Share this project


Share this project

Plasma Jet Electric Thrusters for Spacecraft's video poster

A prototype electric pulsed plasma jet thruster for reliable, high performance, low cost interplanetary space transportation Read more

pledged of $69,000 goal
seconds to go


This project was successfully funded on November 3, 2012.

A prototype electric pulsed plasma jet thruster for reliable, high performance, low cost interplanetary space transportation

Slingatron: Building a Railroad To Space - has gone Live !!!!

To all of our incredible backers,

We are proud to announce that our new Kickstarter project, "SLINGATRON: Building a Railroad to Space", has just gone live on the Kickstarter site!!

We hope you will find this project to be as exciting as we do!


Doug Witherspoon & Chris Faranetta

The Slingatron Technical Team


Listed below are the bios of the technical team that we have assembled for the upcoming Slingatron Kickstarter project. We have been carefully working out the details for the technical goals of this project and hope to be launching it next week.  I am sending you this information so that you understand that we are serious about succeeding at this endevour.


Chris Faranetta

F. Douglas Witherspoon, Ph.D.

Dr. Witherspoon is President and Chief Scientist of HyperV Technologies Corp. Prior to founding HyperV in January 2004, he was the co-founder, President and Chief Scientist of UTRON, Inc. since 1994, where he was responsible for conceiving, developing and directing the company's research which emphasized the application of plasma and pulsed power technologies for defense, industrial and commercial areas. Dr. Witherspoon is the inventor of several pulsed plasma based materials processing applications currently still being developed at UTRON. He is an experimental plasma physicist with over 25 years of research experience in the field of plasma physics. His experience includes capillary discharge physics, plasma jets, plasma thrusters, high enthalpy flow electrothermal wind tunnels, electromagnetic and electrothermal mass launchers, pulsed high current & high voltage engineering, plasma magnetic confinement (tokamaks), pulsed high power RF systems, and computational modeling. He has extensive experience with pulsed plasma accelerator technology. Dr. Witherspoon received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1984 from the University of Wisconsin (Madison).

Dr. Witherspoon was a Senior Research Scientist at GT-Devices, Inc., Alexandria, VA, from 1984-1994. Dr. Witherspoon performed computational modeling of the Electrothermal Light Gas Gun (ELGG) and the Combustion Light Gas Gun (CLGG) projects, which continued at UTRON. This involved writing numerous 1-D numerical codes for modeling the interior ballistics the ELGG and CLGG launchers. From 1990-1991 he was the Project Manager for the Pulsed Electrothermal (PET) Thruster project, with responsibility for all aspects of the design and testing of a radiation-cooled liquid-fed pulsed electrothermal rocket thruster. From 1989-1991 he was the Project Manager for the Electrothermal Wind Tunnel program, with responsibility for the design and testing of a prototype cryogenic liquid-fed electrothermal wind tunnel in support of NASA's Hypersonic Propulsion Program. From 1985 to 1989, Dr. Witherspoon served first as the Project Manager and then as Principal Investigator for the GEDI electromagnetic railgun program. His responsibilities included the design of an entire EM launcher facility and the research to achieve high velocity projectiles for space and defense applications.

Derek A. Tidman, Ph.D.

Derek A. Tidman is the inventor of the Slingatron mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator technology. Dr. Tidman obtained a PhD in Physics from the University of London, March, 1956, and a D.I.C., Diploma of Imperial College of Science and Technology, May, 1956, London, UK. He first came to the U.S. as an Assistant Professor at the Fermi Institute for Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago, in 1957. From 1960 to 1980 he was a Research Professor in the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, where in addition to his teaching, his publications included 2 co-authored books: "Plasma Kinetic theory" and "Shock Waves in Collisionless Plasmas", and a co-edited book on "Plasma Instabilities in Astrophysics". He was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Mathematical Physics, 1972-74, and the Physics of Fluids, 1970-72. During the 60’s and 70’s he consulted for the Goddard Space Flight Center on Space Plasmas, and also worked on DOE-funded studies of inertial thermonuclear fusion.

