Gallery: The Startram Maglev Train Could Make Space Travel Cheaper & Mo...


Space travel is a costly and inefficient process. Not only does it take a large amount of fuel to send the lightest payload into orbit (the Space Shuttle used over one million pounds of solid propellant to power its rocket boosters), but it is expensive and damaging to the environment (the last 28 years of shuttle service have seen over 42,000 tons of pollutants released into the atmosphere). However, two researchers believe that have found an alternative – maglev technology. Using an electromagnetic catapult launch system called Startram, they propose a process that would see cargo, astronauts and space tourists accelerated into low Earth orbit (LEO) via a magnetized train.

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  1. rockcandymtns October 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I’m all for space travel, but where are the mag-lev single ribbons of steel rail running terra firma?
    why have we not made that a reality?

  2. Andrew Searls October 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    How do you magnetically levitate tracks 1000 miles up? And what supports that levitation? The pictures show tiny little struts that look like they could barely hold their own weight. There seems to be a critical support structure detail in there, somewhere…

  3. RelayerM31 October 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    You could actually do this on the moon due to the space vacuum. On the Earth, not so much; the physics are all wrong here. The jet/ramjet/scramjet/rocket is about the only future solution for a runway takeoff to LEO that’s currently being developed. There are no substitutions, you have to accelerate mass to over 17,000 mph and that takes energy. Period.

  4. zeppflyer March 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Makes me think of the space cannon in Jules Verne’s “From Earth to the Moon”.

    This is great stuff. The two absolutely transformative technologies for saving the earth are clean power and a cheaper, less energy-intensive way of getting into space. Solve these and so many other problems just go away.

  5. GreatEmerald March 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    So it’s a railgun… IN SPACE! And shooting spacecraft instead of slugs. Sounds pretty interesting.

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