A Lunar Electromagnetic Launcher
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This paper details a lunar surface electromagnetic launcher concept and supporting systems which delivers one metric ton of lunar-derived liquid oxygen to low lunar orbit per payload launch. A passive coaxial accelerator is used to propel a 1240 kg payload module and 2000 kg carriage the length of the gun at 3000 times that of Earth's gravity. The 68 m gun consists of nineteen sections. The first three sections are used for cooling the carriage, inserting the payload module, and rotating both the carriage and payload module to provide ballistic flight stability, respectively. The final two sections decelerate the carriage as it remains on the surface for reuse. The remaining sections of the launcher accelerate the payload module and carriage to 1687 m/s in order for the payload module to obtain an apolune altitude of 100 km. An on-board propulsion system is used to circularize the payload module's orbit at the apolune altitude. The economic value model utilized in this study is the time to break even in terms of accumulated Earth-launched mass. Given the total launcher system mass of 2390 MT and a net liquid oxygen requirement in low Earth orbit of 1000 MT/yr, the time to break even for this launcher design and supporting systems (in lieu of lunar modules using conventional hydrogen/oxygen propulsion) is approximately 11.5 years.