To facilitate the launch of the spacecraft into low-Earth orbit (LEO), two researchers have developed technology maglev (magnetic levitation), to deliver cargo to a height of hundreds of kilometers above the Earth. While this concept sounds a bit fantastic, the researchers argue that the potential benefit to humanity far exceed the costs.
The proposed system startup, dubbed Startram, does not include in its membership and does not require a rocket propellant. It is based on accelerating engine, also known as electromagnetic catapult, which operates on the principle of Gauss, magnetic scattering the magnetized with a cargo of container. Such accelerators masses are often seen in science fiction. To date, there were several proposals, none of which has not yet been translated into reality. However, as reported by the developers of the system Startram, it can be created using the available technology today, but will be commercially profitable. Designers were Dr. James Powell, one of the inventors of magnetic levitation trains, and Dr. George Mays, an aerospace engineer.
Researchers have proposed to consider two models: the cargo version (Generation 1), the creation of which will cost approximately $ 20 billion and take 10 years, as well as the passenger version (Generation 2), which will cost about 60 billion and will require its creation 20 years.
In accordance with their plans, the length of the magnetic lines will be 1,609 kilometers, reaching a height of 20 kilometers. The entire path is enclosed in a vacuum tunnel to avoid the occurrence of acoustic shock waves that occur when reaching supersonic speeds above 9 km / s.
At the moment, the price of 1 kg of cargo sent to the DOE is 10,000 dollars. The researchers estimated that StarTram will send 1 kg in just 50 dollars. For space tourists, StarTram will reduce costs from 20 million (current price of sending one person to the ISS) to 5000 dollars.
Mays Powell and lists a number of useful applications, launch systems Startram: Protecting Earth from big asteroid, obtaining solar energy, mining of asteroids and comets, the development of the space industry and the colonization of the solar system.