Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

"Slingatron" To Hurl Payloads Into Orbit

samzenpus posted 1 year,22 hours | from the throwing-it-out-there dept.

Space 438

cylonlover writes "People have been shooting things into space since the 1940s, but in every case this has involved using rockets. This works, but it's incredibly expensive with the cheapest launch costs hovering around $2,000 per pound. This is in part because almost every bit of the rocket is either destroyed or rendered unusable once it has put the payload into orbit. Reusable launch vehicles like the SpaceX Grasshopper offer one way to bring costs down, but another approach is to dump the rockets altogether and hurl payloads into orbit. That's what HyperV Technologies Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia is hoping to achieve with a 'mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator' called the slingatron."

cancel ×

438 comments

HyperV? (5, Funny)

mingot (665080) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412123)

Are they virtualizing this?

Re:HyperV? (4, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412737)

Nobody uses HyperV for virtualization.

My oh my (5, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412129)

Be careful if you build one on the moon, though. Those people will get uppity and use it as high ground to gain independence from the democratically-elected governments of Earth.

Re:My oh my (5, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412161)

TANSTAAFL

Re:My oh my (3, Informative)

mrego (912393) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412653)

Some kind of Moon is a Harsh Mistress reference is needed here.

Re:My oh my (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412843)

No, TINSTAAFL. Speak properly, and sit up straight!

Re:My oh my (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412317)

What? Governments are democratically elected on Earth?

Re:My oh my (5, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412379)

Yup. In the West, they vote with dollars. The voter with the most dollars elects their own government.

Re:My oh my (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412881)

And that government in turn gives the people who elected it more dollars. It's led to an instability, I hope it doesn't lead to catastrophe.

--PM

Re:My oh my (1)

aliquis (678370) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412783)

Be careful if you build one on the moon, though. Those people will get uppity and use it as high ground to gain independence from the democratically-elected governments of Earth.

We can throw a bigger rock though!

Limited cargo use (4, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412143)

That sounds cool for launching tungsten balls into space, but probably wont work if you put any astronauts in it.

Re:Limited cargo use (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412159)

Which is great because space needs astronauts like a fish needs a bicycle.

Re: Limited cargo use (0)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412803)

I think the same could be said of tungsten balls... or anything from this planet. However, we do need astronauts in space, if we, as a pecies, ever expects to survive for an appreciable amount of time.

Re: Limited cargo use (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412859)

Right, we can all live on the surface of Venus.

Re:Limited cargo use (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412189)

That's my read. It's probably possible to make a rocket that can survive this treatment, but it isn't going to be easy!

Re:Limited cargo use (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412237)

Replying to my own post... I thought about it a bit more, and you could probably hurl raw materials or durable parts up to space with this and then use on-orbit lasers to correct its final orbit. At that point, you can scoop it up and put it where you need it.

Re:Limited cargo use (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412533)

From the article:

It’s questionable whether any rocket system could survive such stresses and there’s certainly no chance of a slingatron being used on a manned mission because it would turn an astronaut into astronaut pudding. Only the most solid state and hardened of satellites built along the lines of an electronic artillery shell fuse would have a chance of survival. The developers say that a larger slingatron would reduce the forces, but even with a reduction by a factor of 10,000, it would still be restricted to very robust cargoes. This makes it mainly attractive for raw materials, such as radiation shielding, fuel, water, and other raw materials.

Cargo is expensive (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412195)

Everything astronauts need is currently either on board or was put into orbit using expensive heavy lift rockets.

Imagine a low cost way of getting things into space, it would be an instant game changer.

Re:Cargo is expensive (1)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412291)

Lets say you make a spherical tank that holds oxygen and try sending to the ISS. You could fire it at a precise orbit to get near the space station, but unless the tank has some kind of maneuvering jets, you will need to chase it down and capture it. The tank most likely will be spinning rapidly and be a pain to capture.

Re:Cargo is expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412575)

Which is why the article said launched payloads would need a small rocket on board for orbital insertion.

