 months now. Our first full documentary shoot. There is a lot of negativity in the comments from people who have not even watched the video yet. This channel is about being positive about engineering. Encouraging and inspiring the next generation of engineers. If you are looking for a channel that focuses on being negative and adds nothing to world, you have come to the wrong place. It’s so much easier to point out what’s hard, than using your brain to think of solutions. That’s not what engineers do. We find problems, and then we find solutions. If you don’t think a company that’s trying to throw satellites into space, and has already built a 1/3rd prototype, isn’t insanely cool. I don’t know what to do for ye. That’s badass. Whether they succeed or not is irrelevant. It’s not your investment money they are using, chill out.

    • Crank says:

      @T-Bone So you spent as much time as everyone who watched the video. Post your thoughts. Not “I have doubts”.

    • Number Free says:

      @Techa2244 I was thinking of a staged approach, like the very long range German guns of ww2. They used explosive charges that were triggered by the passage of the shell up the barrel, to help it on its way.

      Large capacitors could be charged up relatively slowly, but be discharged quickly.

      Railguns already exist and just about work, I gather. Thus a large one operating in a staged manner may be feasible, and so I hope that the concept is explored further. Not least due the ease of imparting a spin to the missile.

      I bet that some group somewhere is already working on such a project.

    • Greg Turner says:

      Dear Mr. Engineering: it’s a YouTube comment section about a controversial project. You were expecting positivity, of such a nature as to inspire the next generation of engineers? That is indeed some long-tail optimistically positive thinking! However, it would not be required were you to consider the positive nature of things like:
      o directing labor, education and capitol toward technically and socially useful endeavors
      o protecting investors from fraud
      o exploring diverse and divergent perspectives in public discourse
      Unlike some posters, I doubt you’ve accepted undisclosed payola—I mean I’m sure you got some schwag, but I imagine that’s the extent of it, hence the sponsor spot. But I do wonder if, given how hard you worked, you might have come to be overly invested in the proposition that the subjects of your documentary are The Good Guys?

    • Number Free says:

      @The Dabbling Warlock I agree with you completely about the fossil fuel issues but I am just trying to do my bit. I believe that the motivation for the spinlaunch mechanism was ‘green’, as well as to reduce costs.

      This isn’t a criticism of you but generally speaking I wish that people would consider new ideas and build upon them, rather than presenting reasons why things won’t work. That’s a very common response and it never made sense to me.

    • T-Bone says:

      To challenge this I have typed out a response beforehand and will now waste 40+ mins watching more spin launch (Yes I’m bias and so are you) and then decide to post or reword it after watching it all. I have doubts.

  2. SeanHodgins says:

    I’m rooting for them just for the “fun” engineering aspect alone!

    • Steven Herd says:

      Did you actually watch the video before making that comment?

      They went over air resistance and atmospheric heating, in detail.

    • Martin Liu says:

      The “fun” that costs the lives of millions of starving African children…

    • Stevie J says:

      This is the correct reaction to spinlaunch 😄

    • Lunatic BZ says:

      @Alon Levy It’s a combination of atmospheric slowing, plus your adding weight by needing a fairing that has sufficient heat shielding.

      They minimize the atmospheric drag by launching close to vertical. If you want to get into orbit you need to be going horizontal. So the second stage has a lot of work to do, and is limited in size.

      On the moon for example you could just fire this thing horizontal, that be way more efficient. Your already almost in orbit and just need a little boost to make sure you don’t hit the ground. So payload capacity would go up massively.

      What spin launch is launching is still mostly fuel. On an airless body it could launch mostly payload. Almost entirely payload depending on its destination.

  3. Humtog says:

    This type of launch system was something that was in my mind since I was a 5th grader. I drew designs like these on paper with the dream to reduce the cost of launches. Another idea was basically a longer more powerful rail-gun. When I reached college, I did some calculations and came to a conclusion that it is not as feasible as I once thought it would be, and dropped that idea.

