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Maglev launch

Posted by: Garnetstar - Thu Sep 11, 2003 1:24 am
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Maglev launch 
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Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:28 pm
BEM wrote:
I wonder how small a massdriver could be made.. one idea I had was to launch tiny magnetised iron particles, and use their magnetic proprties to allow them to clump in orbit. Possibly you could send them on a path where they would reliably burn up in the earths atmosphere if not collected.


Not sure it would be a good idea to fill an orbit up with lots of pieces of iron even if it did decay in a couple of orbits, isn't that called shrapnel? :)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:12 pm
yes.. well as you can tell, I considered it.

My main answer is that it isnt like filling the sky with a zillion microscopic objects to track, it would only make one specific path dangerous, and the path would not remain dangerous after the experiment.

The interesting part is really just that perhaps we could begin experimenting with sending materials from the moon before we are prepared for the investment of a device that could send entire 1kg payloads multiple times per second.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:58 am
Sometimes I start to think about the question if there may be ways to apply the maglev technology to launch crewed vehicles in a vacuum like on the Moon.

This is linked to the idea if the technology might be installed in space in an earthian orbit or even an orbit of another planet - menat not only to accelerate cargo or vehicles towards other planet but also to decelerate them so that they go down to the surface and reenter at significant lower speeds than the Space Shuttle. They still would have to have equipment to decelerate for a soft landing I suppose.

The problem is that I at present don't have no data about the weight of a maglev system in space. It wouldn't need a ringed tunnel perhaps since there is no atmosphere around it - but I am not sure.

If a maglev system in space wouldn't have more mass than the ISS it's looking possible to me. And it might enable more flexibility regarding another aspect I might start a new thread about.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:51 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Sometimes I start to think about the question if there may be ways to apply the maglev technology to launch crewed vehicles in a vacuum like on the Moon.

This is linked to the idea if the technology might be installed in space in an earthian orbit or even an orbit of another planet

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I am very enthusiastic about the idea of maglev for precisely those two reasons.

In fact just recently Ive been trying to picture the sort of craft that would merely lift a module to the orbital loop. This requires about 7 times less energy than getting it to orbital velocity so Im sure it could be both single stage (not counting module) and built of highly robust parts (also it needs no heat shielding)

The module that it raises is met by a sky crane that clings magnetically to the orbital loop and can accelerate the module up to orbital velocity at a gradual pace. Im thinking the module would be a lifting body capable of standard reenty in emergencies but typically would return by being deacceerated by the crane first as you suggested.

The loop could also lob the module (or a more specialised craft) at the moon, where it is met by a similar maglev device with similar crane (except this one is on the moon instead of orbiting). The same technology could also connect bases on the moon.

These sorts of maglev tracks could be very very very heavy though so we probably are not going to build them until we master smaller mass drivers that can propel 1kg payloads from the moon to orbit at machinegun speeds, not to mention the ability to smelt the components off earth... but they are still part of my hundred year plan ;)

Also in terms of ISRU projects, I think mass producing heavy maglev track components will be one of the easier ones. After oxygen and solar panels perhaps, but certainly way easier than creating anything remotely rivaling cutting edge space technology. They might only have to be uniform slabs of fridge magnet like material! (the requirements of a maglev are much lower than a mass driver, just needing to levitate the payload as it gradually accelerates.) It is the cranes that do all the inteligent part, not just to accelerate along them but also to shepard them in orbit


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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 31, 2007 4:40 pm
What about using a maglev launcher from one of Mars' moons to send stuff back to Earth?

Wouldn't building one in Earth orbit mean that it would need to be reboosted regularly due to the upper atmosphere drag? Even placed in a high orbit wouldn't it drop due to its reaction to the projectile?

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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 01, 2007 12:00 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
What about using a maglev launcher from one of Mars' moons to send stuff back to Earth?

Wouldn't building one in Earth orbit mean that it would need to be reboosted regularly due to the upper atmosphere drag? Even placed in a high orbit wouldn't it drop due to its reaction to the projectile?


Yes it would have to recover momentum. One way it could do this is by deaccelerating returning craft back to stationary wrt to the earth, which also makes reentry much less stressful for the craft. Also there might be efficient ways of using electrical propulsion... more efficient than sending fuel up from earth anyway.

An orbital maglev is a pretty distant idea. It would probably not be economic until we have cities on the moon. I just like it because unlike space elevators or single-stage-to-orbit it doesnt involve pushing materials even closer to their theoretical limits.

If we were to use a massdriver to return material from phobos or demios I expect it would be for some material not available from the moon. I know they have carbon. Anyone know if they have hydrogen or water in useful amounts?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:19 pm
Since I already talked about a lunar maglev and since ther already was the idea of an orbital maglev or maglev on the martian moons.. - what about installing maglevs around or at asteroids or smallest moons of the gas giants?

What about powering maglevs in a jovian orbit by the jovian radiation belt?

Maglevs also might be applied to send propellant to approaching vehicles without consuming fuel. It might be the fuel for orbital insertion.

What about it?



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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:14 pm
With a space solar power infrastructure this would be feasible.

However if you have a maglev launcher on an asteroid, you have the ability to push the asteroid around. This has more interest I think than delivery of mined items, although both are possible with the same equipment.

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