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NASA's maglev project

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  • cheesedanish2001
    re: magnetic levitation of spacecraft? This was on CNN/tech today. I have also include links for the latest NASA pubs on maglev/space elevator project.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2002
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      re: magnetic levitation of spacecraft?
      This was on CNN/tech today. I have also include links for the latest
      NASA pubs on
      maglev/space elevator project.

      NASA explores electromagnetic space

      By Fred Katayama
      CNN Financial Correspondent

      HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (CNN) --Researchers at NASA are looking into
      whether electromagnets can be used to send rockets into space, a
      technological leap that could dramatically cut launch costs.

      Spacecraft burn hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel to reach
      orbit. But rocket
      engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center are investigating
      electromagnetic power can do the job.

      It would be a much cleaner and safer method of launching vehicles, and
      cheaper. NASA hopes to drive down the cost of rocket departures from
      per pound to $1,000 per pound.

      "Hopefully, we can reduce the weight of the fuel and oxidizer that's
      needed to be
      carried on board the vehicle and that will decrease the size of the
      vehicle," said
      NASA scientist Kenneth House. "So hopefully, we could get more payload
      space with less of the fuel."

      Magnetic levitation, or maglev for short, works by using opposing
      polarities to lift a metal sled carrying a plane off the tracks. For
      propulsion, the
      magnetic fields in the sled and in the rails repel each other, pushing
      the vehicle

      Last spring, NASA succeeded in magnetically launching a model plane,
      accelerated to 60 miles an hour in less than half a second.

      NASA researchers have set lofty goals for this project, but they face
      a major
      obstacle: the scarcity of funding. They have only $30,000 for the next
      phase of this
      project. NASA cannot move onto the next stage immediately, but
      competitors working on similar projects.

      "This is research, so we're interested in anybody somewhere pursuing
      this," said
      John Cole, manager of space transportation research at Marshall.

      The U.S. Navy is conducting maglev research. It plans to make its
      fleet largely
      electric, catapulting fighters from its carriers with magnetic
      propulsion instead of
      steam. Northrop Grumman and General Atomics of San Diego are the
      contractors competing on the project.

      "A very high power propulsion system is needed to give the energy to
      launch a large
      aircraft in the length of a football field. That will be demonstrated
      in about two
      years," said John Rawls, vice president of electromagnetic systems for

      Rockets are a bigger challenge. NASA's next hurdle is launching a
      rocket at 150
      mph on a track that can carry up to two tons.

      Some NASA scientists think maglev launches may be 20 years away. But
      one of the
      agency's research partners is more optimistic.

      "Within five years, you'll see aircraft being launched magnetically.
      Most of the
      technical challenges have been overcome. We are now in the scaling
      areas to match
      the aerodynamics of the launch with the spacecraft and the launcher,"
      said George
      Scelzo of Chicago-based PRT Advanced Maglev Systems.

      But to propel their research onto the next stage, NASA and its
      partners will need to
      land millions more in money.

      Find this article at:

      Space Elevator Technology Development Needs

      David Smitherman

      NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
      FD02, Advanced Concepts Office, Flight Projects Directorate,
      Huntsville, Alabama 35812
      Tel. 256-961-7585, E-mail: David.Smitherman@...

      This paper will summarize the findings from a 1999 NASA workshop on
      Space Elevators held at the Marshall Space Flight Center
      (MSFC), and will identify key technologies for space elevators that
      are synergistic with near term propulsion and
      transportation needs. The workshop on Space Elevators was sponsored by
      the Advanced Projects Office in the Flight Projects
      Directorate at MSFC, and was organized in cooperation with the
      Advanced Space Transportation Program at MSFC and the Advanced
      Concepts Office in the Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters.
      Five primary technology thrusts that are critical to
      the development of space elevators in the 21st century were identified
      in the workshop. The five technology areas are:
      Develop advanced high strength materials like the graphite, alumina,
      and quartz whiskers that exhibit laboratory strengths
      over 20 Gpa. Continue development of the fullerene nanotube materials
      that exhibit strengths 100 times stronger than steel.
      Introduce these new lightweight, high-strength materials to the
      commercial, space and military markets for new and improved
      product developments.
      Continue development of space tether technologies for space
      transportation systems to gain experience in the deployment and
      control of long structures. Utilize higher strength materials, as
      they become available. Continue analysis on momentum
      exchange and LEO space elevator facilities for low cost in-space
      transfer to GEO.
      Introduce lightweight composite structural materials to the general
      construction industry for the development of tall tower
      and building construction systems. Foster the development of
      multi-kilometer height towers for commercial applications
      (i.e., communications, science observatories, and launch platforms).
      Develop high-speed electromagnetic propulsion systems for mass
      transportation systems (Maglev), launch assist systems
      (Maglifter), and high velocity launch rails.
      Develop transportation, utility, and facility infrastructures to
      support space construction and space industrial development.
      Key components include highly reusable space launch systems, reusable
      in-space transportation, and space facility support
      from LEO to GEO.
      This paper will examine each of the key technology areas for space
      elevators and identify propulsion and transportation
      technologies that are synergistic with more near term transportation
      concepts. In conclusion it will be shown that there
      are many technologies that either are, or could be developed today
      that will have near term benefits for next generation
      propulsion and transportation systems as well as leading down the path
      to the more far term technology needs for space
      URL: http://sli.nasa.gov/ast/abstracts/6B_Smitherman.html

      re: 2001 advanced space propulsion workshop
      URL: http://sli.nasa.gov/ast/advpropconf01.html
      1. Antimatter Propulsion, Chair: G. A. Smith, Synergistic
      Technologies, Inc.
      2. Advanced Chemical and MHD Propulsion, Chair: Charles Schaefer, NASA
      3. Beamed Momentum Propulsion (Photon [Solar/Laser/Microwave] and
      Electromagnetic [Solar Wind] Sails), Chair: Randy Baggett, NASA MSFC
      4. Beamed Energy Propulsion (Solar/Laser/Microwave Thermal), Chair:
      Edwards, NASA MSFC
      5. Advanced Electric Propulsion, Chair: James Polk, NASA JPL
      6. Tethers, Towers, and SkyHooks, Chair: Robert Forward, Tethers
      7. Fission Propulsion, Chair: Stanley K. Borowski, NASA GRC
      8. Propulsion Concepts for Interstellar Missions, Chair: Robert
      Frisbee, NASA
      9. Fusion Propulsion, Chair: Francis Thio, NASA MSFC
      re: some google forums on electromagnetic stuff:

      These seem to be rather inactive at the moment!!

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