Electromagnetic Launchers for Space Applications

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Schroeder, J. M.
Gully, J. H.
Driga, M. D.

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An electromagnetic launcher (EML) was designed for NASA-Langley to boost large models to hypervelocity for flight evaluation. Two different concepts were developed using railgun and coilgun principles. A coilgun was designed to accelerate a 14-kg mass to 6 km/s and, by adding additional equipment, to accelerate a 10-kg mass to 11 km/s. The railgun system was designed to accelerate only 14 kg to 6 km/s. Of significance in this development is the opportunity to use the launcher for aeroballistic research of the upper atmosphere, eventually placing packages in low Earth orbit using a small rocket. The authors describe the railgun and coilgun launch designs and suggest a reconfiguration for placement of 150-kg parcels into low Earth orbit for aeroballistic studies and possible space lab support. Each design is detailed along with the performance adjustments which would be required for circular orbit payload placement


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J.M. Schroeder, J.H. Gully, and M.D. Driga, “Electromagnetic launchers for space applications,” IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 25, no. 1, January 1989, pp. 504-507.