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Fwd = Nasa could use magnets to launch rockets

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl (Frits Westra) URL: http://www.ananova.com/news/./story/sm_487421.html Original Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2002
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      Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
      URL: http://www.ananova.com/news/./story/sm_487421.html
      Original Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002 02:04:46 +0100

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      Ananova

      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 [56]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
      system.

      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

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