The Launch Ring: A Magnetic Satellite Launch System
As part of a $500,000 Phase II contract awarded from the U.S. Department of Defense Small Business Technology Transfer Program, LaunchPoint engineers, under the direction of Jim Fiske, evaluated an innovative magnetically-levitated space launch system.
The Launch Ring, as it is called, would accelerate a small payload within a subsurface magnetic tube until it reached escape velocity. At that point, the payload capsule would exit the ring onto an elevated ramp and be launched into orbit. The results of LaunchPoint's R&D analyses suggest that a space launch system utilizing maglev technology could work very well, creating a more cost-effective means of launching small payloads into space.
The first magnetic launch systems are expected to propel payloads into orbit at a cost of roughly $750/lb, already a significant improvement over the current rocket-launched cost of around $4,000/lb. The total cost to orbit could eventually drop below $100/lb, making this technology vitally important to the future of space.
The concepts behind magnetic levitation have been known for more than a century. The technology, however, is still in its infancy. LaunchPoint continues to seek investors and strategic partners to take this technology to the next level.
- 2006 Applied Superconductivity Conference Paper: Analysis of Levitational Systems for a Superconducting Launch Ring
- 2006 International Space Development Conference Paper: The Launch Ring – Low Cost Launch for Space Exploitation
- 2006 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Paper: The Launch Ring – Circular EM Accelerators for Low Cost Orbital Launch