Launch Ring Magnetic Launch System By LaunchPoint
The Launch Ring, a vast circle of superconducting magnets capable of hurling satellites and other cargo into space, is the subject of a new two-year study financed by the USAF. The study will be carried out by LaunchPont Technologies, based in Goleta, California. The study will be led by James Fiske, who has done advanced work in designing maglev (magnetic levitation) freight transportation systems.
(LaunchPoint Magnetic launch ring concept drawing)
The Launch Ring will be similar in some ways to the enormous particle accelerators already in use. Most importantly, the device will (as its name implies) use a circular track, rather than the straight track considered in earlier designs (not to mention being considered in early science fiction novels).
The system would work by gradually accelerating a sled with a cone-shaped shell containing the cargo to a speed of ten kilometers per second. The shell would then separate from its sled and slide into a side tunnel angled at thirty degrees upward. The cone would emerge from the tunnel with a net speed of about eight kilometers per second, sufficient to achieve orbit. The shell would also contain some fuel for trajectory adjustment and placement in a proper orbit.
One disadvantage would be the substantial acceleration forces encountered when circling the ring at speed - up to 2,000 g's. The company points out that the US military uses electronics in laser-guided artillery, which survive being fired out of guns at up to 20,000 g's.
Key to the proposed usefulness of the Launch Ring is the hoped-for low cost to orbit. The cost per pound to orbit is about $6,000 for the space shuttle; it is estimated that if the Launch Ring is used 300 times per year, the cost would be about $745 per pound.
If this study pans out, funding would be sought for a small 20-50 meter diameter model, which would take at least four years to build. Obviously, we won't be launching payloads this way for quite some time, but this is a good first step.
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein also thought about the concept of a similar launching device. In his novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, published in 1966, he wrote about an escape-speed induction catapult built on the Moon. In the novel, the Loonies have this advice for a similar device to built on Earth:
"...But the site must be a high mountain. It's that air pressure you spoke of, or air density. The catapult head should be at as high altitude as feasible but the ejection end, where the load travels over eleven kilometers per second, must be in air so thin that it approaches vacuum. Which calls for a very high mountain. Take the peak Nanda Devi, around four hundred kilometers from here. It has a
railhead sixty kilometers from it and a road almost to its base. It is eight thousand meters high. I don't know that Nanda Devi is ideal. It is simply a possible site with good
logistics; the ideal site would have to be selected by Terran engineers."
"A higher mountain would be better?"
"Oh, yes, sir!" I assured him. "A higher mountain would be preferred over one nearer the equator. The catapult can be designed to make up for loss in free ride from Earth's
rotation. The difficult thing is to avoid so far as possible this pesky thick atmosphere... The length of an escape-speed catapult is determined by the acceleration. We think--or
the computer calculates--that an acceleration of twenty gravities is about optimum. For Earth's escape speed this requires a catapult three hundred twenty-three kilometers in
(Read more about Heinlein's escape-speed induction catapult)
Read more about the Launch Ring and visit the LaunchPoint magnetic satellite launch system page. Thanks to Baja for writing in with the tip on the story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/6/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )
Related News Stories -
Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...' - Gene Roddenberry, 1968.
Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
Can Musk Starship Astronauts Use Magnetic Boots?
'Walking awkwardly in the magnetic boots that held him to the black mass of meteoric iron...'
Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
'Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity...'
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.
Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'
Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'
Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'
Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'
China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'
China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'
Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '
Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'
Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'
Fabric Automatically Cools Or Insulates Based On Environment
'...a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system.'
Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'
John Deere Self-Driving Tractor
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'
North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'
Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories