General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Could rail gun technology be used to decelerate an object?

Asked by Ltryptophan (12091points) July 29th, 2016 from iPhone

couldn’t object fired from a railgun be “Caught” with a similar apparatus? Could a rail gun fire an object into outer space?

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9 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think it is recognized as the technology of choice for atmosphere free low gravity launches from places like our moon. But the difficulties involved with accurately “catching” an object moving at interplanetary speeds seem impractical to me.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

In theory yes it can. I think a practical application would be a subway supertrain. I agree with Stanley about space flight.

msh's avatar

Wow. Excellent idea! The possibilities are boggling if it could be accomplished. I wonder if… hmmm…gotta think on this some more. Advantages if developed would be incredible if honed. Nice job! Clap clap clap! :)

LuckyGuy's avatar

The captured energy could theoretically be recovered.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@msh Thanks. Maybe it will find the right ear.

funkdaddy's avatar

Couldn’t object fired from a railgun be “Caught” with a similar apparatus?

This is how maglev trains brake and some of the designs for the new Hyperloop propose to keep power needs low.

If you want it to leave the rail, wouldn’t it need to be really accurate in order to be caught? Like sliding a bullet on a railroad track at x distance?

Could a rail gun fire an object into outer space?

Not unless they get a lot better. It just doesn’t go fast enough for escape velocity.

Also, how long is the rail? You’re looking to accelerate something in that span alone, it has to be able to handle that level of acceleration. Proposed railguns fire “slugs” partially because they can handle the acceleration.

I don’t think we have any piece of the technology needed at this point.

dabbler's avatar

People have certainly done the calculations for shooting a railgun into space and it’s possible, but at the extreme speed needed at launch to get to orbit going through air creates extreme temperatures and violence from turbulence.

funkdaddy's avatar

For fun and games on the big wiki

Mass Driver
Space Gun

And stackexchange discussion on Railgun Assisted Orbital Launch

And more technical with built prototypes and research from NASA…

The Feasibility of Railgun Horizontal-Launch Assist

Kept me busy while my kids watched a movie ;)

RocketGuy's avatar

These have been used on roller coasters for many years:

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