NASA's maglev project
- 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
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
magnetic fields in the sled and in the rails repel each other, pushing
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
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
John Cole, manager of space transportation research at Marshall.
The U.S. Navy is conducting maglev research. It plans to make its
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,"
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
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
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
re: 2001 advanced space propulsion workshop
1. Antimatter Propulsion, Chair: G. A. Smith, Synergistic
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
9. Fusion Propulsion, Chair: Francis Thio, NASA MSFC
re: some google forums on electromagnetic stuff:
These seem to be rather inactive at the moment!!