Copyright © 2003 by John Barber. Published by The Mars Society with permission.
PASSIVE MAGNETIC SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR HIGH SPEED LAUNCH SLEDS ASSISTING MARTIAN SURFACE DEPARTURES
John B. Barber
President, Modern Transport Systems Corp., firstname.lastname@example.org
Modern Transport Systems Corp., email@example.com
If humanity is to develop a significant and sustained presence beyond EarthÕs surface, the problems associated with extra-terrestrial transport need to be addressed. Mars is often considered as a prominent site for human activity. Martian activities of serious magnitude would benefit from improved means of access for transport from the Martian surface to Earth, and to other destinations in the solar system. A technique being considered to assist launches from EarthÕs surface may be applicable to departures from Mars: high speed launch sleds, carrying a winged, Mars departure vehicle to a take-off velocity. Magnetic levitation offers an attractive support system for such sleds. Several types of magnetic suspension are available. Each has differing characteristics that influence their respective applicability to this function. Of these, the passive magnetic system possesses characteristics that appear to make it especially desirable for application to a Martian launch sled. Propulsion could be via reaction devices, making use of Martian resources. The low atmospheric pressure on Mars allows for high sled speeds with only moderate aerodynamic interactions or resistance, compared to Earth. At the same time, the presence of the Martian atmosphere allows for a lifting body ascent, reducing the thrust needed from the departure vehicleÕs propulsion system. Assisting the launch of Mars departure vehicles with such a high speed launch sled reduces the fuel the departure vehicles themselves must carry, and may help to enable a sustainable, intensive-use, extra-terrestrial transport system.