Heh, of course the reason I hadn't read this thread earlier is because I was too busy playing Kerbal Space Program...
I'm surprised nobody has linked to this page
yet, though. It lists several methods of getting to orbit, including a brief mention of a "Bifrost Bridge" -but from what I can tell
it appears to only be a laser-assisted
system, with some other method (mass driver?) imparting the initial velocity.
My personal favorite though is the Verne Gun
. Forget Space Elevators, this method gets more mass into orbit in single launch
than one of those gets up in a century!
Possibly more than has ever been sent to space before IN TOTAL.
The idea is pretty simple: detonate a nuke in a salt dome (as we have been doing for decades) to launch an Orion-like projectile directly into orbit. Of course you couldn't possibly launch anything as fragile as a human this way, but just imagine what NASA could do with 280,000,000 kg of bulk water, aluminum, rocket fuel, components, or whatever they want in orbit. "Hey guys, scratch the four-man Mars mission: let's go ahead and send forty
Most of the fallout is naturally contained by thousands of meters of earth, and I'm sure we could find a way to mitigate the rest. We get to put dangerous WMDs to productive use. And best of all, it's plausibly doable with modern
technology: unlike space elevators, we don't have to rely on some unknown supertensile material.
Although, honestly it's just one more example of what we could accomplish if we as a society could stop treating anything "nuclear" as if it were Unclean in the biblical sense...
gmalivuk wrote:Did you see the speed in m/s and think it meant mph?
Don't worry; didn't that happen to NASA once?