By Rob Waugh
PUBLISHED: 05:16 EST, 12 March 2012 | UPDATED: 06:02 EST, 12 March 2012
A proposed ‘space train’ could make travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere far cheaper – and allow four million people a year to travel to space in just 20 years time.
Startram – designed by by one of the inventors of the ‘magnetic levitation’ trains in use in countries such as China – would be a railway driven by superconducting cables suspended in the air by magnetic forces.
Trains would shoot to orbit in seconds in an 80-mile sealed tube – and the scientists behind the $60 billion proposal claim it could revolutionise industry, allowing for cheap space-based solar power and generating unimaginable wealth from mines on asteroids.
‘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,’ say its creators.
The system would ‘shoot’ capsules into orbit, accelerating a sealed cargo capsule to a speed of five miles per second at 30G using high-powered electromagnets.
‘The resources of our own solar system are vast. The energy from the Sun hitting our small planet everyday is roughly 10,000 times our current energy needs. The raw materials locked up in asteroids and comets could support economic growth for millennia to come,’ say the scientists.
Its creators say that it would be the ‘next great step’ for human civilisation – and would provide a ‘safety net’ if life on Earth was threatened by wars or disaster.
‘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,’ say its designers, physicists including Dr James Powell, the co-inventor of ‘maglev’ train systems.
Nasa scientists have looked into the technology and pronounced it feasible.
‘Human beings are at the dawn of a new age. Either we will become a true spacefaring people, or we will be trapped on a overcrowded, strife-ridden planet with ever-dwindling resources,’ say its creators.
The physisicsts warn, ‘Startram will necessarily be an international program, otherwise the potential for a expensive and dangerous arms race between nations is too great. Therefore, the must come from you, the people. This is simply too important to leave up to individual nations and militaries.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2113785/The-11-09-Venus-leaving-platform-9-Startram-magnetic-space-train-deliver-million-people-year-orbit-2030-say-designers.html#ixzz1oxFM6Px7