#7: Nato Saichek - Shooting Satellites Into Orbit at Hypersonic Speeds

#7: Nato Saichek - Shooting Satellites Into Orbit at Hypersonic Speeds

Nato decided against building a laser-powered rocket in favor of Longshot Space: a gun powered by pressurized air that can shoot payloads into orbit.


(00:00) - Intro
(00:42) - Nato's Early Idea for a Laser Rocket at Astranis
(02:30) - Nato Initially Being Skeptical of Longshot's Gun Idea
(04:02) - Writing a Simulation that Showed a 4km Gun Could Reach Orbit
(05:43) - Deciding to Join Longshot Full-Time after an SBIR Grant
(07:22) - What Longshot is Building - A Massive Gun to Launch Payloads to Orbit
(09:40) - Comparing Longshot to Hyperloop and SpinLaunch
(10:52) - The Projectile's Trajectory after Exiting the Gun
(13:35) - Reasons for Choosing a Gas Gun over Railgun or Traditional Gun
(16:11) - The Critical First Moments after the Projectile Exits the Gun
(18:02) - Longshot's Plan to Start with Hypersonic Testing
(20:24) - Target Launch Costs of $10-$500 per kg, Orders of Magnitude Cheaper
(23:28) - Using Space Tugs to Enable Different Orbits from an Equatorial Gun
(26:08) - Drastically Lower Costs Enabling Things like Tractors on the Moon
(28:30) - The Path from Garage Prototype to Orbital Launch System
(31:44) - Traditional Rockets vs Gun Launch Physics and Engineering
(35:35) - Iterating on Burst Disk Design to Get Microsecond Timing
(44:04) - Going from Failed Mach 2 Shots to Mach 4 by Improving Projectiles
(46:54) - Doing Hypersonic Testing in a Converted Auto Shop
(49:14) - Iterating on Ways to Safely Catch Hypersonic Projectiles
(51:53) - Using High Speed Cameras to Analyze Projectile Behavior
(54:04) - Light Gates to Trigger Precise Timing of Barrel Accelerators
(56:40) - Parts of the System with High vs Low Confidence
(59:54) - Nato's Philosophy as a Generalist Engineer
(01:03:15) - The Elegance of Passive Analog Guidance like the Sunbeam Toaster
(01:07:17) - Being Okay with Initially Being Bad at Things to Become a Generalist
(01:09:30) - Preference for Working on Civilization-Changing Mega Projects
(01:10:26) - Conclusion




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Episode Video

Creators and Guests

Christian Keil
Christian Keil
Host of First Principles | Chief of Staff @ Astranis
Nathan Saichek
Nathan Saichek
Building a spacegun to help humanity spread through the solar system