The secretive startup SpinLaunch, which aims to fling satellites into space without a traditional launch pad, has just secured its first launch contract.
In a statement today (June 19), SpinLaunch announced that it has received a "launch prototype contract" from the U.S. Department of Defense under a deal arranged by the Defense Innovation Unit. The Long Beach, California-based company aims to launch its first test flights in early 2020 from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
SpinLaunch is developing a "kinetic energy-based launch system" that accelerates a small payload-carrying booster to hypersonic speeds with a spinning system on the ground. A chemical rocket would kick in once the payload has been launched from the ground system.
An illustration released with the announcement depicted a SpinLaunch booster attached to the arm of what appeared to be a centrifuge.