Fwd = Nasa could use magnets to launch rockets
- Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
Original Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002 02:04:46 +0100
========================== Forwarded message begins ======================
Nasa could use magnets to launch rockets
Nasa scientists are looking at whether electromagnets could be use to
propel rockets into space.
If the magnetic levitation technology is successful it could
dramatically cut the costs of launching spacecraft.
Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Centre say the craft would need to
carry less fuel and so there would be more room for payload.
The method could be safer and cleaner, and would reduce the cost of
reaching orbit from $100,000 (about �70,000) per lb to $1,000 per lb.
Magnetic levitation, or maglev, works by using opposing magnetic
polarities to lift a metal sled carrying a plane off the tracks. The
magnetic fields in the rails and in the sled repel each other,
propelling the vehicle forward, reports CNN.
Nasa has already tested the system with a model plane, which
accelerated to 60mph in half a second. The Navy is also researching
maglev to launch its aircraft from carriers.
John Rawls, of General Atomics, one of the contractors on the Navy
project, said: "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."
Nasa's next hurdle is to launch a two ton load at 150mph with the
One of Nasa's research partners, George Scelzo of PRT Advanced Maglev
Systems, thinks useful Maglev systems are not far away.
He said: "Within five years you'll see aircraft being launched
magnetically. Most of the technical challenges have been overcome."
Story filed: 14:36 Friday 4th January 2002
Copyright � 2002 Ananova Ltd
========================== Forwarded message ends ========================