A recently published patent from Amazon describes a new method of launching objects using a mile long whip attached to an aircraft fleet. The patent, which was learned by GeekWire, was filed back in Development 2017, but only made public earlier this week. He thinks the method could offer an energy efficient way of launching a payload, possibly transporting it to low Earth orbit.
It's a pretty wild thought. Amazon's patent shows the whip attached to a marine vehicle (read: a boat) via a winch at one end and an "air vehicle" carrying the payload at another. Along the whip there are a number of additional overhead vehicles that contribute to the whip waveform and could also derive power through the whip itself.
The whip could use an aircraft fleet to launch a payload in the air. Persona: UPSTO / Amazon
While it's fun to reckon of Amazon one day using this method to mask party post on terraces around the world, the patent description and images recommend that its inventor has payloads such as satellites. It might be apt for Amazon's plans to use a satellite network to deliver internet worldwide, similar to SpaceX Starlink's. Launching many satellites is expensive. SpaceX is trying to lower the cost of its launches by reusing parts of its rockets. Maybe Amazon's equivalent is a huge whip?
In a statement to GeekWire, an Amazon spokesman said patents such as these "do not necessarily reflect [its] the current product roadmap". He added, "Like many companies, we are filing a series of future patent applications exploring the full potential of new technology."
Indeed, Amazon has filed many patents in the past that have so far failed to achieve anything: there was an airline float warehouse in 2016, its distribution hubs in 2017 and a drone that responds when you call it 2018. point, one would not guess that his giant whip would be different.