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Low cost to orbit: maglifter

Ultra-low cost to orbit: startram


Maglifter low cost to orbit: maglifter

The present cost of launching payloads into orbit is extremely high. Putting a pound of payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) costs approximately $10,000 - more than if it were made of solid gold. The cost to orbit payloads varies with the kind of launch vehicle used, whether it is the Space Shuttle, Titan-IV, Atlas, Delta, Ariane-5, Proton, and so on. However, no existing launch system has the potential for a major reduction in launch cost from the $10,000 per pound value.

A range of advanced launch vehicle concepts are being investigated with the hope that a major reduction in launch cost - that is, down to $1000 per pound or less - can be achieved. One such approach is Maglifter.

In Maglifter, the spacecraft is magnetically levitated and accelerated along a maglev track several miles in length. After reaching approximately 600 mph, the spacecraft detaches from its maglev carrier and accelerator, and ascends to orbit using rocket or air-breathing engines. The maglev carrier/accelerator would then brake to a stop and return to its starting point for the next launch.

The maglev acceleration stage essentially replaces the 1st stage of a conventional rocket booster system, resulting in a much higher payload fraction. Using Maglifter, a spacecraft of a given take-off weight could carry approximately three times as much payload weight as a spacecraft of the same take-off weight that used conventional rockets for the first stage. Alternatively, for the same payload weight, the Maglifter spacecraft would weigh only a fraction of that of a spacecraft that used conventional rockets for its first stage.

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2001 Maglev 2000

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