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Whats wrong with this idea?

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posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 12:39 AM
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Could somebody tell me whats physically, mathematically, realistically, etc, wrong with this idea I've been playing around with?


For the longest time, I've always wondered why NASA didnt scrap rocket launched shuttles, and instead used an efficent means of initial launch.

Like a Rail Gun.

A rail gun is essentially a launching platform, made out of electromagnets, which would activate in sequence, and rapidly faster in succession. It would repell, and push upwards the bolt of the rail gun out of the barrel, with each push of the next electromagnet increasing the speed and velocity of the bolt, untill it expelled itself from the rail gun system.

So why not just use it for a shuttle launch?

Its cheaper then using the fuel needed for a launch.

Its more eco friendly

Its safer, with less risk of an explosion or an accident onboard of the craft.

Is there something majorly wrong with this concept? because I'm not the sharpest spoon in the drawer, and it seemed to come to my mind instantly. And obviously, electromagnetic propulsion works, look at Japans Electromagnet Rail train system. It just seems like something so easy, so much cheaper, and just, simply, so muchsafer, that to me, it would be a sure bet to use.

In addition, it would make a great way to travel to our neighbor planets, like mars. Instead of using all that fuel to get there, you have a station orbiting earth, just like the Hubble does. Have a computer lock onto where mars will be at the end of a trip, and have the shuttle dock, load up, and launch out on its way.

I mean, we're spending all the money now on a "space elevator" project as a means to get into space safer and cheaper. 18 billion dollars later, our first phase is a large thether rope, tied to a ballon, floating in space, to earth...

Yeah....okay...


So whats wrong with this idea? It just seems so simple, a rail gun launch system...

..Maybe I'm just not getting something.




posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 12:49 AM
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There's nothing wrong with it... In fact, it's been tossed around for years now.

I'm having a major brainfart right now, and I can't think of the actual name...

But it would be something very similar to what you suggested. The only problems, since there really arn't that many technical ones, are it would require a lot of area to build, even more money, and an even larger power source.

The idea I'm thinking of is a linear accelerator, preferably located at or near the equator, that would accelerate the payload along the ground for a few miles (the more the better), and then curve up the side of a mountain. The top of the mountain is where the end of the accelerator would be.

There are websites that talk about this, and probably a wikipedia article as well. Seriously, having a very large brainfart here... :shk:

[edit on 3/27/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]



posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 11:28 AM
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one problem with Magnetic launch and rails is the high maintinace and up-keep costs and the high acceleration invovled that would turn most people into goo.

It is much cheaper to use existing technology then investing and developing new technology. Because of the many budget cuts in the space program a lot of the developing technology fund was diverted to support existing programs.

It is like a cable company investing in repair trucks, sooner or later the costs of maintaining them will be more expensive then buying new ones. If you dont have the cost of the new vehciles figured into the budget for 5-10 years in advance the costs are going to be huge. That is what is happening to the shuttle program. We have had the space shuttle for so long, but havn't budgeted for a new program in all thsoe years are are looking at a huge investment instead of a smaller one that is spread out over several years

Welcome to the world of MBAs who have no clue what thier doing



posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 11:37 AM
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Originally posted by Jehosephat
one problem with Magnetic launch and rails is the high maintinace and up-keep costs and the high acceleration invovled that would turn most people into goo.


If you use a longer distance for the acceleration, you can accelerate to just as high of velocities but at a slower rate. Hence why I said the longer, the better for it.



posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 11:44 AM
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How much energy does an electromagnet driven launch system cost?

Is it less or more then the cost of all that fuel needed to launch a shuttle out of orbit?



posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 11:47 AM
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Originally posted by WolfofWar
How much energy does an electromagnet driven launch system cost?


Offhand? No idea. You would be accelerating whatever to, at the very least, 11 km/s though. So probably a lot



Is it less or more then the cost of all that fuel needed to launch a shuttle out of orbit?


It depends on the type of power, I suppose. I bet with nuclear fission or fusion power it would be cheaper.



posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 11:52 AM
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While it would make acceleration within the accelerator easier in a vacuum, the exit of it wouldn't be... Even at the top of a high mountain the atmosphere is still thick enough to cause some major problems.

The only reason I suggested up the side of a mountain was because in the works that I've read that was done because it would be easier than having mile tall supports and would be a lot more stable.

[edit on 3/27/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]

[edit on 27-3-2006 by Dyno25000]



posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 12:09 PM
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[edit on 27-3-2006 by Dyno25000]



posted on Mar, 29 2006 @ 04:47 PM
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Originally posted by WolfofWar
How much energy does an electromagnet driven launch system cost?

Is it less or more then the cost of all that fuel needed to launch a shuttle out of orbit?


Those question right there may be crucial as to why no one uses a rail gun...and because the idea came popular by way of comic books.

I would like to think that no one knows the answer to your first question, because building a rail gun itself is probably tedious, time consuming, expensive, with a lack of proper materials and unexplored engineering methods due to the aforementioned reasons.

The fuel cost for current rockets aren't very expensive from what I hear because the process is not too complicated and well known, and given current methods of producing electricity, as of now the current method is probably best until some radical system/reaction/device comes online to produce massive amounts of electricity in a given short time frame.

Also, how many engineers are familiar with rail guns? What university do you attend to learn how to build rail guns which are capable of launching 100 ton cargos 500 miles above the earth's surface. I am most definitely not saying engineers are incompetent, I jsut believe that the literatur engineers read on a regular bases does not allow them to become familiar with rail guns.

I am also certain that someone has worked and identified the problems associated with this idea, and many other forms of space propulsion. Given limited budgets and narrow management minds and a timetables of sucess, I say it may be well known as to why rail guns aren't used for this purpose, just not known to any of us.

[edit on 29-3-2006 by Frosty]



posted on Mar, 29 2006 @ 04:51 PM
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I´m up for that send me 10 billion dollars and i´ll give it a go.


Mod Note: One Line Post – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 3/29/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]



posted on Mar, 29 2006 @ 09:19 PM
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Welcome to the world of MBAs who have no clue what thier doing


Would you sign my petition to amend the Constitution to prohibit anyone with an MBA from running for president?



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