Railgun Reaches World Record of 33 megajoules – Off-World Applications? (with Video)

By Keith Cowing
December 12, 2010
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“The Office of Naval Research Electromagnetic Railgun located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, fired a world-record setting 33 megajoule shot, breaking the previous record established January, 31, 2008.”

Railguns have also been proposed as a means whereby small satellites could be launched into Earth orbit. They have also been suggested as a means whereby fuel and resources could be launched off of the lunar surface – a process made easier than it would be on Earth by virtue of lower gravity and lack of an atmosphere on the Moon.

“A mass driver or electromagnetic catapult is a proposed method of non-rocket spacelaunch which would use a linear motor to accelerate and catapult payloads up to high speeds. All existing and contemplated mass drivers use coils of wire energized by electricity to make electromagnets. Sequential firing of a row of electromagnets accelerates the payload along a path. After leaving the path, the payload continues to move due to inertia. 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, the two separate, and the holder is slowed and recycled for another payload. Mass drivers can be used to propel spacecraft in two different ways: A large, ground-based mass driver could be used to launch spacecraft away from the Earth or another planet. A spacecraft could have a mass driver on board, flinging large pieces of material into space to propel itself. A hybrid design is also possible (see coilgun, railgun, or helical railgun).”Mass driver, Wikipedia

See also Railgun, Wikipedia

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