Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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slingshot space

Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy, cheap style
(+4, -4)
  [vote for,

The next time that Halleys Comet pays us a visit I think that NASA or whoever has taken over for them, should launch a space probe to rendevous with it, but only close enough for it to fire an explosive tipped harpoon into the ass end of the comet. The harpoon would be tethered to the probe on an extremely long bungee cord, ( If there is a material which will be able to handle the rigors of space, the debris from the comet, and have enough stretch for it to act as a bungee cord). Small thrusters would keep the probe from slamming into the back of the comet, and as the probe clears the comet entirely the cord would be severed and the probe will be flung to the far reaches of the solar system.

The following has been added since the original.

I got to thinking that if the probe met up with the rear of the comet, moving perpendicular to it's trajectory, and then deployed the harpoon, the probe would begin to slow as the slack came out of the bungee. A whip effect would then occur dragging the probe back to the side of the comet which it had first aproached, if thrusters were then engaged to keep the probe moving at a tangent to the comet, and if the bungee cord were long enough, the probe would begin to wrap around the comet gaining speed with each wrap, like a figure skater spinning and pulling her arms in to spin faster. I have no idea how much speed could be imparted this way, but if Haleys Comet, makes it to the outer reaches of the solar system in under fifty years, the probe should do it in signifigantly less than this.

Tether Technology: A New Spin on Space Propulsion http://www.space.co..._tech_030618-1.html
"station miles and miles of cart-wheeling cable in orbit around the Earth. Then, rotating like a giant sling, the cable would swoop down and pick up spacecraft in low orbits, then hurl them to higher orbits or even lob them onward to other planets." [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Can you adapt this to take on any passengers? i'm game +1
skinflaps, Oct 16 2002

       Heck you can take your whole clan. I'll give you a package deal.   

krelnik, Oct 16 2002

       [2 fries] .....do i get to come back again...../shakes violently/
skinflaps, Oct 16 2002

       Is this like swinging on a star?
rabbit, Oct 16 2002

       Please do not touch the comet. It is for display purposes only.
waugsqueke, Oct 16 2002

       OK, harpoon the comet as it goes past, but have the bungee cord attached to someone still on Earth ..... when the slack is taken up, TWOINGGGGGG - they get catapulted into deep space at high velocity.   

       I nominate Kylie Minogue to be the test pilot ....
8th of 7, Oct 16 2002

       Yes skinflaps, you get to come back, and if my calculations are correct it will be somtime sooner than ninety six years from the date of departure, how much sooner depends on the bungee. For test pilot, I nominate Don cherry, (no particular reason, it's just something I'd pay a few bucks to see).   

       Who the hell is Kylie Minogue?   

       nomonate John Hughes might help him not to stay home alone.
skinflaps, Oct 17 2002

       try adding Madame Tussaud's to that google.
po, Oct 19 2002

       Strangely enough, NASA is studying something akin to this idea as an actual way to hurl space probes out from low earth orbit. Can you imagine a trebuchet with a 62 mile long arm? See link.
krelnik, Jun 19 2003

       Wow, that would really chuck a fridge now wouldn't it?   


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