Electromagnetic Launching for Affordable Agile Access to Space

Period of Performance: 07/24/2007 - 11/30/2009

$500K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Advanced Magnet Lab, Inc.
328A West Hibiscus Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Florida Institute of Technology
150 West University Boulevard
Melbourne, FL 32901
Institution POC

Abstract

The conceptual design of a novel, hypersonic electromagnetic launch system has been developed. Phase-1 assumed a 100-kg projectile leaving the launcher at 7,000 m/sec. The projectile is propelled and levitated by electromagnetic forces inside a tube filled with low pressure helium. A controlled acceleration profile, fully adjustable to the requirements of various missions, is used to reach 5000 gees in a 500-meter long launch tube. A constant-flux synchronous motor concept, developed during Phase-1, is a breakthrough technology that provides contact-free propulsion and self-centering suspension with sufficient stiffness and thrust. Rapid spin introduced into the projectile prior to acceleration enhances trajectory stabilization. The use of high-current, persistent-mode superconducting coils in the projectile generates high thrust force with near-zero heat dissipation. No brushes or projectile power supplies are needed. The low-pressure helium atmosphere in the launcher reduces aerodynamic disturbances and aerothermal heating during acceleration. The system is highly scalable to various payloads and launch speeds for a wide range of applications from kinetic kill weapons to direct LEO insertion of small payloads. The enabling technologies of the system, the constant-flux synchronous motor and the high-current superconducting projectile coils, will be qualified in the proposed Phase 2.