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Give a Dam about Space

Posted by: skyhigh - Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:55 am
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Give a Dam about Space 
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Post Give a Dam about Space   Posted on: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:55 am
I remember once seeing a program (perhaps on the Discovery channel, or History channel) that during WW II the Germans had a plan to create a big launch track to launch a plane from Germany into space to attack the U.S.

I was thinking this is not a bad idea for sending materials into space. Couldn't they build a dam and then divert its energy for launches. Basically create a big "dumb" missile that runs down a track for like a few miles to build up speed, then straight up a 45 degree ramp. The track could be a superconducting levitating track like in Japan & Germany. I always thought when the space shuttle has to carry all its fuel with it, that must be very expensive just to lift itself up.

But a dam could provide energy for cities. And then when needed divert all its energies for the launch. So there would be dual use. Probably couldn't send people into space this way, as I would guess to launch such a rocket would have to go extremely fast to break the space barrier on one go. But materials can go at any speed.


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Post Perhaps wrong section of the forum   Posted on: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:06 am
Maybe this should be moved to spacetalk technologies. I wasn't really paying much attention to where I have posted, but I'll try to stick better with the group definitions.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:48 am
Concerning your initial post I've read the book "Peenemünde" Walter Dornberger worte after the war. Dornberger was chief of the R&D-agency that constructed and built german rockets. The agency designed a jet-driven plane to attack the US - this plane would have been based on the V2.

He is reporting that there really was a ramp where the V1 were launched from that bombed british cities by falling down to them.

If I remember right he has been thinking of using a ramp for his own design of a plane too.

And he wanted to launch into space for those purposes we are used to after the war.



Answer to your second post:

To me you have posted in the right section - teams allready working airplane-like launches might use a ramp too. That might require modifications of the vehicles - but not replacemnets by quite other concepts I suppose. Might that cause suboptimalities? Perhaps - but the ramp could have effects on who is going to be in the lead.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)

EDIT: Thank you for your hint, Dr_Keith_H


Last edited by Ekkehard Augustin on Wed Nov 03, 2004 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 03, 2004 11:40 am
See, now this is why spelling is cosidered by some to be dam impotant.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:30 pm
Just because I think of it from time to time - in the Enterprise series with Captain Archer there is an episode where a smal ramp is used. The vehicle equipped with a warp drive wheels down rails that at their end point up into the sky. There the warp-vehicle ascends into space.

So migh a ramp be of use under particular conditons or at a particular combination of circumstances???



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:21 pm
I think a ramp would be most useful if built along the slope of a tall mountain (5 to 8 kilometers), so the air would be thinner at the end of the ramp. This would reduce aerodynamic forces and increase the maximum possible launch velocity. This is because much of the fuel spent during launch is used just to gain altitude and counter air resistance and gravity, and not for acceleration.

At 5-6 km, the air is 50% thinner and at 8 km it is 70% or so thinner, so there's a considerable gain to be had, but I think the cost would be great. Max Q for a shuttle launch is around 11 km. It would be interesting to know how such a ramp would affect the payload fraction of current rockets.

I think an air-breathing first stage could reach a higher altitude and possibly a higher velocity than would be possible on a ramp, but for a big rocket, such a stage could be prohibitively expensive/difficult to manufacture, while the cost of a ramp scales much better with rocket size.


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