Re: Launch Rails..Was:Re: Orbital Towers.

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sat Apr 15 2000 - 08:29:48 MDT

On Fri, 14 Apr 2000, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:

> OK, new/old idea to talk about: mass drivers as launch system.
> Lets assume a launch acceleration of 4-6 g's within the rail, and that the
> launch pod is built with either a scramjet capability or can utilize laser
> propulsion beams aimed at it from the point at which it exits the linear drive
> system for second stage propulsion.

NASA (believe it or not) is working on this. I think they have a contract
with Boeing on it and there may be a couple of engineers from Livermore
involved. A net search should turn something up.

I've got the MIT Tech Review, June 1977 article sitting on my desk
re: the mass drivers designed at MIT for O'Neill's previous studies.
I'll probably get it converted to HText this week. It may provide
some of the information you are looking for.

I think 4-6 g's is pretty low considering 90% of the stuff you want
to launch is things like fuel, air, water, food, etc. If you go
for a higher g force you can get a much shorter (cheaper) mass
driver. The limits most likely involve the amount of current you
can dump into the coils without melting them and the repetition
rate you want. (I want really high rep-rates for dismantling Mercury).

Perhaps having the silly space station occupied will make NASA get
a little more clever about "dumb" (& cheap) resupply modes. That
will allow us to get the infrastructure built to allow really cheap
launches of the Sony Robo-Space-Dogs.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:09:19 MDT