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China is attempting to build a giant rail gun to fire astronauts into space

By T.K. Randall
March 22, 2024 · Comment icon 3 comments

Could electromagnetic rail guns be the answer ? Image Credit: NASA
Launching a rocket takes a lot of energy, but what if it were possible to fire a spacecraft into space instead?
Flying through space is one thing, but actually getting something into space in the first place is quite another - overcoming the Earth's gravitational pull sufficiently to escape into orbit is a challenge that must be overcome before any prospective space mission can even begin.

Today we use rockets to launch humans and cargo into the final frontier, but over the years scientists have dabbled with all manner of alternative solutions to getting things into space.

According to reports, China's space agency has recently been experimenting with one such alternative in the form of a giant electromagnetic rail gun capable of firing space vehicles into the heavens.

The gun works by accelerating the spacecraft along a lengthy electromagnetic track at speeds of up to mach 1.6.
Once it reaches the end of the track, the engines fire and propel it at high speed into the sky.

While such a system does still rely on some sort of rocket booster, it has the potential to significantly cut down on the amount of fuel needed for each launch.

It could also enable much larger vehicles to be propelled into space than would normally be possible.

It's an idea that has been explored before - even NASA attempted to develop a similar launch system of its own a few years back, although it seemingly didn't come to fruition.

If China does manage to perfect the method, though, it's likely other space agencies will be taking a much closer look at building their own versions of it.

Source: Futurism | Comments (3)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Get Real 21 days ago
Wouldn't this turn the occupants to mush?
Comment icon #2 Posted by and-then 21 days ago
Someone considered this plan a long time ago
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 19 days ago
No. It's not going to be accelerating the vehicle to orbital speed. From the article:  

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