Sunday, August 17, 2008

Space Elevator? Why not the Launch Loop?

From wiki: A launch loop or Lofstrom loop is a design for a belt based maglev orbital launch system that would be around 2000 km long and maintained at an altitude of up to 80 km (50 mi). A launch loop would be held up at this altitude by momentum of the belt as it circulates around the structure, in effect it transfers the weight of the structure onto magnetic bearings at each end which support it. Launch loops are intended to provide a way for non-rocket spacelaunch of vehicles weighing 5 metric tons by electromagnetically accelerating them so that they are projected into Earth orbit or even beyond. This would be achieved by the flat part of the cable which forms an acceleration track above the atmosphere. The published cost estimates for a working launch loop are significantly lower than a space elevator, but additionally with a greater launch capacity, lower payload costs and similar or greater payload masses. Unlike the space elevator no new materials need to be developed.

1 comment:

Annom said...

Very interesting! I came up with a magnetic launch loop myself (not the eddy currents thing, but a simple particle accelerator for space launch) and did some calculations; accelerations were extreme because you constantly change the direction of the velocity while going in circles (the centrifuge acceleration).

This whole eddy current thing seems to solve that! I'm going to look further into this, it may be fun thesis subject, but probably a bit difficult with the electromagnetic part.