Rail-Launched Scramjets To Space
NASA is looking into rail-launched scramjets, air-breathing jet engines driven my supersonic combustion. Early designs envision a 2-mile-long track at Kennedy Space Center shooting a Mach 10-capable carrier aircraft to the upper reaches of the atmosphere (see below). Then a second stage booster would fire to lift a satellite or spacecraft into orbit.
( Rail-launched aircraft and spacecraft concept.)
The scramjet launcher project could form the foundation of a future Advanced Space Launch System, with elements spread across different NASA centers to make it work, agency officials said.
But there are some challenges. To launch on an electrified track, for instance, the track would have to withstand at least 10 times the speeds commonly seen on tracks used for roller coasters, NASA scientists said. Roller coasters typically run about 60 mph (100 kph), they added.
SF fans recall the 1933 novel When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. In the story, an astronomer discovers that a pair of planet will soon blunder into the solar system. One will destroy the Earth, the other will assume a stable orbit.
Scientists work to build a ship that will transport enough people and earth animals and plant to the new world. The 1951 film adaptation shows this rail-launched craft.
(From When Worlds Collide trailer)
Take a look at the full trailer for When Worlds Collide. Via Space .com; thanks to Randall Glenn Modesto for submitting this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/15/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )
Related News Stories -
Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.
Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'
Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories