Railway Launcher

  • Sunday, May 1, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , , ,
  • 11.3 kilometers per second, that is the velocity a ballistic projectile must attain to leave the gravity of the Earth. That's about three times the speed of a rifle bullet, thirty times the speed of sound.

    So far the only method of leaving earth comes from large rocket engines which burn fuel by the tones and could only lift a few tonnes of weight into orbit, hardly efficient if you ask me.

    Then there is the proposed launch method of basically firing a payload into orbit by an explosion/jet-assisted rail/coil gun. This method, if ever a practical example of it was built, would be only able to send a solid projectile into space due to the fact that the immense acceleration that takes the projectile from 0km/s to over 11km/sec will destroy any electronics, not to mention anything alive on board the payload. Perhaps this will be useful for launching explosives into some part of the planet, but I doubt that even something as simple as a nuclear warhead will survive the acceleration.

    Instead, what I suggest is a very long piece of magnetic levitation track about 300 or so kilometers long. Multiple conducting rails below, on top, and to the sides of a "train car" will serve as rails to both levitate the vehicle, reducing friction, and accelerate it in a rail gun like manner. For those who do not know how a rail gun functions, two or more conducting rails complete a circuit with the projectile in between them. The opposite magnetic fields on the rails and in the projectile send the projectile speeding down the track.

    To further accelerate the "train car", a tunnel of coils that are magnetized will pull on the train as it approaches, and push the train away as it passes through the tunnel, much like a coil gun. The final sections of the rail will gradually curve skywards, and rockets on board the train will only have to maintain a velocity that is already close to escape to reach orbit.

    This device will be much more gentile with its payload, as it has 300 km in which to accelerate to the highest attainable speed, meaning the acceleration is gradual, and no unlucky astronauts are flattened to a pulp.


    1. sandman said...
    2. hmm not a bad idea. I'd be worried about what might happen to it in an earthquake though :P

    3. Graeme said...
    4. Ok idea dude

    5. Ed said...
    6. 7 miles per second, "only" twice as fast as a racecar. You should be able to accelerate in a much shorter space than 300km.

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