NASA Engineers Propose Combining a Rail Gun and a Scramjet to Fire Spacecraft Into Orbit

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Space
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From the article:

In April, President Obama urged NASA to come up with, among other things, a less expensive method than conventional rocketry for launching spacecraft. By September, the agency’s engineers floated a plan that would save millions of dollars in propellant, improve astronaut safety, and allow for more frequent flights. All it will take is two miles of train track, an airplane that can fly at 10 times the speed of sound, and a jolt of electricity big enough to light a small town.

The system calls for a two-mile- long rail gun that will launch a scramjet, which will then fly to 200,000 feet. The scramjet will then fire a payload into orbit and return to Earth. The process is more complex than a rocket launch, but engineers say it’s also more flexible. With it, NASA could orbit a 10,000-pound satellite one day and send a manned ship toward the moon the next, on a fraction of the propellant used by today’s rockets.

It may sound too awesome to ever be a reality. But unlike other rocket-less plans for space entry, each relevant technology is advanced enough that tests could take place in 10 years, says Stan Starr, a physicist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

I like this idea because it will use a lot less fuel then the crap we use today and it might make space flights more frequent which is always a good thing.

Original site.

WOG out.


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