Re:Cargo is expensive (5, Interesting)

nojayuk (567177) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412759)

A surprisingly large amount of stuff sent into low earth orbit and even geosynchronous orbit consists of fuel and oxidiser. The Shuttle launched with over 14 tonnes of manoeuvering fuel and oxidiser on board for the OMS and RCS motors. That's 14 tonnes that couldn't be dedicated to payload, food, water etc. Similarly a geosynchrononous satellite weighing 6 tonnes will be carrying two or three tones of fuel and oxidiser so it can maneuver into its final orbit and allow it to maintain station for a decade or more. Some GEO birds have been decommissioned when they nearly ran out of fuel, not because they broke down or became obsolete.

Using a slingshot or other brute-force technique to put tanks of fuel and oxidiser into orbit cheaply could well be worthwhile; robot tugs could collect them into a tank farm of some kind in a higher orbit and then deliver fuel and oxidiser to various vehicles as needed rather than them having to lift their entire fuel and oxidiser loads along with delicate electronics, structural components for Mars landers, fleshy meatbags etc.

Re:Cargo is expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412307)

Yes, this would be great for launching water and metal parts. Or components that can be submerged in the water and can take the G-forces.

You could send up lead shielding and other components for a Mars Mission using this tech for a lot less than it would cost to launch it.

Re:Cargo is expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412451)

Lead is normally lousy spacecraft radiation shielding material. (Shielding effectiveness per kilogram goes down with atomic mass number.) In this particular case, though, the initial drag will be extreme and drag losses will be reduced with a high density material. I haven't punched the numbers but I suspect the cost optimum is still much lower density: probably aluminium, steel, water, or even some type of plastic with lots of hydrogen in it.

Re:Cargo is expensive (5, Funny)

Jeremi (14640) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412621)

Unlimited pudding rations for all ISS crew members!

Re:Limited cargo use (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412215)

Oh it will work just fine, the astronauts won't like it though.

Re:Limited cargo use (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412247)

Yeah, but if you can put a cargo payload into space using this, you can make it much easier to put things into orbit.

For humans I think we'll be limited to rockets for a while. But if you can fire a small satellite into space like this, it might be easier.

Of course, you're also half way to a rail-gun type thing you can lob projectiles long distances.

Re:Limited cargo use (2)

codeButcher (223668) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412353)

Quoting from the Fine Article:

It’s questionable whether any rocket system could survive such stresses and there’s certainly no chance of a slingatron being used on a manned mission because it would turn an astronaut into astronaut pudding.

Re:Limited cargo use (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412667)

Astronaut pudding? My favorite!

If it's cheaper it's still good (5, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412439)

Just because you can't put astronauts or unhardened electronic/mechanical bits up with it doesn't really reduce it's value.

If it can reduce launch costs for the stuff it can launch to around $100/pound vs $2k, it changes the dynamics even if it's just launching oxygen, water, and such to the station.

"One true solution" arguments (it doesn't replace every use so it's useless!) don't help solve problems.

Re:If it's cheaper it's still good (5, Insightful)

mmcxii (1707574) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412567)

"One true solution" arguments (it doesn't replace every use so it's useless!) don't help solve problems.

True but pointing out how a solution doesn't solve every aspect of every problem is what gets a post modded up around here. This reinforcement of short-sightedness keeps rearing it's ugly head with nearly every article. Thus even people who know better are still prone to postings such as this just because they know it'll be modded up. The cycle continues and we help to breed a new generation of cynics who don't think that things getting a little better today is a worthwhile goal if it's not the future promised to them by the most optimistic sci-fi stories.

Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:If it's cheaper it's still good (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412837)

Payload on a ballistic arc is worthless (**) unless you can do a subsequent burn at apogee to raise the perigee above the atmosphere. They are unlikely to be able to build a rocket that is hardened enough to survive launch, but is large enough and has enough thrust to raise perigee before it and the payload reenter and burn up.

(** Outside of lobbing nukes at people.)

That said, this might be more useful on a low-gravity, atmosphere-free body like the moon, where you can build the spinner much larger, and launch at a much more horizontal trajectory (improving efficiency, and making interception easier, via an orbital tether). So as long as these guys aren't wasting my money, I'm happy for them to waste their own time and money to develop and prove version 0.01a of the technology.

Re:Limited cargo use (1)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412503)

It would work great if you need Astronaut Paste. The G Forces to fire a projectile into space would be incredible.
Most stuff we would shoot up would probably be crushed or unusable.

