Mass Drivers

Lunar_base_concept_drawing_s78_23252_1 I first became interested in these about twenty years ago after watching a "Nova" production about  them.  They feature prominently in the old Heinlein novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as a cheap way to deliver the ore products of Lunar mining to target areas in the Pacific Ocean where they could be recovered.  If you are getting the idea that I am interested in space programs, you are right.

Pat Lang

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19 Responses to Mass Drivers

  1. Nabil says:

    I remember that book.
    Cheaper and safer transport to space is definitely needed, because when you think about it, putting people and very expensive things on top of a tube filled with chemicals that are violently on fire is kind of silly.
    Another idea is:

  2. ked says:

    well, great – there’s goes your reputation, Col. “… you mean Lang, that Heinlein-reading space cadet?” well, it already feels pretty close to “Revolt in 2100”.
    actually, at the rate things are going, getting off the planet may be our best means to assure survival of our species (well, there’s always Dr. Strangelove’s approach…).
    interesting that mankind’s capacity to annihilate and save itself are so closely linked and balanced.
    “who’s in charge of aiming this mass-driver thing, Gen. Turgidson?”

  3. Will says:

    Isn’t that also the theory of some new Australian (?) gun that shoots some ungodly rounds per minute. Anyway, the basic theory is electromagnetic propulsion. I’ll try to research it again and come up with the cite. The magnetic levitation trains also use linear EM acceleration.
    Have you had time to look into Heim theory. It started out as quantization of spacetime. Recenttly, this kind ot idea has also become more popularized in loop quantum gravity theory (similar to Heim theory) and was featured in a Scientif American article “Atoms of Space and Time.”
    But the 12 dimensional extended Heim Theory allows faster than light travel.
    Wikipedia has a nice article on it on which I’ve done some editing. An Extended HT paper won an award in a space aeronautical journa last year which generated a slew of newspaper articles last year. Here’s one of them.
    Welcome to Mars express: only a three hour trip, The Scotsman, 2006-01-05
    Best Wishes

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have been unable any detailed accounts of Heim Theory in English.
    It is not the only theory that permits faster than light travel:
    Harry Bateman in 1905 disovered singular solutions of Maxwell’s Equations that could exceed the speed of light.
    Within General Relativity, there is that possibilty as well. See Alcubierre Warp Drive metric & Krasnikov metric. (Both require billion of times the energy of the Universe to set them up.)
    Furthermore, if one takes Volikhov’s application of the ideas of quantum theory of liquids to the Universe then fater than light speed is possible.
    I find these all rather intriguing but if ETs exist and these theories hold water, you would have expected them to have been already here, wouldn’t you?

  5. zanzibar says:

    The new NASA $8 billion contract to Lockheed for a manned space vehicle to the moon is based on 30yr old technology according to a radio report I heard. Does it mean we are not making any progress despite serious financial investment? Of course in typical cost-plus government contracts the program costs will be substantially higher with a large percentage “consumed” in “other costs”.

  6. Grimgrin says:

    The problem is getting out of earth’s “gravity well” once you have an object in space, you can use ion drives or lasers, or solar sails, alot of stuff becomes very dooable. Unfortunately if you have to haul all your materials into orbit at $10,000/kg, you’re not going to be able to do much except put up ever more sophisticated probes and proof of concept devices, since commercial or practical use is never going to be economical.
    We either need something like Sea Dragon, space elevator or earth based railgun “booster”, (sort of like an electromagnetic Project Babylon) to make it cheap enough to move large amounts of mass into orbit.

  7. Will says:

    HT in english for intro discussion
    see links there for more info
    the physorg forum site has 69 pages of discussion on HT
    i post as will314159
    Best Wishes

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am aware of the discussion pages but they are not detailed enough; they do not have the field equations of the theory nor description of how, for example, the masses are calculated.

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    We can get of the Earth’s gravity field more cheaply: look at
    Once there, one can use direct nuclear propulsion (Project Orion) or nuclear powered propulsion (Russian Technology).

