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MagLev Rail Launch Assist

Oct 21, 2019
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MagLev Rail Launch Assist

Climbing out of the Earth’s gravity well requires a great deal of energy. One way to reduce the amount of fuel required would be to use a MagLev rail for the initial acceleration. The advantage of MagLev is that there is no friction, meaning that 100% of the acceleration energy would be transferred to the spacecraft. Since the MagLev rail is powered by electricity, it is possible to release a great deal of energy over a short period of time, but accumulate that energy over a much longer period of time, even from solar panels.
There is a limit to the velocity that can be imparted to the spacecraft, and that is dependent upon two things.
The first is MaxQ. The second is altitude, which is one of the factors in MaxQ.
Therefore, a MagLev rail launch up the side of a tall mountain provides the maximum use of a MagLev system.
I compiled a list of the tallest mountains that can be used. Surprisingly, there are quite a few, providing many differentlaunch attitudes and orbital insertions.

Peak Location Feet Meters
1. Mount Everest Nepal 29,035 ft. 8,850 m.
2. K2 Pakistan/China 28,250 ft. 8,611 m.
3. Kangchenjunga Nepal/India 28,169 ft. 8,586 m.
4. Lhotse Nepal 27,940 ft. 8,516 m.
5. Makalu Nepal 27,765 ft. 8,462 m.
6. Cho Oyu Nepal 26,906 ft. 8,201 m.
7. Dhaulagiri Nepal 26,794 ft. 8,167 m.
8. Manaslu Nepal 26,758 ft. 8,156 m.
9. Nanga Parbat Pakistan 26,658 ft. 8,125 m.
10. Annapurna Nepal 26,545 ft. 8,091 m.
11. Gasherbrum I Pakistan/China 26,470 ft. 8,068 m.
12. Broad Peak Pakistan/China 26,400 ft. 8,047 m.
13. Gasherbrum II Pakistan/China 26,360 ft. 8,035 m.
14. Shisha Pangma Nepal/Tibet 26,289 ft. 8,013 m.

Peak Continent Feet Meters
1. Mount Everest Asia 29,035 ft. 8,850 m.
2. Aconcagua South America 22,841 ft. 6,962 m.
3. Mount McKinley North America 20,320 ft. 6,194 m.
4. Mount Kilimanjaro Africa 19,563 ft. 5,963 m.
5. Mount Elbrus Europe 18,481 ft. 5,633 m.
6. Puncak Jaya Australia/Oceania 16,502 ft. 5,030 m.
7. Vinson Massif Antarctica 16,066 ft. 4,897 m.

Canadian Peaks
Peak Feet Meters
1. Mount Logan 19,551 ft. 5,959 m.
2. Mount St. Elias 18,009 ft. 5,489 m.
3. Mount Lucania 17,147 ft. 5,226 m.
4. Mount King 16,973 ft. 5,173 m.
5. Mount Steele 16,645 ft. 5,073 m.
6. Atlantic Peak 16,008 ft. 4,879 m.
7. Wood Peak 15,887 ft. 4,842 m.
8. Mount Vancouver 15,788 ft. 4,812 m.
9. Wood NW 15,742 ft. 4,798 m.
10. Mount Slaggard 15,559 ft. 4,742 m.
11. MacAulay Peak 15,388 ft. 4,690 m.
12. Fairweather Peak 15,299 ft. 4,663 m.
13. Hubbard Peak 15,017 ft. 4,577 m.

