$250,000 Slingatron Kickstarter

The Slingatron is a mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator that has the potential to dramatically increase flight opportunities and reduce the cost of launching payloads into earth orbit, thus helping to make humanity a truly spacefaring species. The Slingatron technology can be incrementally grown in performance and size to ultimately launch payloads into orbit. Our Kickstarter project goal is to build and demonstrate a modular Slingatron 5 times larger in diameter than the previous existing Mark 2 prototype. It will be used to launch in our laboratory a 1/4 pound payload to 1 kilometer/sec. That is about 2,237 mph! If launched straight up at that speed, a payload would reach an altitude of about 51 km, neglecting air resistance. This Kickstarter project is an important next step in the development of the Slingatron because it will provide vital technical information, practical experience, and cost data on what will be required to build a full-scale Slingatron orbital launch system in the future.

The Slingatron does not replace rockets. It complements rockets, freeing them to launch what they launch best. Slingatron is best suited to launch bulk materials such as water, fuel, building materials, radiation shielding, g-load-hardened satellites, etc. into orbit. It cannot launch people or very delicate equipment due to high acceleration (g) loads experienced during the launch cycle. However, bulk materials will account for the majority of mass launched into orbit if we are ever going to establish a major presence in space, whether those materials are launched from the Earth or from the Moon.

Hyperv Technologies is also working on a version of nuclear fusion and minirailguns

Here is a 3 page paper on an orbital launch slingatron

Nextbigfuture had coverage of small scale army funding of the potential of Slingatrons back in 2006

An artist’s concept for a full scale Slingatron space launcher about 200-300 meters in diameter. The spiral track is mounted on support pylons which contain drive motors and counterweight flywheels. Payload assemblies are prepared for launch nearby.

In preparation for payload launch, the Slingatron is gradually gyrated up to approximately 40-60 cycles per second. Once the Slingatron track is cycling at launch speed, the payload module is released into the entrance of the track near the center of the rapidly gyrating spiral track. Once within the track, the payload module accelerates and quickly becomes phase-locked with the gyrating action of the entire platform as a result of the tremendous acceleration. The strong centrifugal force causes the payload module to continue accelerating throughout the spiral track. From the perspective of the payload module, it appears to be constantly sliding down a steep incline under a very high “gravitational force”, which is actually due to the centripetal acceleration. At high speed, the payload slides on a “plasma bearing” film that forms between the bottom of the payload and the surface of the steel track. This plasma bearing provides a very low coefficient of friction cushion which allows the rapid acceleration. When the payload reaches its launch velocity of about 7 km/sec in the last spiral turn, it then launches through a track angled up a hill or other structure to direct it into space.

The spiral track inside the Mark II Slingatron. The bearing supports at the four corners attach to the gyrating flywheel assemblies. This spiral steel track mimics Case B above.

How will a Slingatron launch payloads into orbit?

Here is a conceptual overview of how a Slingatron would launch payloads into orbit:

* Satellites or a bulk cargo container are attached to a kick motor upperstage forming a payload module. The payload modules are then loaded into the launch rack at the center of the Slingatron spiral track.
* The Slingatron is gradually spun-up to a typical gyration speed of approximately 60 cycles per second. This is done over a period of minutes to ensure that all parts of the track are gyrating smoothly in phase.
* At the specified launch time, a Payload Module is released into the Slingatron spiral.
* The centripetal force from the gyrating Slingatron moves the payload module forward into the Slingatron track.
* The Payload Module rapidly accelerates under the tremendous centripetal force as it travels outward in the ever-expanding spiral track.
* The Payload Module exits the Slingatron at a velocity of about 4.3 miles/second(7 kilometers/second).
* The long thin Payload Module has an ablative nosecone which prevents thermal damage to the Payload Module during its brief (few seconds) flight through the dense layers of earth’s atmosphere.
* The Payload Module loses some velocity due to atmospheric drag. This is small compared to its overall launch velocity.
* The rocket motor upperstage on the Payload Module is fired near apogee (highest part of the parabola) to make up the velocity lost from atmospheric drag and to alter its trajectory into a circular orbit around the earth.
* Payload Modules that are not free flying satellites are then captured in orbit by a robotic space tug and delivered to a central Payload Depot.

What are the disadvantages of a Slingatron orbital launch system?

* High peak g-loads of up to 40-60,000 g’s during launch limits the type and complexity of payloads that can be launched. Allowing larger diameter Slingatrons, however, can reduce these g-loads in direct proportion to the increase in diameter.

* Special g-hardened satellites will need to be developed for those applications requiring specialized satellite functionality.

* Non-satellite bulk payloads will most likely require orbital capture by a space tug and further processing at a supply depot on-orbit. The cost of these systems must be factored into the overall infrastructure cost of a large-scale orbital Slingatron launch system. These systems will presumably be reusable and enabled by the lower Slingatron launch costs.

* To reduce drag and heating during launch and the brief atmospheric transit, payload modules must be designed to be long and relatively small in diameter thin.

Technical Objectives for Slingatron Kickstarter?

Our technical objectives for this Slingatron Kickstarter development project are to meet or exceed the following performance goals.

1) We will design, construct, and test a Slingatron with a diameter of about 5 meters and capable of accelerating one pound payloads to 1 km/sec. We will need to achieve 40-60 cycles per second gyration frequency to accomplish this. We will only work with ¼ lb payloads during the basic Kickstarter project and for the demo event, but we will design and build the Slingatron so that later we can safely test launch one pound payloads. During these laboratory and demo tests, the payload will be captured in a tank.

2) We will design the 5-meter Slingatron as the core module of an expandable system to which additional modules can be added later to extend the performance to 2 km/sec or higher. This allows the investment in hardware provided by this Kickstarter project to leverage the construction of higher performance machines without having to start from scratch.

The 5 meter diameter Kickstarter Slingatron will demonstrate launch of up to 1 lb test payloads at 1 km/sec. This is a fully modular approach, which can be further expanded to much larger systems.

The 5 meter diameter Kickstarter Slingatron will demonstrate launch of up to 1 lb test payloads at 1 km/sec. This is a fully modular approach, which can be further expanded to much larger systems.

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