In 1980 he left academia to establish the GT-Devices Inc. mass acceleration laboratory where he was President from 1980-1994 and worked on electrothermal and electromagnetic railgun launchers. His 16 patents include a hole-boring technique to reduce projectile atmospheric drag, and as a co-inventor, the original use of capillary discharges for electrothermal (ET and ETC) guns, and pulsed electrothermal thrusters. GT-Devices was acquired and became a subsidiary of General Dynamics in 1989.

Dr. Tidman has published over 130 papers in scientific journals with the most recent being a new mechanical approach to mass acceleration called the Slingatron. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Member of the AIAA.

Mr. Mark Kregel

Mark is an extremely talented mechanical engineer with over 20 years experience in mechanical engineering, material design, component fabrication and testing in support of many advanced technology programs. He has been a consultant to the Slingatron development effort since 2002. His work on the Slingatron under the direction of Dr. Derek Tidman has included the design, fabrication and testing of the Mark I & Mark II one meter Slingatron machines. Mark will be the senior mechanical engineer for our Slingatron Kickstarter project.

Andrew Case, Ph.D.

Dr. Case is a Senior Scientist with HyperV Technologies Corp. While at HyperV Dr. Case has designed and constructed interferometers, spectroscopy systems, vacuum systems, optical systems, probes, fast valves, and more. Prior to joining HyperV in September 2005 he worked as a postdoctoral researcher from January 2002 on the Maryland Centrifugal Experiment (MCX) at the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, University of Maryland College Park. His work on MCX included designing, fabricating, installing magnetic diagnostics equipment and performing analysis of data from magnetic fluctuation probes and diamagnetic loops. Additional work performed by Dr. Case on MCX included insulator design, design of data collection systems, interlock systems, writing data analysis codes, analysis of data, design and construction of electronics and safety compliance.

Prior to joining the MCX team, Dr. Case worked for Pixelligent LLC, a high tech startup developing a novel semiconductor lithography technology, where he designed optical systems, both imaging and non-imaging, and wrote patents covering algorithms and devices related to programmable mask lithography.

Dr. Case received his PhD in plasma physics from the University of Maryland in 2001. During the course of his graduate research Dr. Case designed and built a novel microwave resonant cavity Barium plasma source, implemented langmuir probe diagnostics, designed and built an antenna for launching ion acoustic waves, designed and constructed magnets for plasma confinement and designed and built collection optical systems for laser induced florescence. He received his BA in Physics in 1992 from Reed College, writing a senior thesis on experimental study of droplet coalescence in the presence of vibration.

Samuel Brockington, Ph.D.

Dr. Brockington is a Senior Scientist with HyperV Technologies Corp, with over eleven years experience in analog and digital electronics design and software engineering for experimental physics. His present research interests include pulsed power design, plasma diagnostics, and plasma thruster development. He completed his PhD. with the University of California at Davis in 2007 working as a Student Employee Graduate Research Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) developing the laser deflectometer, a line-integrated plasma density gradient diagnostic, for the Compact Toroid Injection Experiment (CTIX). After joining HyperV in 2007, he coordinated the accelerator design, pulsed power design, control design, construction, development, and deployment of HyperV's 50 kilojoules linear plasma railguns and high power switches. Dr Brockington also acted as HyperV's project liaison to the Plasma Linear Experiment (PLX) based at Los Alamos Nation Lab (LANL), assisting with the project pulsed power and control design. Dr Brockington has also recently co-managed the design, pulsed power design, control design, construction and development of HyperV's E3P-1 repetitive plasma thruster prototype supported via Kickstarter. He also wrote and maintains the HyperV “ShotBroswer” data viewer application. Presently, he is serving as Principle Investigator for the development of HyperV's new Fast, Fiber-Coupled, Imaging Diagnostic, a 10 MHz framing camera for resolving fast, bright events.

Mr. Christopher J. Faranetta

Mr. Faranetta is Vice President of New Business Development for HyperV Technologies Corp. He has nearly 25 years experience as an aerospace and alternative energy entrepreneur and program manager.