Re:Limited cargo use (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412631)

How about use it as a burial device. Some people would likely pay huge amounts for a space burial.

Re:Limited cargo use (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412821)

Minor problem with all of this, the atmosphere.

I'll save you some reading (4, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412149)

It's a Kickstarter campaign.

Re:I'll save you some reading (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412497)

disappointingly, none of the pledge levels allow you to put forward a projectile and a target.

Re:I'll save you some reading (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412517)

A kickstarter for a version that'll launch 1lb loads up to a small portion of the speed of sound. You're not getting anything in to orbit on the back of this, just helping this guy make a marginally more convincing case to bigger funding agencies. Although if the physics and engineering made sense, I'm not sure why a marginally larger prototype than the ones they already have is needed.

Wonder if it can be weaponized. (4, Insightful)

ron_ivi (607351) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412153)

Anything that can launch stuff into orbit can probably also be tweaked to drop stuff literally anywhere in the world.

Wonder if this'll turn into the poor-man's ICBM -- where you target a house of an enemy with google maps; and drop rocks on it with this 15,600 mph slingshot.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412309)

Anything that can launch stuff into orbit can probably also be tweaked to drop stuff literally anywhere in the world.

I don't think there's any probably to it ... if you can get something into space, you can get it pretty much anywhere you like if you can figure out the flight mechanics of it. Which is why when people do any rocket testing, people are paying close attention since a rocket and an ICBM are pretty similar -- if you can do one you can do the other.

At those speeds, even a few kilos of mass is going to hit anything with some pretty serious force.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (2)

Rich0 (548339) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412819)

The mechanics are a solved problem. Large artillery pieces already need to correct for the rotation of the earth, and all artillery needs to correct for atmospheric conditions that vary with altitude. This device would just need to correct for a lot more of it.

This is just a really big howitzer, and behaves exactly the same as one from a ballistics perspective.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412351)

The idea for a "space gun" has been around for over 40 years now. My dad ran the calculations on it once, and it is at least an order of magnitude cheaper than any rocket based solution at our disposal.

Yes, the launcher can be modified to launch stuff anywhere in the world. Guess what? EVERY SINGLE space vehicle can be launched ANYWHERE in the world. We've refrained from stuffing nukes into the space shuttle so far, so the track record is good.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412361)

any failure during launch and it becomes a weapon. hope they put in crater to keep neighbors out of harms way

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412501)

hope they put in crater to keep neighbors out of harms way

What is 'out of harms way' for something which can put an object into space with a purely ballistic trajectory?

My understanding is you could fling objects half-way around the world quite readily with something like this.

Putting it into a hole limits the flight angles so it has to go more up, but something coming out at those speeds is going to make a hell of a mess of anything it hits.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412415)

"Intercontinental Ballistic Artillery." Sounds kinda retro.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412681)

"Intercontinental Ballistic Catapults" even more so.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (1)

Shoten (260439) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412483)

If so, it'd be the first time that anyone on Kickstarter found their life endangered based on being successful. Google "Gerald Bull," for an example of how far it can go.

Re:Wonder if it can be weaponized. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412673)

I don't think it's going to be a poor-man's anything. Their video says the full-scale orbital version would have a diameter of 300 meters, and their demo units are all solid chunks of metal. So their goal is wiggle several stadiums at 60Hz. Tesla, eat your heart out.

railgun? (1)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412175)

Any chance of getting a gigantic railgun anytime soon? As cool as this coiled object-chucker is, a railgun seems easier to aim.

Hmmm ... (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412183)

So we're going with the Wile E Coyote school of engineering then?

Awesome!!

Might be sure your payload doesn't get any sudden G-forces it's not built for, but it sounds interesting.

Re: Hmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412235)

Assuming this thing launches from the ground I have to wonder what they plan to launch?

The g-force from this launch obviously would rule out humans, but wouldn't that kind of force wreak havok on any sensitive scientific equipment?

Re: Hmmm ... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412299)

They specifically say it isn't for delicate things. The concept they're using is putting bulk building materials in space cheaply and saving the 'delicate' stuff like people for the expensive and less taxing delivery of rockets.

As has been noted, weaponizing seems the first likely destination.

Re: Hmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412637)

No, scamming investors is the first likely 'destination'.

