Cheap ways of getting to space.

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by draqon, Mar 26, 2007.

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  1. DRZion Theoretical Experimentalist Valued Senior Member

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    Launching things into space via cannon has been tried a few decades ago, as in government funded research. I did a little bit of reading around this topic a few years ago. It seems they were able to launch things like 50 km into the atmosphere, but no more than that. I wonder if new advances in material science would change that.

    I think launching from a high altitude could definitely help - not only less gravity and less potential energy required, but also less air friction and perhaps less winds to mess with the electronics. There is a train track going through the Tibetan plateau which goes up to something like 7,000 meters - that would be a good start. However, maybe a partial space elevator would be better - a giant platform floating on helium balloons 30 km up, with a winch on it

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    the rockets would launch without puncturing the helium balloons, of course
     
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  3. wlminex Banned Banned

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    . . . (Humor here-->) . . . did you really mean "winch" . . .or "wench"?
     
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  5. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    Post 46:
     
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  7. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    Yes, but not a mountain. Everest, the highest place on Earth, is hardly free from wind now is it? It's smack bang in the middle of the troposphere:

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    (Wikipedia)

    And there is no infrastructure to support a lunch site. Like I said earlier, there are cities high up, with roads and services, but they are around 3000m, so even less of a head start.

    The little aeroplane in the pic is a clue,... it's far better to launch off the back of a regular plane, than from up a mountain.
     
  8. michael_taylor Registered Senior Member

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    If you're moving a lot of mass, I'd say something like a launch loop ( "active structure maglev cable transport system").

    It's like a bundle of hollow tubes with no air inside them, and each tube is made of electromagnets, and lumps of iron run through the tubes at very ( very !) high speed, shedding some of their vertical momentum into the cable through the magnets. I think you can recoup some of the energy when they come down, then you send them through a tunnel back to the start.

    Then you just climb up it.

    But this is only cost effective if you're moving a LOT of mass. Like if people live on the moon or something, because your initial commissioning cost is high, but after that you can send as much as you want for the cost of the electricity to move the iron.
     
  9. michael_taylor Registered Senior Member

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    Yikes, that was a terrible explanation.

    Go to launchloop.com if you're interested. The first page is a picture with summary. There are pdfs on the site with lots of diagrams and math, and I think wikipedia has a page.

    To me it seems possible with today's materials.
     
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