We already have the technology to send trains into space, at a fraction of the cost of rockets

This is Startram, a proposed launch system that would use magnetic levitation trains, a 1000-mile tunnel, and a superconducting cable to reach low Earth orbit. Amazingly, we already have the technology to do it...at far less than the cost of rockets.

Gizmag has a great overviewof how Startram would work, but the basic idea is simple enough. Because maglev trains hover above their tracks and thus don't have to worry about friction, they are theoretically capable of going far beyond their current mark of about 350 miles per hour to reach the 20,000 miles per hour needed for orbital velocities. Of course, to safely accelerate humans to those speeds, you'd need a lot of track, not to mention a way to keep a hypersonic train from being ripped to shreds by the air around it. According to its engineers, a vacuum tube that's 1,000 miles long and simulates the lower air pressure of the mesosphere should do the trick.

While most of the tube would be at sea level, the exit point would need to be about 12 miles high. The same magnetic levitation technology used in the trains could also be used to suspend the tunnel that high in the air, as Gizmag explains:

Read the rest here.

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The first comment on this story is worth reading. I also call shenanigans. I don't think they've thought their plan through.

very true .. now they should just make a movie or book on the idea

Today's maglev trains run horizontally and require little power. Going into orbit requires enough power to defeat gravity. Is maglev capable?

not sure

Actually we don't have the tech to do it.
The tech we "could do it with now" is still far too expensive and I'm not sure we have the engineering skills we need to make a stable 12 mile high structure. Remember that Everest is only 8 miles high, so construction of a 12 mile high structure would be a serious challenge, not to mention the cost of buying/stealing the land needed to build it.

Unless/until the cost of construction comes down enough to compete with rockets, there needs to be a compelling reason to get this level of stuff into space. Right now we basically only use space for communication. The military does some spying, and there's the international space station, but none of these things requires more supply than rockets can easily accommodate.

There's an idea... if this is feasible someday, wouldn't it be prudent to build it on a high mountain peak? I also am concerned about the structural integrity of the structure as depicted in the artwork above. I'd almost suggest a spiral/helix, though it would need a good sized diameter in order to keep sufficient speed.

As well, it might have less strain to have a low-orbiting station with a port that extends into the atmosphere for docking. Then it would be a matter of using high-flight planes to dock. Spacecraft would be dealt with wholly in space.

My quirky imagination just sprang forth with the idea of thist artist's rendition of the space train --t-shirt gun! Whee! Okay. Silliness aside, I'm wondering if the people for this project took into consideration the strain on the structure... It's not like it's made of transparent aluminum.

I read a scifi story once where they built one of these to the top of Everest.

Carbon nanotube structures are one of the ideas for making this or a space elevator feasible, but we don't know how to produce those cheaply in bulk or size yet.

Cool sci-fi book

There are a lot of questions for them to consider .. I agree there

Agreed ... good sci-fi book or movie though ... oh and it did make a very good picture

Ahhh… the Railgun.

Patent number1421435
Filing date: Apr 1, 1919
Issue date: Jul 4, 1922

Where this makes a lot more sense is; …on the Moon. A solar powered railgun for sending mined raw materials to Lagrange Points for processing into fuel, oxygen, building materials, etc.

…Unfortunately, it would also make a very potent WMD.

The fact it would make a great WMD means the research is probably going on now under DoD and DARPA funding. We seem to think science funding is great if we can use it to kill people but not to help people.

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