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US Military Developing Gigantic Magnetic 21,600mph Slingshot

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

Since the US military sucks up nearly a trillion dollars of our income taxes every year, they have plenty of money to blow, and here's one of the cool toys such prodigious amounts of cash will buy: it's a giant magnetic slingshot. But the spending has hardly even started on this one yet—the Air Force so far has contributed a paltry half million dollars to LaunchPoint Technologies to develop its idea of a satellite launch system that accelerates its payload around a giant ring using magnetic levitation (MagLev) technology.

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How are they really going to use this?

This all sounds like a great idea until you realize that the 220-pound payload proposed to be launched by this device will be exposed to 10,000Gs of force as it's accelerated to a speed of 6 miles per second. Heck, that's 21,600mph. Imagine the noise that thing will make. Notice in the pictures here that it's situated out in the middle of nowhere.

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This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.


Satellite launcher? We're thinking it's probably going to be slinging lethal projectiles at those who hate America, rather than launching harmless and useful things like satellites.

Spin Me Up, Scotty [PopSci, via OhGizmo]

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DISCUSSION

1stage
Sean Harrington

There has also been development by the Air Force on both pneumatic (compressed air) and hydraulic (compressed liquid) versions of this "gun" for a while. Commercial LEO (low earth orbit) sattelites have been tested successfully, but as suggested in earlier posts, the acceleration stresses are about double what traditional rocket delivery methods are...

nothing insurmountable, you just have to slather more hot glue all over everything inside :)