Needs Something Putting In Orbit? Why Use Rockets When You Can Use A Slingatron!
Peter Donnell / 3 years ago
While this isn’t tech news directly, it’s certainly something that caught my attention this week. Why use a typical rocket to launch payloads into space when you could be using a gargantuan spiral roller coaster that literally throws things into space!? Rockets are cool, giant throwing machines are way cooler, it’s a scientific fact.
Roller coaster might be to vague a term, because what it actually is, is a massive gyrating coil that speeds up objects to extreme velocity before firing this off the end of a ramp. While this might sound completely insane (which it does) there are proper NASA scientists behind this one and their trying to raise money to build a prototype of what they’re lovingly calling the “Slingatron”.
The company behind the Slingatron are seeking to raise $250,000 money through Kickstarter to build a 5.5 yard model which would be capable of launching 1 pound payloads at 2,237 mph as a proof of concept for a larger model. Their idea is to dramatically reduce the cost of launches and given that launching something like a 4 inch cube satellite on conventional rockets costs around $85,000 – $125,000 there is clearly a lot of room for cost reductions.
The electric powered Slingatron would be up to 328 meters across, the object would travel a spiral launch track on a modular platform that could gyrate at 40 to 60 cycles per second, giving the payload object a strong centripetal force while the track accelerates the object upto speeds of 4.3 miles per second before letting it go from the end of the track like a slingshot.
“A payload launched in this manner will require a launch velocity sufficient to compensate for the small loss traversing the atmosphere, plus a small on-board delta-V capability needed for final orbit insertion and circularization,” says the campaign page, which is organized by Virginia R&D company HyperV Technologies.
“The latter will typically be accomplished with a small on-board kick motor. The result is a complete land-based electrically powered Earth to orbit launcher.”
Check out the official Kickstarter page here.