Startram is a proposed “space train” that could make cheaper journeys beyond Earth’s atmosphere and will allow 4 million people a year to travel to space by 2032, according to its designers.
Startram, designed by one of the inventors of the “magnetic levitation” trains in use in countries such as China, would be a railway driven by superconducting cables suspended in the air by magnetic forces.
Trains would shoot to orbit in seconds in an 80-mile sealed tube – and the scientists behind the $60 billion proposal claim it could revolutionize industry, allowing for cheap space-based solar power and generating unimaginable wealth from mines on asteroids.
“Startram is based on existing maglev technology and basic physics. A motivated nation could build a startram system capable of launching 300,000 tons of payload into orbit for less than $40/kg,” say the space train’s creators.
The system would “shoot” capsules into orbit, accelerating a sealed cargo capsule to a speed of 5 miles per second at 30G using high-powered electromagnets.
“The resources of our own solar system are vast. The energy from the Sun hitting our small planet everyday is roughly 10,000 times our current energy needs. The raw materials locked up in asteroids and comets could support economic growth for millennia to come,” say the scientists.
Startram’s creators say that it would be the “next great step” for human civilization – and would provide a “safety net” if life on Earth was threatened by wars or disaster.
“A cargo-only version would cost on the order of $20 billion to build and could be completed within 10 years. A people-capable version could be built for $60 billion and be completed within 20 years,” say Startram’s designers, physicists including Dr. James Powell, the co-inventor of “maglev” train systems.
NASA scientists have looked into the technology and pronounced it feasible.
“Human beings are at the dawn of a new age. Either we will become a true spacefaring people, or we will be trapped on an overcrowded, strife-ridden planet with ever-dwindling resources,” say Startram’s creators.
However, the physicists warn: “Startram will necessarily be an international program, otherwise the potential for a expensive and dangerous arms race between nations is too great. Therefore, the must come from you, the people. This is simply too important to leave up to individual nations and militaries.”