    Now, I am pleasantly surprised with someone attempting to make it happen against all odds & trying to push engineering to the limits! Only thing that didn’t make sense was the cost per launch. How is this still more costly than the Falcon Heavy?

    This system cannot carry delicate stuff but the thing is If we are going to be an interplanetary civilization, we would need something to carry large amount of “dumb payload” like fuel, water, food and even construction material. But, I really thought the cost would be significantly lower as otherwise this thing is not really useful for those kinda dumb payload if Falcon heavy is able to carry it cheaper, thus rendering this only useful to launch super-hardened satellites that require specific orbits.

    But still, great to see someone try! Regardless of if this succeeds or not, it will be a great experiment to see. And, congrats on your first full documentary, it was very good, and kept my attention till the end. Way better than most Discovery documentaries these days.

  4. supersonic says:

    Im an aerospace engineering student and pass by their factory every day on my way to campus! Watching your video just gave me even more of an appreciation for how close I live to this place

    • x808drifter says:

      @Half Rho V Squared Apreciation or however you put it for this obvious scam you should be able to easily see is the problem the guy was trying to point out. Though he didn’t word it right. He got the point across.

    • Half Rho V Squared says:

      @Rob clements – I think you may have misread. “…an appreciation for how close I live to this place” does not equate to “hope”.
      In this context, the word “Appreciation” can mean “Understanding” or “Realisation”.
      It can also mean, “Enjoyment/Gratitude” and even then, it still is not synonymous with “Hope”.

    • Rob clements says:

      If this is what gives you hope your not a very good aerospace engineer student

  5. Greg Conquest - gc says:

    @18:54 When the secondary door closes, it appears to be a pressurized fabric, very much like a car airbag, which are also super fast in deployment. They would also release minimal air into the system. I guess once sealed, then the regular door can be more slowly slid into place. Interesting workaround for this problem.

    • Anon Anon says:

      I watched it a few times in slow motion.. I believe it’s somewhat of a normal door, with a shell and spring system. Sort of like a trampoline. There seems to be a cushion layer on top but I think for the most part its a solid door and not a pressurized fabric which adds to complexity and maintenance.

    • marzeepants says:

      If I were a billionaire my first purchase of egregious excess would be the installation of that rapid air lock mechanism as the front door of my home.

      Just imagine how satisfying it would be to actuate a door slam of that ferocity on Jehova’s Witnesses, Girl Scouts, In-Laws, new-ex-girlfriends, etc…

      Your ex shows up babbling about some bullshit like: “Oh heyyy stranger lol don’t mean to be awwwk but I think I left my neti pot here and you know how my nasal pass-” SLAAAAAAAAM!!!

  6. maddthomas says:

    I have loved your channel for a while, I love learning about engineering or anything going into esoteric detail, but the fact you used the word “Yeet” only made me love it more.

  7. Jesus Christ says:

    You never disappoint me. This was a glorious video! Thank you.

    • Zextranet says:

      @Real Engineering This video just taught us how to yeet chunks of special metals up beyond the sky can reach

    • Niles Butler says:

      @Peter Bellek Mythical creatures are usually not a problem. People can choose nicks like zeus, odin or shiva easily.
      Now – I get that christian sensibilities tend to complicate things – but it seems that in this case at last one mythology wasnt treated any different than others.
      Hopefully this kind of view spreads.

    • br says:


    • JCR hobbies says:

      JESUS CHRIST it’s Jesus Christ!!!

    • unloco says:

      Allah Bless you Jesus, our beloved Prophet son of Mariem

  8. Social Shipwreck says:

    I love the more in depth explanation, I’ve seen a video about this before but most are just surface level, keep it up!

  9. faisolk says:

    Now imagine one of these on the moon, that will be the real deal.

  10. thehellezell says:

    kudos on the quality of this doc, impressed by the degree of work that went into it. we’ll see what the future holds for the spin launch project. impressive idea

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