Space cannon to shoot payloads into orbit (w/ Video)
(PhysOrg.com) -- A physicist has proposed using a 1.1 km (3,600 ft) cannon to deliver cargo into orbit, and says the cost would be around $250 per pound, a massive saving on the $5,000 per pound ($2280 per kg) it currently costs to make deliveries using a rocket.
Hunter plans to test a 3 meter prototype in a water tank in February, and a full-size cannon could be built within seven years, if Quicklaunch can raise the required $500 million. While this is a sizeable upfront cost, the potential savings in the long term are substantial, because the cannon is reusable. Its use would significantly reduce the cost of keeping the International Space Station in orbit.
STEP 1: HEAT IT
The gun combusts natural gas in a heat exchanger within a
chamber of hydrogen gas, heating the hydrogen to 2,600˚F and causing a 500 percent increase in pressure. STEP 2: LET THE HYDROGEN LOOSE
Operators open the valve, and the hot, pressurized hydrogen quickly expands down the tube, pushing the payload forward. STEP 3: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
After speeding down the 3,300-foot-long barrel, the projectile shoots out of the gun at 13,000 mph. An iris at the end of the gun closes, capturing the hydrogen gas to use again.