Re: Hmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412491)

couldn't they lower the g-forces by just making it longer, and then it would open it up to other types of cargo?

Smells like bullshit (1, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412211)

It is a lot more complicated than a railgun or coilgun, suffers from erosion issues nonetheless, so what is the advantage? That it sounds like something out of a Dilbert story?

Re:Smells like bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412335)

yeah I'd love to know how they will shield the electronics on board the payload for the magnetic field...

Re:Smells like bullshit (1)

leonardluen (211265) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412505)

yeah because they never get exposed to a lot of EM radiation while in space do they?

Re:Smells like bullshit (1)

RoccamOccam (953524) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412679)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this scheme doesn't appear to use magnetic acceleration like a railgun (perhaps that is the differentiator). It uses a pure mechanical effect.

Mass Drivers as Alternatives? (3, Interesting)

fuzzybunny (112938) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412227)

Out of curiosity, why aren't mass drivers feasible for this sort of thing? You could build one up a mountainside near the equator - something like Mt. Chimborazo (6200+ meters) and drastically reduce the amount of fuel needed to get anything into space. By making the thing several kilometers long, you'd also massively lower the material strains on any craft (you probably still couldn't send humans up, but you'd have far less limits on how sensitive your cargo could be.)

The slingshot sounds like an extremely limited tool - you'd still need a high degree of complexity for things like guidance systems and engines, because of drag you probably couldn't launch anything right into space without at least a partial boost. A mass driver would only get your cargo up to equivalent speeds once it got to the "muzzle", which would ideally be located at very high altitudes with thin air...

Re:Mass Drivers as Alternatives? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412693)

I Guarantee that it will technically not be a slingshot. They are probably talking about some mass driver type of thing. I am sure that whatever it is, it would have a long long mussel.

Re:Mass Drivers as Alternatives? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412841)

Well, for 2 reasons – and the reasons apply to all space guns – including mass drivers and Slingatron.

I am not a physicist, but I have been told that the orbital path for any projectile fired from a space gun will pass though earth – which is a fail. So you still need rockets in space to get to a viable orbit, and rockets are fragile things.

The applied engineering is thin on the ground and the upfront costs are massive. There is a large gap between theatrically possible verse practical applications.

I am not sure if the Slingatron is less complex then a mass driver. You do point out some good issues – but it has the virtue of being smaller and less expensive to build. There are a lot of unknown unknowns which would be easier to correct in something like this.

Orbital speed from the surface? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412255)

They want to throw payloads through the entire atmosphere at 6-7km/sec.? Is the payload mass going to be mostly heatshield?

Re:Orbital speed from the surface? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412321)

Certainly a constraint, but one key difference. It gets less resistive as you go, the opposite of coming in. At 6 kilometers/sec, you're out of the really dense atmosphere pretty quickly.

Re:Orbital speed from the surface? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412871)

Certainly a constraint, but one key difference. It gets less resistive as you go, the opposite of coming in. At 6 kilometers/sec, you're out of the really dense atmosphere pretty quickly.

That is true, but in general you'd need a much larger heat shield for this than you'd ever need for re-entry of an equivalent payload. With re-entry the highest speed is at the lowest air density. With a mass driver the highest speed is at the highest air density.

Sure, you'll get through it quickly, but that just means that the amount of power being dissipated as heat is astronomical.

I'd think the G forces from atmospheric drag would be incredible as well for the first few seconds.

escape velocity (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412259)

What is escape velocity again? 25,000 mph?

There are cheaper ways. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412269)

How is this an improvement over the Babylon Gun? More moving parts, more breakage, more complicated. Give me a hydrogen-powered intercontinental artillery piece any day.

Can we get Mossad to kill the company's CEO (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412279)

Like they killed the last guy to attempt this sort of thing using a big ass gun.

A series of tubes?! (0)

zmooc (33175) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412287)

Inside the slingatron is a spiral tube, or a series of connected spiral tubes, depending on the design, that gyrates on a series of flywheels spread along its length.

That sounds a lot like a spiral version of the Interwebs! It's only a matter of time before Mr. Ted Stevens sues for infringement!

