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Name of Image: Tabletop Experimental Track for Magnetic Launch Assist
MIX #: 0000362
NIX #: 0000362 MSFC-0000362
Date of Image: 2000-01-01
Category: Research Technology

Full Description: Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC’s) Advanced Space Transportation Program has developed the Magnetic Launch Assist System, formerly known as the Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) technology that could give a space vehicle a running start to break free from Earth’s gravity. A Magnetic Launch Assist system would use magnetic fields to levitate and accelerate a vehicle along a track at speeds up to 600 mph. The vehicle would shift to rocket engines for launch into orbit. Similar to high-speed trains and roller coasters that use high-strength magnets to lift and propel a vehicle a couple of inches above a guideway, a Magnetic Launch Assist system would electromagnetically propel a space vehicle along the track. The tabletop experimental track for the system shown in this photograph is 44-feet long, with 22-feet of powered acceleration and 22-feet of passive braking. A 10-pound carrier with permanent magnets on its sides swiftly glides by copper coils, producing a levitation force. The track uses a linear synchronous motor, which means the track is synchronized to turn the coils on just before the carrier comes in contact with them, and off once the carrier passes. Sensors are positioned on the side of the track to determine the carrier’s position so the appropriate drive coils can be energized. MSFC engineers have conducted tests on the indoor track and a 50-foot outdoor track. The major advantages of launch assist for NASA launch vehicles is that it reduces the weight of the take-off, the landing gear, the wing size, and less propellant resulting in significant cost savings. The US Navy and the British MOD (Ministry of Defense) are planning to use magnetic launch assist for their next generation aircraft carriers as the aircraft launch system. The US Army is considering using this technology for launching target drones for anti-aircraft training.
(MRPO) MRD/SPD Discipline(s): n/a
(MRPO) Subject Type: n/a
Keywords: Magnetic Launch Assist, Magnetic Levitation, MagLev
MSFC Negative Number: 0000362
Reference Number: MSFC-75-SA-4105-2C
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