Colorado Fourteeners
Peak Feet Meters
1. Mount Elbert 14,433 ft. 4,399 m.
2. Mount Massive 14,421 ft. 4,396 m.
3. Mount Harvard 14,420 ft. 4,395 m.
4. Blanca Peak 14,345 ft. 4,372 m.
5. La Plata Peak 14,336 ft. 4,370 m.
6. Uncompahgre Peak 14,309 ft. 4,361 m.
7. Crestone Peak 14,294 ft. 4,357 m.
8. Mount Lincoln 14,286 ft. 4,354 m.
9. Grays Peak 14,270 ft. 4,350 m.
10. Mount Antero 14,269 ft. 4,349 m.
11. Torreys Peak 14,267 ft. 4,349 m.
12. Castle Peak 14,265 ft. 4,348 m.
13. Quandary Peak 14,265 ft. 4,348 m.
14. Mount Evans 14,264 ft. 4,348 m.
15. Longs Peak 14,255 ft. 4,345 m.
16. Mount Wilson 14,246 ft. 4,342 m.
17. Mount Shavano 14,229 ft. 4,337 m.
18. Mount Princeton 14,197 ft. 4,327 m.
19. Mount Belford 14,197 ft. 4,327 m.
20. Crestone Needle 14,197 ft. 4,327 m.
21. Mount Yale 14,196 ft. 4,327 m.
22. Mount Bross 14,172 ft. 4,320 m.
23. Kit Carson Peak 14,165 ft. 4,318 m.
24. El Diente Peak 14,159 ft. 4,316 m.
25. Maroon Peak 14,156 ft. 4,315 m.
26. Tabeguache Mountain 14,155 ft. 4,314 m.
27. Mount Oxford 14,153 ft. 4,314 m.
28. Mount Sneffels 14,150 ft. 4,313 m.
29. Mount Democrat 14,148 ft. 4,312 m.
30. Capitol Peak 14,130 ft. 4,307 m.
31. Pikes Peak 14,109 ft. 4,300 m.
32. Snowmass Mountain 14,092 ft. 4,295 m.
33. Mount Eolus 14,083 ft. 4,293 m.
34. Windom Peak 14,082 ft. 4,292 m.
35. Mount Columbia 14,073 ft. 4,290 m.
36. Missouri Mountain 14,067 ft. 4,288 m.
37. Humboldt Peak 14,064 ft. 4,287 m.
38. Mount Bierstadt 14,060 ft. 4,286 m.
39. Sunlight Peak 14,059 ft. 4,285 m.
40. Handies Peak 14,048 ft. 4,282 m.
41. Culebra Peak 14,047 ft. 4,282 m.
42. Mount Lindsey 14,042 ft. 4,280 m.
43. Ellingwood Peak 14,042 ft. 4,280 m.
44. Little Bear Peak 14,037 ft. 4,279 m.
45. Mount Sherman 14,036 ft. 4,278 m.
46. Redcloud Peak 14,034 ft. 4,278 m.
47. Pyramid Peak 14,018 ft. 4,273 m.
48. Wilson Peak 14,017 ft. 4,272 m.
49. Wetterhorn Peak 14,015 ft. 4,272 m.
50. North Maroon Peak 14,014 ft. 4,272 m.
51. San Luis Peak 14,014 ft. 4,272 m.
52. Mount of the Holy Cross 14,005 ft. 4,269 m.
53. Huron Peak 14,003 ft. 4,268 m.
54. Sunshine Peak 14,001 ft. 4,268 m.

California Fourteeners
Peak Feet Meters
1. Mount Whitney 14,491 ft. 4,417 m.
2. Mount Williamson 14,370 ft. 4,380 m.
3. White Mountain 14,246 ft. 4,342 m.
4. North Palisade 14,242 ft. 4,341 m.
5. Polemonium Peak 14,200 ft. 4,328 m.
6. Starlight Peak 14,200 ft. 4,328 m.
7. Mount Shasta 14,162 ft. 4,317 m.
8. Mount Sill 14,153 ft. 4,314 m.
9. Mount Russell 14,086 ft. 4,293 m.
10. Split Mountain 14,058 ft. 4,285 m.
11. Middle Palisade 14,040 ft. 4,279 m.
12. Mount Langley 14,026 ft. 4,275 m.
13. Mount Tyndall 14,019 ft. 4,273 m.
14. Mount Muir 14,015 ft. 4,272 m.
15. Thunderbolt Peak 14,000 ft. 4,267 m.
 
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Reactions: MMohammed
Nov 16, 2019
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This is very interesting and something I was researching a little previously... most arrows pointed to existing StarTram concept. Noting what I was reading about is not just for assist but direct to space transport. But you need a crazy long track to reduce g-forces enough for human transport directly to space. Less so for cargo transport obviously. But the design is incredible in it's reuse capability, cost effectiveness (after construction), and environmentally friendly. Would be really cool to see someone built a minimal version for small cargo transport first as a POC.
 
Oct 21, 2019
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It would be difficult, if not impossible, to construct a spacecraft that would be able to withstand Max Q created by a rail launch directly to LEO. In order to result in the orbital velocity of 17,448 mph, the velocity at the end of the rail at release would have to be somewhere around 21,000mph, about Mach 27. In comparison, the top speed of the SR 71 Blackbird was Mach 3.5 (2685mph). Due to Max Q, the Space Shuttle is only going 1636 mph at 35,000 ft when they go to Throttle Up.
 
Nov 16, 2019
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No need to assume LEO, in fact I agree that would be less feasible... so the uses would be for non LEO. Moon, Mars, deep space, etc.
 
Oct 21, 2019
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No need to assume LEO, in fact I agree that would be less feasible... so the uses would be for non LEO. Moon, Mars, deep space, etc.
The velocity for that is much greater, 25,020mph, meaning the velocity at the end of the rail at release would have to be somewhere around 26,000mph, about Mach 34 . That would be impossible.
 

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