A new startup named Inversion Space has a bold new plan to make efficient deliveries: dropping them from space.
Last month, an Inversion Space engineer released a capsule like a flying saucer out the open door of a 3,000-foot-high aircraft. The 20-inch-diameter capsule bounced in the air for a few seconds before the parachute was opened and pulled the container straight down for a slow fall.
The operation was a bit of an experiment for something unusual. Inversion is developing Earth-orbiting capsules to transport goods from space to anyplace on the planet. The inversion capsule will travel at about 25 times the speed of sound from Earth’s atmosphere, necessitating parachutes for landings and handling cargo.
This unusual orbital Rube Goldberg machine becomes even more bizarre. The capsules could store prostheses brought to the operating room in a couple of hours or function as a mobile field hospital floating in space that could be dispatched to remote regions of the world, according to the concept. And one day, a space shortcut might enable speedy delivery like bringing a New York pizza to San Francisco.
According to Inversion Space cofounders Justin Fiaschetti and Austin Briggs, the company wants to construct a four-foot-diameter capsule carrying a payload the size of a couple of carry-on cases by 2025.
Briggs and Fiaschetti have already obtained $10 million in preliminary funding for their startup. They also joined the famed incubator Y Combinator, crediting the unusual idea.
The business expects that the capsule will be able to maneuver or stay on a private commercial space station once in orbit. The rocket will be in orbit with solar panels until brought back to Earth. When it was time to return, the capsule could leave orbit and re-enter the atmosphere.
The capsule will land within a ten-mile radius of its specified landing place after releasing a parachute to slow its flight. The company wants to make a small display capsule with a diameter of 20 inches operational by 2023.
The founders of Inversion think that the present launch costs for space-sharing on the SpaceX rocket, which start at one million dollars, might be decreased to make it more viable. Inversion refused to give a price tag for their capsule.
Vehicles transporting experiments from people or space are now larger and more expensive, costing more than $100 million. But, according to Inversion, their compact capsules are intended to fit any commercial rocket, allowing them to travel to space regularly and affordably.
What the Inversion is aiming at is tricky to get right. It takes a different kind of engineering to build a re-entry vehicle than to launch cargo into orbit. Nevertheless, some believe the concept is compelling enough to establish an incubator. The logistical constraints that remain between Inversion Space’s current position and its goals are overwhelming. This may be a perfect reflection of the existing commercial spaceflight industry.