Skip to comments.A Cannon for Shooting Supplies into Space
Posted on 01/15/2010 3:00:45 PM PST by Reaganesque
John Hunter wants to shoot stuff into space with a 3,600-foot gun. And hes dead serioushes done the math. Making deliveries to an orbital outpost on a rocket costs $5,000 per pound, but using a space gun would cost just $250 per pound.
Building colossal guns has been Hunters pet project since 1992, when, while a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he first fired a 425-foot gun he built to test-launch hypersonic engines. Its methane-driven piston compressed hydrogen gas, which then expanded up the barrel to shoot a projectile. Mechanical firing can fail, however, so when Hunters company, Quicklaunch, released its plans last fall, it swapped the piston for a combustor that burns natural gas. Heat the hydrogen in a confined space and it should build up enough pressure to send a half-ton payload into the sky at 13,000 mph.
Hunter wants to operate the gun, the Quicklauncher, in the ocean near the equator, where the Earths fast rotation will help slingshot objects into space. A floating cannondipping 1,600 feet below sea level and steadied by a ballast systemwould let operators swivel it for different orbits. Next month, Hunter will test a functional, 10-foot prototype in a water tank. He says a full-size launcher could be ready in seven years, provided the company can round up the $500 million. Despite the upfront cost, Hunter says he has drawn interest from investors because his reusable gun saves so much cash in the long haul. Just dont ever expect a ride in the thing: The gun produces 5,000 Gs, so its only for fuel tanks and ruggedized satellites. A person shot out of it would probably get compressed to half their size, Hunter says. Itd be over real quick.
How to Shoot Stuff into Space
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.
Mother of All Spud Guns..
This makes me think of the book “The Moon is a Hash Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein but in reverse.
The ULTIMATE Polish Cannon [thats what we called them at Penn State] !!!
BTW: We used Sunoco 260 as propellant ...
Bombard Washington with high velocity potatoes.
Should be very practical for getting fuel, food, water, structural components, etc to orbit, and maybe a lot more. American Exceptionalism at work, no gov’t help needed, thank you very much!
Methinks any spuds fired through THAT will end up "mashed potatoes".
Son of a..... That's gonna leave a mark.
Gerald Vincent Bull (March 9, 1928 - March 22, 1990) was a Canadian engineer who developed long-range artillery. He moved from project to project in his quest to economically launch a satellite using a huge artillery piece, to which end he designed the Project Babylon “supergun” for the Iraqi government. According to Slate, Bull “is commonly understood to have been assassinated by the Mossad”, a killing which took place outside his apartment in Brussels, Belgium.
When it reaches orbit, a rocket engine firing would be required for it to match velocity with its destination. I don’t see that in the diagram.
Fire politicians into outer space.
Exactly how do you keep the recoil from sending that gun and it’s firing platform a mile deep in the ocean?
Check out the movie, "Super Gun", about Bull [Frank Langella] ...
Very instructive - he actually built a 1/20th scale prototype that fired a projectile that hit the target at like 125 miles ...
Full-scale gun was supposed to be able to hit Israel - but he never got that one built. Mossad got him first ...
5000 G’s. That would seem to me to limit the type of satellites that could be launched to very simple rugged orbs. Could work I suppose. OTOH, this would make a great weapon. Easy to launch the warhead from an ICBM.
This may stimulate some responses from people who KNOW, but I would guess that, just as if you hit the water after falling from an aircraft at 10,000 feet, the water would feel somewhat like concrete, I suspect a “10,000+ mph recoil would make the water act pretty much like a LOT of concrete. I noticed the fins in the picture.
“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” However, when the mass of one object being acted upon is significantly less than the other object being acted upon, the “equal and opposite” force has a greater effect on the smaller mass than the bigger. So, the bullet goes flying while the gun stays relatively motionless.
I am such a nerd.
Here’s an example: If you pick up a rock and you throw it, you are applying force to that rock. But, at the same time the rock is exerting that same amount of force against your hand.(the “equal and opposite” reaction) The reason it goes flying and you don’t is that your mass is way bigger than the rock.