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Space Transportation Science

The Science Behind Building a Space Gun 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the acme-approved dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Astronomer and gamer Scott Manley (more famous for his Kerbal Space program coverage) has created a fantastic video explaining the science behind building guns that could one day be used to launch payloads into space. It's not as easy as simply making a bigger gun, there's a whole host of unorthodox 'gun' designs which work around the limitations of garden variety propellants."

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The Science Behind Building a Space Gun

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:23PM (#42554367)
    LOL no kidding. Paging Dr Gerald Bull!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Bull [wikipedia.org]

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kylon99 (2430624) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:25PM (#42554377)

    In honor of the time before xkcd, but in the style of such:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon [wikipedia.org]

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:35PM (#42554417)

    I think it's called a mass driver

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:48PM (#42554493)

    they have, but it's impractical as in taking up airspace which causes it to act like a wall in the sky preventing airplanes to pass through.
    it's easier and cheaper to just build a space elevator in the long run.

    it's not economically interesting to prevent airplane traffic.

  • by dns_server (696283) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:00PM (#42554549)

    Why not scale down the LHC and build something that is capable of accelerating something relatively small say 10-100kg fast enough to make it to orbit instead of accelerating atoms to nearly the speed of light.

    The problem with conventional rockets is you need to carry the fuel to get in to orbit as well as the fuel to go where you need to. The bigger the ship the more fuel you need to carry to overcome the weight of the fuel.

    If you can split the carrying of fuel for your journey from getting your rocket in to orbit you would not need to waste as much fuel lifting itself.

    You could set up an automated system that would fire a 10kg payload of fuel every 10 minutes and get what you need over time far cheaper than one big launch.

  • by F34nor (321515) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:10PM (#42554603)

    The bones of the space gun are rusting in the Bahamas. The biggest problem is A LOT OF MOTHERFUCKING Gs. That's why I say we just launch barrels of water.

  • by Cryacin (657549) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:22PM (#42554657)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_loop [wikipedia.org]

    Much better than a cannon, and finally a place where we can put all of that electricity from our power plants that we don't use during trough times to be used again when you get a spike. Just gloss over the energy of a small nuclear device in a moving cable over a 2000km area bit. That's not going to bother anyone...
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater @ g m a il.com> on Friday January 11, 2013 @12:33AM (#42555009) Homepage

    One problem, as I understand it: a projectile launched from a big space gun would need to have its orbit adjusted or it will return to Earth. The video mentioned this issue briefly

    All gun schemes mention this 'briefly', if they mention it at all (most don't) - mostly in hopes that nobody will notice. The mass of the engines and fuel needed to circularize the orbit dominates the payload, and is *very* difficult to make resistant to the shock and acceleration. It's pretty much a showstopper all by itself, without even mentioning the need for (the currently non-existent) heat shielding needed to protect the payload on ascent. As the vehicle bleeds off energy to atmospheric drag and gravitational forces as it coasts upward, it has to leave the muzzle of the gun at considerably more than orbital velocity... essentialy exposing the payload to re-entry conditions at launch.

    P.S. I saw proposals for an Apollo-style mission from Earth to Mars: a single giant rocket launches everything in one launch. Why is anyone even looking at doing it that way?

    Nobody that I'm aware that's even remotely serious is proposing to do it that way.

  • by pla (258480) on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:29AM (#42556221) Journal
    Mod parent up (odd, I had a ton of points yesterday but none today).

    Gerald Bull [www.cbc.ca] solved this problem 20-30 years ago. He even offered it to America, and we told him to kindly go fuck himself, so he did his work in Canada (actually right on the border, with his campus straddling both sides of the border).

    Then the Jews decided he didn't deserve to continue living, so they sent a team of assassins to another sovereign country (without permission from that country) to kill him.

    Hmm, violating national sovereignty to assassinate scientists... Where have I heard that before? [wsws.org]. Oh, right... Looks like pretty standard operating procedure for our bestest buds in the world, killing geeks.

2 pints = 1 Cavort