# Hay's Daze: Spinning wildly into outer space

I don’t want to force anything on anyone, but today we’re talking about ‘Forces’.  What an odd topic, I can hear you saying, and I would agree.  Except that I just heard about a company called “SpinLaunch” and being a certified space-exploration nut and a regular whackjob nut, I had to check it out.
The force of gravity; a force of nature; may the Force be with you.  Our whole lives are influenced by forces we can’t even see.  Like when your Better Half gives you that look that says you forgot to take out the garbage AGAIN!  That look that carries a powerful force you can feel from all the way across the room.
But one of the Forces that is excruciatingly interesting is that kind of sideways pressure that sticks you to the wall of the circular cage ride at the Red Deer Fair and used to be called the “Round Up”.  It’s the Force that squishes your date against you when you sit on the outside of the Scrambler (so always sit on the outside).  When you are flattened like a Fair-food funnel cake against the wall of the Tilt-A-Whirl.  All great fun if you don’t lose your lunch.  Of course, that Force is called “centrifugal” and it’s the powerful stimulus you get from whirling faster than the spin cycle in your clothes dryer.
Astronauts-in-training have to spin like crazy in a positively inhuman machine called a Centrifuge and apparently it’s not nearly as much fun as the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Olympic discus, shot-put, and hammer throwers all rotate like whirling dervishes in order to launch heavy Frisbees, cannonballs and ball-and-chains farther than the other spinners.  Good ole David used centrifugal force when he put a wee rock in an attractive leather sling, spun it around so fast it would make Newton proud (yes, that Newton) and, taking advantage of the laws of sideways gravity (David had a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Bethlehem) catapulted that projectile right between the eyes of big ole Goliath.
Yes, it’s all because of that Force called ‘centrifugal’ (‘centri’ Latin for ‘whizz around’; ‘fugal’ Greek for ‘until you hurl’).
And that’s where the SpinLaunch company comes in.  The name, quite literally, says it all.  This California company is working on a way to launch vehicles into space by spinning them on a huge robot arm and, well, flinging them into the Goliath stratosphere like a rock off a David slingshot!
Now, ‘Hold on’, I can hear you saying.  ‘You’re kidding, right?  Quit pulling my leg!’ you’re saying, (and you seem to be quite talkative today).  But au contraire.  SpinLaunch has already conducted 10 test flights, and in 2022 they were named a Time Magazine “Most Influential Company”.
SpinLaunch has constructed a humongous white disc-like structure with a huge tube sticking out the top in the New Mexico desert and inside the disc there’s a massive arm that spins up to 10,000 times the force of gravity.  An online video shows it flinging its payload skyward faster than the speed of sound!  Now, if that isn’t a fist-pumping moment, I don’t know what is.
The company says sling-shotting stuff will only apply to launches of small satellites and the like, and no human astronauts are intended to be slung.  But if (and a lot of people have expressed a big IF) spin-launch technology proves to actually work to full orbit, it will save on the cost and environmental impact of rocket fuel burning engines.
I for one applaud the Spin doctors.  I can imagine the creators of SpinLaunch as kids going to the Fair wearing their “I’m An Astro Nut” t-shirts, stepping off the Gravitron ride and the sudden light bulb force of inspiration goes:  “Hey!  What if?!”
What if, indeed.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Reach out to Harley with any thoughts or ideas at harleyhay99@gmail.com.