Did you ever think to spend your vacation or honeymoon near to moon ? Or did you ever think to watch our planet from Thermosphere ?? How about to take your spouse to the trip of universe in 2032 ??
After the Virgin Atlantic adventure trips to the universe, get ready to spend your vacation around the stars in the area of zero gravity.
This is Startram, a proposed launch system that would use magnetic levitation trains, a 1000-mile tunnel, and a superconducting cable to reach low Earth orbit. Amazingly, we already have the technology to do it…at far less than the cost of rockets.
For decades, it has been the preserve of a select few – highly trained professionals who have thrown off the shackles of gravity and escaped the Earth’s confines.
But space travel for all has come a little closer this week with the news that a revolutionary ‘train’ could make the idea of leisure breaks in orbit a reality in the next two decades. Such a system might sound like a fantastical device from a Jules Verne novel.
Now what is Startram ? Startram is based on existing maglev technology and basic physics. A motivated nation could build a startram system capable of launching 300,000 tons of payload into orbit for less than $40/kg. The infrastructure for a cargo-only version would cost on the order of $20 Billion to build and could be completed within 10 years. A people-capable version could be built for $60 Billion and be completed within 20 years.
The key technologies enabling Startram are as follows.
1. Maglev for Acceleration of Launch Vehicles
Maglev is an existing technology in use in several countries around the world today. The Japanese maglev program shown here is a superconducting maglev system which has evolved from the original designs of Drs. James Powell and Gordon Danby. The MLX01 vehicle test track has carried tens of thousands of passengers for many years without accident or incident. Currently, maglev transport vehicles routinely run faster than 500 km/h. The main impediment to running maglev much faster is friction caused by air drag. If maglev is placed in evacuated tubes with very low air pressures, it is possible to run maglev at 1000s of km/h. In fact, Chinese companies have already announced that they are planning this.
2. Magnetically Suspended Superconducting Cables
It’s easy to levitate objects electromagnetically. If you push enough current through two conductors in opposite directions, the conductors will be subject to a force pushing them apart. The more current the greater the force. With the advent of superconducting cables being developed for superconducting power grids, it is now possible to construct cables which can carry hundreds of megamps of current. These amperages are sufficient to supply a levitating force of 4 tons per meter of startram guideway, even when the conductors are separated by 20km.
3.Magneto Hydrodynamic (MHD) pumps
MHD applications such as pumps, generators and thrusters have been used for decades. The Startram system uses a “MHD Window” which allows one end of the launch tube to be open the atmosphere, thus permitting launch of the vehicle. Normally, atmospheric gases would immediately fill up the tube and the launch vehicle would be subject to extreme heating and stresses associated with traveling 8km/sec in air. However, the MHD window allows ionized gasses to be continually expelled from the tube, thus maintaining a near-vacuum in the tube at all times.
4. High-strength Structural Tethers
One of the challenges of the Space Elevator concept is to engineer tethers that have breaking lengths (i.e. the length of tether can attain before it breaks under its own weight) of thousands of kilometers. Startram tethers, in contrast, needs tethers with breaking lengths of only tens of kilometers, which is well within the specifications of modern fibers.
Tags: adventure in space, High-strength Structural Tethers, Maglev for Acceleration of Launch Vehicles, Magneto Hydrodynamic (MHD) pumps, space train, space travel, Startram Technology, tour to space, Virgin Atlantic adventure trip
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