Friction (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412293)

When the projectile is moving at about 7,000 miles per second.. is it not going to heat up and vaporise when it encounters friction from the atmosphere and the slingatron? How hot will it get, and if the contour changes are irregular, will the projectile not deviate off its expected path? I think it makes more sense to build a super gun on Mount Everest, or use a stratospheric aircraft to provide a lifting platform to get a rocket out of dense atmosphere.

Re:Friction (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412477)

When the projectile is moving at about 7,000 miles per second.. is it not going to heat up and vaporise when it encounters friction from the atmosphere and the slingatron? How hot will it get, and if the contour changes are irregular, will the projectile not deviate off its expected path? I think it makes more sense to build a super gun on Mount Everest, or use a stratospheric aircraft to provide a lifting platform to get a rocket out of dense atmosphere.

[Emphasis Added]

.037c? That seems rather excessive when trying to get to LEO. Then again, it will get you to the moon in 34 seconds and to Mars in less than six hours -- assuming you don't want to stop and look around -- then you'll need to decelerate.

I assume you mean 7 miles per second (escape velocity on a body the size of the earth is ~25,000 miles/hour) or are in a *really* big hurry.

Re:Friction (1)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412565)

At 7000 miles per second (11,000 km / sec, or 4% of the speed of light), you would expect a strong emission of 1 MeV gamma rays and an energy release in the megaton range for a 100 kg payload; basically you would have created the kinetic equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

At 7000 miles _per hour_, not so much. Project HARP [wikipedia.org] fired 8000 miles per hour payloads in the 1960's.

So they want to build a Lofstrom Loop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412305)

I guess the existing name "Lofstrom Loop [wikipedia.org] " wasn't hip enough.

Already Invented (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412337)

So ... basically a complicated railgun with lots of moving parts

60,000Gs ? (0)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412373)

Here is a list of all the things that can take a short (but not instant) 60,000 Gs:
...
...
...
I've got nothing.

I'm now trying to think of how to build something that can take 60,000Gs:
...
...
...
I've still got nothing.

Re:60,000Gs ? (2)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412425)

you might be interested to know 120mm tank round electronics do indeed take about 60,000 g of accleration, a 40mm over 100,000g

solved problem

Re:60,000Gs ? (4, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412443)

did you even look? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_(acceleration) [wikipedia.org] its basicly the sort of acceleration a bullet undergoes, and artillery shells exist with electronics in them that are designed to survive launch.

Re:60,000Gs ? (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412785)

Warheads of various kinds.

What? You thought there was some non-military use for this?

To paraphrase Monty Python about Camelot (2)

XB-70 (812342) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412377)

" 'tis a silly thing."

I love Google autocaptions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412381)

Check out google autocaption at 1:20. Classic.

Air Friction & Atmorphere (2, Interesting)

bradgoodman (964302) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412387)

They're going to launch it from the surface at orbital velocity? It would burn up from the air friction inside the Slingitron itself before hitting orbital velocity. If it didn't (i.e. it was a vacuum inside the Slingitron) - it would as soon as it hit the outside air. Meteorites and returning spacecraft do this (in the opposite direction) when the reenter the Earth's atmosphere. Watch how much the atmosphere slows them down (and burns them up). Why wouldn't this happen from a Slingitron launch? This issue was never even addressed in the video.

Re:Air Friction & Atmorphere (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412731)

Perhaps they could coat the payload with an ablative heat shield? And presumably they would build the thing at high altitude to avoid the "thick" air below. Nevertheless, you're right that they'd have an "uphill battle" to reach orbit this way.

Very skeptical (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412417)

Ill wait and see how well it works in kerbal space program before buying into it.

xkcd seems rather relevant (0)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412427)

The xkcd for today seems rather relevant heh http://xkcd.com/ [xkcd.com]

Cannon (2)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412431)

There have been experiments to shoot things into space using cannon (for research) since at least Project Harp [wikipedia.org] of the 1960's. They tended to have funding problems, leading Gerald Bull [wikipedia.org] (their chief proponent) to accept money from Saddam Hussein to build a supergun using the same technology, which lead to his assassination.

Wernher von Braun never had these problems...

Re:Cannon (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412779)

leading Gerald Bull [wikipedia.org] (their chief proponent) to accept money from Saddam Hussein to build a supergun using the same technology, which lead to his assassination.

