California-based SpinLaunch Inc. is expanding its operations at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, where it plans to test new technology to literally fling rockets into space.
The company already built a $7 million, 10,000-square-foot facility at the Spaceport after announcing plans last year to conduct all testing there on its new technology. Now, the company is doubling down, with plans to hire an additional 59 people and invest another $46 million over 10 years.
The state Economic Development Department will support the expansion with $4 million in Local Economic Development Act funding, said EDD Secretary Alicia J. Keyes.
“SpinLaunch is part of a growing community of businesses creating jobs and innovating new technologies at New Mexico’s Spaceport America,” Keyes said in a statement. “We see the state’s space cluster as an important economic driver to diversify the economy with higher-paying jobs in southern New Mexico.”
SpinLaunch is headquartered in Long Beach, Califonia, where it operates a 140,000-square-foot test and manufacturing facility. The company, which launched in 2014, has raised about $80 million in venture investment to date, including a $35 million round of funding in January 2020.
SpinLaunch is developing a unique centrifuge system that rapidly spins a rocket around on the ground until it reaches hypersonic speeds. It then releases the vehicle like a catapult to hurl it to the edge of space.
The company says its technology could radically cut expenses for satellite launches, while providing a more environmentally friendly method to reach space without rocket emissions.
“Our technology enables a 10 times reduction in the current costs and complexities of reaching orbit,” SpinLaunch founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney said in a statement. “As the number of rocket launches rapidly increases, SpinLaunch uniquely reaches space without releasing pollutants into critical layers of the atmosphere.”
Under its expansion, the company plans to actually build the centrifuge launch system at the spaceport, with test launches to start next year.
“We expect by next summer to begin flight test operations at the spaceport, and we expect to continue to test new flight designs there for the foreseeable future,” Yaney told the Journal. “We see it as a permanent facility for us.”
LEDA funding will be delivered in four stages, with the first $1 million released when SpinLaunch receives a certificate of occupancy for the building it already constructed onsite, Keyes told the Journal. A second tranche will come after SpinLaunch conducts its first rocket test and hires 30 new employees, she said, followed by a third payment at 40 new hires, and final payment when it reaches 56 new employees.