In 1988, Mr. Faranetta began his career in aerospace by helping forge early joint U.S./Soviet-Russian space efforts while serving as International Liaison to the Space Studies Institute (SSI) in Princeton N.J. Following his work at SSI Mr. Faranetta founded and co-managed what became the Americas office of Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) from 1991-1998 to support the development of new U.S./Russian government and commercial space ventures.

Mr. Faranetta has also served as Vice President of Orbital Spaceflight for Space Adventures LTD 1999-2008 where under the leadership of Eric Anderson he co-developed the orbital program for Space Adventures and sold private manned missions to the International Space Station. In addition, while at Space Adventures he headed the development of a program in partnership with the Russian Federation of a first-ever commercial manned circumlunar mission using the flight-proven Soyuz TMA manned spacecraft.

Mr. Faranetta has also previously consulted for Dr. Tidman on the Slingatron mass launcher as well as other advanced aerospace technologies to identify applications and near term markets.

Building a railroad to orbit for you!

HyperV Technologies Corp.'s first Kickstarter project, the E3P-1 thruster, addressed reducing the cost, and increasing the efficiency and the utility of in-orbit spacecraft propulsion. Our next Kickstarter project will also address reducing cost and increasing both the utility and efficiency of space transportation. However, this next project will focus on a different segment of what is potentially a revolutionary new space transportation infrastructure. Like the early railroads that opened many of the world’s frontiers, our next project could transform access to space by dramatically reducing the cost and increasing launch opportunities.

We are very excited to make this first announcement to all of you, our backers, that HyperV Technologies Corp. has agreed to take over the development of a novel mechanical mass launch device called the Slingatron. Our plan is to incrementally grow the capabilities of this transformative space launch technology, with the goal of providing low cost, high volume commercial space launch services.

With the majority of the launch equipment remaining on the ground, the Slingatron is essentially fully reusable, highly reliable, and, like a train, can provide regularly scheduled low cost transportation.

So what the heck is a Slingatron?

The Slingatron is an earth based mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator, which theoretically can be built large enough to launch a steady stream of payloads into orbit and beyond. These payloads could range in size from tiny cubesat class satellites to multi-ton payload containers.

To date three Slingatron demonstrator machines have been built. Here is a video of the one-meter diameter Mark II machine in operation:

The Slingatron launch track is a spiral tube mounted on top of a modular high RPM gyrating platform. A video of the Slingatron basic function can be seen here: During launch, the payload, or launch, module is released into the track at the center of the spiral. Once placed onto the gyrating track, the launch module becomes phase-locked with the hula-hoop-like gyration of the platform. The strong gyrating centripetal force of the track causes the payload module to rapidly accelerate. The payload module effectively thinks it is constantly accelerating down an incline under a high gravity. This rapid acceleration is then tremendously amplified as the launch module is forced to stay in synchronization with the powerful gyration force as it travels farther out into the ever-widening spiral track. The unique mechanical action of the Slingatron accelerates the module to launch velocities of many km/s as it exits the spiral track of the Slingatron.

See the bottom of this post for image: Design concept for a large Slingatron capable of placing small payloads into earth orbit.

Slingatron orbital launch sequence:

a. Payloads are attached to small rocket motor upperstages to form the launch module and then stacked in a launch rack feeding into the center of the Slingatron spiral track.
b. The Slingatron track is then accelerated up to the required gyration rate of tens of gyrations per second.
c. Each launch module is then released in sequence into the center of the Slingatron spiral at the beginning of its specified launch window.
d. The centripetal force of the gyrating Slingatron acts on and accelerates the launch module out into the Slingatron track.
e. As the launch module travels farther out in the spiral track it accelerates rapidly, staying in phase with the strong centripetal force gyrations acting on the launch module.
f. The launch module exits the Slingatron at a high velocity. A specially designed nosecone prevents the launch module from burning up during its brief but very hot flight through the dense part of the atmosphere.
g. Once the launch module reaches the desired altitude in its trajectory the upperstage rocket motor fires to circularize the orbit of the payload or satellite.
h. Payload modules delivering fuel or water instead of a free flying satellite are retrieved by a space tug and delivered to an orbital depot.

