Our journey to the Stars, train Style.
Have you ever woken up early in the morning to hear the sounds of loud horns of trains in the distance?
A simple memory that replays over and over in your head as you hear it almost every single day.
It's such a normal concept, a train.
We see them everywhere, from public transportation trains,to underground trains, to ones that you have to wait at the stoplight for as they speed rapidly across the track.
Now picture this train but in a way you could never imagine, something so normal becoming so abnormal. This is what designers did when they created the concept for the Startram.
What is the Startram?
Startram is a maglev space “train” that will be contained inside a tight vacuum tube with vents to allow air compressed in front of the spacecraft to leave the tube.
With this train, about 150,000 tons could be lifted to orbit annually.
Superconducting magnets are attached to the moving spacecraft, which sends a magnetic current into aluminum loops on the acceleration tunnel walls, this makes the “Train” levitate.
At the same time, a second set of aluminum loops are carrying an alternating current which will make the train go faster.
Whats really amazing about this train is the fact that it uses maglev technology (magnetic levitation).
What is magnetic levitation?
Magnetic levitation is when an object is suspended without use of outside force.
It levitates using magnetic fields.
Magnetic force is used to counter the effects of any acceleration including gravitational acceleration.
How is this used in Maglev trains?
Well, think of two magnets repelling each other, this is exactly what is happening in Maglev trains.
One magnet repels another, but on top of the top magnet is a giant train! Weight distribution is important as well to keep the two repelling magnets far enough apart and not too close.
Why a Startram?
Expenses and reusability: the creators of star tram say that this train is reusable!
With being reusable, the expenses to create rocket ships to send food and cargo up to space get way cheaper.
Instead of having to reconstruct and create new rocket each time, we will have the ability to use a reusable train.
The startram is able to hold more cargo than a regular spacecraft. Not only that, but it doesn't need an excessive amount of fuel which is better for the environment!
Regular spacecrafts use very large amounts of fuel which gets caught in our atmosphere. This will create a safer and more enviromentally safe alternative to the excessive fuel we use.
The two generations
Generation 1 System
The Gen-1 system proposes to send an uncrewed craft (the startram) at 30 g through a 130-kilometer long vacuum tube.
This idea includes the above stated solution of a plasma window which will hopefully prevent vacuum loss when the spacecraft exits the tube.
The idea is to make a launch velocity at a 10 degree angle, and launch this startram full of cargo into low earth orbit.
The tunnel tube has no cryogenic cooling requirements, no superconductors, and lacks being at a higher elevation than ground surface.
Superconducting magnets are on the “train”, which creates a current against aluminum loops that will be on acceleration tunnel walls, which would levitate the craft.
Generation 2 system
The second generation of StarTram is intended for manned missions. With the second, there is hope to create an ability to have humans on the ride as well.
This craft is intended to be very low in gravitational force, in this craft, the idea is to have an elevated exit.
The non-elevated area of the vacuum tube is said to cost millions of dollars per kilometer.
Magnetic levitation will be used in the elevated portion of the vacuum tube through a magnetic current in ground cable.
while cables on the elevated part of the vacuum tube carries a magnetic current in the opposite direction.
There is a total of three things that need to be overcome for startram technology to work .
First off, or the generation-2 StarTram to levitate to the required 14-mile height would be extremely difficult and has never been done.
How do we get out of this problem? well there are TWO possible solutions.
#1 is constructing a surface launch tube, Connected to it will be restraining tethers and superconducting cables, slowly, the cables will be energized, which will gather energy.
#2 is to straiten out the cable and tethering system which would lift the tube with as many cables needed. Energizing the cables will also require a significant amount of current, around 200 million amperes.
The second draw back is being able to propel and manuver the vehicle at the right speeds.
50 -100 gigawatts of power would need to be made in under 30 seconds to even get close to the correct speed needed which is a HUGE use of energy.
Third, is making sure that this tube STAYS a VACUUM.
This is important!! Its the only way this train could go as fast as it needs to go. The problem is that to make this happen it would require a plasma pump device at the end. Which yes, it exists, just not in this way.
Now, this concept is really interesting, but can it even be done?
There is a lot of support and sense in creating a startram.
First of all, everything that will be used in star tram actually exist. none of it is fictional.
All StarTram tech already exists; We just need to make all of it way larger.
Its costly but the cheaper option over time.
The gen-1 design could use up to 40 billion but that is way less then the 196 billion being used and spent for the space shuttle program in 30 years.
Also, according to John Rather, a former Assistant Director for Space Technology at NASA, “The overall feasibility and cost of the StarTram approach was validated in 2005 by a thorough ‘murder board’ study conducted at Sandia National Laboratory,”.
For more information or questions please reach me at Jadelmoreira012@gmail.com