17 September 2009

Cheap, High G, High Volume Space Launch

For humans to move from the cradle of their existence into the larger universe, they will need to move a large mass of life support materials and systems out of the planetary gravity well. Using chemical rockets, this task appears prohibitive almost to the point of impossibility. But using cleverly applied elecromagnetism, it might work.

Brian Wang links to a PDF proposal by Alexander Bolonkin and M. Krinker, that describes a novel system for moving large masses of support materials into orbit, cheaply.
The research shows the magnetic launcher can be built by the current technology. This significantly (by a thousand times) decreases the cost of space launches. Unfortunately, if we want to use the short rail way (412 m), any launcher request a big acceleration about 7.5x10^3 g and may be used only for unmanned, hardened payload. If we want design the manned launcher the rail way must be 1100 km for acceleration a = 3g (untrained passengers) and about 500 km (a = 6g) for trained cosmonauts. PDFSourceBolonkin Krinker
The design as laid out in the PDF document above, utilises homopolar faraday disc generators, and a large bank of flywheels for storing the large energies needed for high G magnetic launch. More from Brian Wang:
If this magnetic launcher costs 50 millions of dollars, lifetime of installation is 10 year and mountain is $2 millions of dollars per year. The launcher operates 350 days and launches 100 kg payload every 30 min (This means about 5000kg/day and 1750 tons/year). Then additional cost from installation is $2.86/kg then total cost is $6/kg.

The installation consists of a space apparatus, power drive stations, which include a flywheel accumulator (for storage) of energy, a variable reducer, a powerful homopolar electric generator and electric rails. The drive stations accelerate the apparatus up to hypersonic speed. The estimations and computations show the possibility of making this project a reality in a short period of time (for payloads which can tolerate high g-forces). The launch will be very cheap at a projected cost of 3 ─ 5 dollars per pound....

Bolonkin ideas to reduce costs:

1. Fly-wheels (25 tons and 710 m/s max rotating speed) from artificial fiber.
2. Small variable reducer with smooth change of turns and high variable rate.
3. Multi-stage monopolar electric generator having capacity of producing millions of amperes and a variable high voltage during a short time.
4. Sliding mercury (gallium) contact having high pass capacity.
5. Double switch having high capacity and short time switching.
6. Special design of projectile (conductor ring) having permanent contact with electric rail.
7. Thin (lead) film on projectile contacts that improve contact of projectile body and the conductor rail.
8. Homopolar generator has magnets inserted into a disk (wheel) form. That significantly simplifies the electric generator.
9. The rails and electric generator can have internal water-cooling.
10. The generator can return rotation energy back to a flywheel after shooting, while rails can return the electromagnetic energy to installation. That way a part of shot energy may be returned. This increases the coefficient of efficiency of the launch installation. _NextBigFuture

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The unmanned applications are very interesting to think about. In addition to enabling far more construction in orbit using modular components, large amounts of fuel could be raised to fascilitate that concept of a large mass with a tether which suborbital craft can loop onto with magnets to be accelerated to orbital speed. Lifting large amounts of fuel to modularly constructed craft could change the economics of lunar missions and deeper space travel as opposed to trying to squeeze everything on top of one giant rocket as was done with the Apollo missions.

Thursday, 17 September, 2009  
Blogger neil craig said...

412m, or multiples thereof, would mean it could be launched from high mountains leaving less atmosphere to push through.

The $50 milliion investment is so low that a guy in Beverley Hills could do it by little more than mortgaging his house.

Friday, 18 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Space enterprise is the route to the first free market trillionaire.

There are a lot of billionaires and people with multiple hundreds of millions. But mainstream western society is risk-averse, home-hugging in a feminine way.

The technology is unproven, yet it is essentially an "off the shelf" approach.

Electromagnetic launch for high volume cargo launch has always been the logical way to put a lot of mass into orbit. What is taking so long to get it done?

Friday, 18 September, 2009  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Al Fin,
I'd like to ask you to speculate.

It seems to me that the great distances between stars would indicate that we will never be able to do any exploration outside our Solar System, unless it was unmanned, and even then, who knows if there will be anyone left to collect the data, once the unmanned craft reaches it's destination.

This seems a reality to me given that all systems used for craft are propulsion systems.

Do you think we will ever come up with a way to send people and protective craft across galaxies using something more like (I know it sounds funny) fax technology? I guess that would be called Teleportation.

Sorry if my question seems ridiculous, but I have read, I believe at this site specifically, that scientists are beginning to have some success with teleportation.

Saturday, 19 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Using current propulsion systems, interstellar manned exploration and colonisation is hopeless.

Never expect technology to stay the same.

Politics currently suverts and suppresses technology in the western world. Eventually, technology will overthrow politics.

Sunday, 20 September, 2009  

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