You may be wondering how the Electric Pulsed Plasma Propulsion technology fits in with the proposed Slingatron development effort. In our last thruster update I mentioned that we are now studying the use of a non-gaseous propellant that is completely inert, non-toxic, and requires no high-pressure propellant tanks or valves. This inert propellant is the perfect bulk cargo for an orbital Slingatron mass launcher. Therefore, the thruster technology is actually a component that fits into the top tier of this new space transportation infrastructure.

To give you an idea of the Slingatron’s launch potential here are a few examples of missions it could support*:

1. Low cost, on demand and fully reusable sub-orbital payload launches.
2. On orbit refueling of reusable launch vehicles to increase their payload launch capacity and performance.
3. Low cost rapid deployment of a low cost global satellite based internet.
4. Refueling of robotic spacecraft in a large-scale effort to remove and or recycle orbital debris.
5. Resupply of manned platforms and fueling of large interplanetary spacecraft.
6. Delivery of structures and raw material for large scale space based construction and manufacturing.
7. Sustained intercept and destruction of large, late-detected, earth threatening asteroids and comets.
8. Clean safe impact fusion energy becomes possible for velocities above about 20 km/s.

*We would like to hear your suggestions on potential Slingatron missions that would improve life both on and off earth.

Here are some expected advantages and disadvantages of the Slingatron:


1. Dramatic reduction of launch costs per pound.
2. On-demand launch capability
3. Rapid serial launch capability.
4. Slingatron can be built using existing technology and materials.
5. Energy efficient and extremely low launch emissions.
6. Modular construction enables low cost launch performance growth.

Disadvantages: (There is always a catch!)

1. All payloads will be subjected to a load of ~10,000-30,000 times earth gravity (g) during launch.*
2. Humans absolutely cannot be launched in a Slingatron.
3. Satellites, all avionics, and upperstages will have to be g-hardened. This will limit the complexity of satellites launched by the Slingatron.
4. The nosecone of the launch module will be subject to extreme heating during launch.

Why Kickstarter?

We want to use Kickstarter to create a global user base of people who are interested in, involved in, and some day use the Slingatron, for the benefit of earth. Your backer funds will be used to develop and test a modular scalable Slingatron to help us better understand the technical challenges and costs which lay ahead in the development of a large orbital launch machine.

Finally, we are very excited about this project and the prospect of your involvement in this effort to build what will essentially be the first ever analog for a railroad to orbit, which can open the frontier of space.

We would love to hear any comments that you may have on our proposed project.

  • Image 264821 full

Continued Thruster Development

Hi Folks,

I just wanted to give you an update on our continued work developing
the electric pulsed plasma propulsion (E3P) technology beyond the
successful conclusion of our first Kickstarter project.

We have identified a unique new approach to using a non-gaseous
propellant, which maintains the same high Isp and thrust of argon or
xenon gas propellants in our thruster. This new propellant approach
provides the E3P thruster technology with the following advantages:

1) The non-gaseous propellant is completely inert and non-toxic, and
requires no high-pressure propellant tanks which can explode, or valves
which can fail. Given that the propellant is inert and non-toxic, it is
an ideal candidate technology for safe use with, and storage aboard,
manned platforms and on cubesats.

2) This thruster technology could enable interplanetary missions on
cubesat spacecraft as small as 6U (briefcase size spacecraft) and with similarly
low cost.

3) It is scalable up to large spacecraft in the kilowatt power range.

4) It can be throttled for fine maneuvering of the spacecraft.

5) Both the thruster technology and propellant are mechanically robust.

6) It has high thrust per unit area, taking up less space on the rear
of the spacecraft.

We are actively working on our next Kickstarter project which will be a
very cool space technology and which will be a complete surprise! We
think you are going to be very excited by its potential. We plan to launch
this next project in about a month from now, so stay tuned for further details from us!


Chris Faranetta

Article on firing event and crowd funding space projects

Folks, Here is a link to an interesting article which mentions our E3P-1 thruster firing event and crowd funding of space projects: Best, Chris Faranetta