Led. The past tense of 'lead' is 'led.'

Checking calendar... (2)

Sez Zero (586611) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412447)

Is it April 1 already?

Aaaaaaaaand, of course it is a Kickstarter.

Have they studied physics? (4, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412453)

Have they actually studied physics? This project is so bogus on multiple levels:
1) It's much easier to use a linear accelerator. It won't have to deal with tremendous loads from centrifugal forces, for one thing.
2) Acceleration will be murderous for anything that's not a solid material.
3) And finally, it still won't work even if a payload is accelerated to orbital speed. That's because the payload would re-enter the atmosphere and return to the point where it left the accelerator at the end of its first orbit - that's simple freaking orbital mechanics. And you need quite a bit of delta-v to lift the perigee high enough to avoid it, which requires a rocket with an engine, see 2) why it's not feasible.

Re:Have they studied physics? (2)

Deadstick (535032) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412603)

3) And finally, it still won't work even if a payload is accelerated to orbital speed. That's because the payload would re-enter the atmosphere and return to the point where it left the accelerator at the end of its first orbit - that's simple freaking orbital mechanics.

TFA points out that it will have to have an orbital insertion motor on board.

Re:Have they studied physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412661)

At least for point 2, there are already electronics and devices that can survive the acceleration in artillery shells. This issue was addressed decades ago, when previously considering cannon based launches. And point 3 is already considered by them... so the charge they haven't studied any of the issues, let alone physics, is pretty bogus.

Punkin Chunkin (3, Funny)

kmahan (80459) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412457)

Wonder how far it can throw a pumpkin?

http://www.punkinchunkin.com/ [punkinchunkin.com]

Re:Punkin Chunkin (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412655)

You'd probably liquefy the pumpkin before it got airborne.

You're gonna need something fairly rugged to get launched out of this thing.

That being said, I really really want to see video of things like pumpkins being fired out of this ... that would be awesome ... the pumpkin rail gun. ;-)

Analogies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412481)

the slingatron replaces rockets with a more sophisticated version of the sling famed in the story of David and Goliath

Really? David and Goliath is your go-to analogy? Oh wait... written by: David Szondy .

Doug Stanhope: "... the Jews have a tendency to throw their Judaism into whatever conversation you're having..."

Re:Analogies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412735)

Why not fire payloads into space with a big gun? Like Gerald Bull was working on.

Oh darn. There's that Jewish angle again.

Up but not down (1)

axehind (518047) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412523)

They keep trying to find ways to get stuff up there but not as much work is being put into how to get all the crap up there back down again....

Re:Up but not down (1)

Jeremi (14640) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412701)

They keep trying to find ways to get stuff up there but not as much work is being put into how to get all the crap up there back down again....

What, gravity isn't good enough for you?

See? Pumpkin chuckin' is useful. (3, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412527)

How many people laughed at all the rednecks creating weird contraptions to hurl pumpkins down a harvested field in Discovery channel? Now who is laughing, eh? When space travel is commercialized and you are crammed into the economy class seat of the commuter plane to mars, you may have to thank Bill "1 gallon" Schwarzenhammer, winner of Pumkin Chunkin 2021, who was the first one to hurl a pumpkin all the way to Moon, more known for his ability to gulp down 1 gallon of beer without pausing for breath.

I see an obvious problem with this concept: heat (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412529)

The payload heats up quite a bit through friction - and then ends up in space, where basically the only way of getting rid of excess heat is radiating it away (slowly).

This is quite unlike atmospheric braking and descent, where the heat can easily be dissipated by convection once the payload has slowed down enough.

Re:I see an obvious problem with this concept: hea (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412747)

And since the vacuum insulated the heat, it matter a whole lot less. Who cares if something is hot, if the only possible way it could be bad is if an astronaut took off his suit in space and then touched it.

How is this heat issue any different than with normal rocket ships.

Riiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44412555)

Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a wagon.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44412753)

This thing basically boils down to a mass driver with a curved track. Why would this be better than a traditional and straight mass driver? Every half circle basically reverses the payloads velocity, which is an immense waste of energy and also much more g-forces than otherwise needed.

This thing seems to have all of the downside of a mass driver and then some, while offering no benefits other than saving some real-estate.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...