  10. Will says:

    The New Scientist article really explains HT for space propulsion
    “This force is a result of the interaction of Heim’s fifth and sixth dimensions and the extra dimensions that Dröscher introduced. It produces pairs of “gravitophotons”, particles that mediate the interconversion of electromagnetic and gravitational energy. Dröscher teamed up with Jochem Häuser, a physicist and professor of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzgitter, Germany, to turn the theoretical framework into a proposal for an experimental test. The paper they produced, “Guidelines for a space propulsion device based on Heim’s quantum theory”, is what won the AIAA’s award last year.
    Claims of the possibility of “gravity reduction” or “anti-gravity” induced by magnetic fields have been investigated by NASA before (New Scientist, 12 January 2002, p 24). But this one, Dröscher insists, is different. “Our theory is not about anti-gravity. It’s about completely new fields with new properties,” he says. And he and Häuser have suggested an experiment to prove it.
    This will require a huge rotating ring placed above a superconducting coil to create an intense magnetic field. With a large enough current in the coil, and a large enough magnetic field, Dröscher claims the electromagnetic force can reduce the gravitational pull on the ring to the point where it floats free. Dröscher and Häuser say that to completely counter Earth’s pull on a 150-tonne spacecraft a magnetic field of around 25 tesla would be needed. While that’s 500,000 times the strength of Earth’s magnetic field, pulsed magnets briefly reach field strengths up to 80 tesla. And Dröscher and Häuser go further. With a faster-spinning ring and an even stronger magnetic field, gravitophotons would interact with conventional gravity to produce a repulsive anti-gravity force, they suggest.
    “A spinning ring and a strong magnetic field could produce a repulsive anti-gravity force”
    Dröscher is hazy about the details, but he suggests that a spacecraft fitted with a coil and ring could be propelled into a multidimensional hyperspace. Here the constants of nature could be different, and even the speed of light could be several times faster than we experience. If this happens, it would be possible to reach Mars in less than 3 hours and a star 11 light years away in only 80 days, Dröscher and Häuser say. ”
    The initial Droshcer HT theory was based on fermions. Fermions are particles llike electrons than can’t occupy the same state or space at the same time. There are particles like photons (light particles) that can occupy the same space or more accurately state simulataneouosly.
    Recent experiments by Tajmar et al seem to indicate a graviphotonic effect in superconduction electron cooper pairs which are bosons. The significantce of this is that the Heim antigravity coil may be achieved with lower strength magnets so an experimental test my well be within five years time.
    Best Wishes.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    As I said, there is no deatiled information in English. NS articles are popularizers; I cannot verify anything based on them.
    As far as I know, Tajmar has not performed any experiments. He has suggested experiments for others to perform. If you are aware his actual experimental papers please furnish them.

  12. Personally, I’m a big fan of the space elevator concept… Not in and of itself – I think there’ll always be a place for chemical boosters, among other technologies – but I certainly think it’s something worth exploring. It may not be as sexy as riding a column of fire to space, but if it lowers the cost of getting out of the gravity well, I’m all for it.

  13. D’oh! And what do I see 5 posts earlier? Yeah, count me as a huge fan of the beanstalk.

  14. Peter VE says:

    As I remember it, those mass drivers became nice big artillery for the moon colonists seeking independence. Control the high ground…

  15. zak822 says:

    As long as we’re going to play with some ideas, back in the middle seventies I wrote a paper for tech school about microwave relay satellites.
    Solar powered satellites that would convert the unfiltered sunlight in space into microwaves. Beam them to receivers on Earth to be convereted into electricty.
    How much oil would that save us? It was doable then, ought to be even easier now.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What you describe is a space-weapon.

  17. Fred says:

    Babak, you are right. Mass drivers and micro-waves both could be space based weapons. The questions are who has the launch capacity to put objects into orbit? Who is inspecting what is launched?

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, indeed the trend seems to be towards militarization of outer space.
    I do not believe it buy any one any more security but in this zero-sum game the players have to play since it is the only game in town.

  19. A mass driver is essentially a coilgun that magnetically accelerates a package consisting of a magnetisable holder containing a payload. Once the payload has been accelerated,

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