Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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I like this idea, only I think it should be run by the government.

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Esplodey Atmospheric Softener

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Our esteemed [bungston] has proposed using a beam of neutrons to carve a channel through the atmosphere, to facilitate rocket launches. This has many advantages and some drawbacks. Fortunately, we at MaxCo. have managed to retain most of the drawbacks of [bungston]'s concept, whilst almost completely eliminating the advantages.

The MaxCo. "Pillars of Flame" launch system consists of a vast tank of hydrogen, a slightly smaller tank of helium, some huge valves, and many immense nozzles, surrounding the rocket's launch site.

Launches can only happen when the wind is favourable, but this is a small price to pay. Some time before launch, the valves of the hydrogen tank are opened, and the no-smoking sign is turned on. Over the next few hours, a vast column of hydrogen wends its way skyward. Then, a few minutes before launch, the hydrogen is turned off and the helium valves are opened.

The rocket now sits, on the launchpad, at the bottom of a massive column of very low-density gas. The lower part of this column consists of helium, the upper part of hydrogen.

The launch now takes place as usual, except that it is more efficient since the gas that has to be pushed out of the way by the rocket is much lower in density than air. Best of all, once the rocket reaches the top of the helium column, it enters a column of hydrogen gas which, by now, has become somewhat mixed with air.

Assuming that the rocket's speed is, by now, greater than the propagation speed of a flame in hydrogen, the result will be a tremendous detonation immediately behind the rocket, following it on its ascent. This will, of course, provide a significant extra boost, as well as a spectacular display.

MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2018

It's all his fault. Atmospheric_20softener
[MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2018]


       The wind will have to be very favourable, to bend the gas column into exactly the right path for the rocket's ascent.   

       Perhaps some giant fans should be built around the launch site so that its path can be precisely controlled?   

       When not in use, they can double as wind turbines, or mechanisms for blowing rainclouds away.
Wrongfellow, May 29 2018

       //bend the gas column into exactly the right path for the rocket's ascent// Or just steer the rocket to follow the column?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2018

       Generally when people launch rockets, they have a very particular idea of whereabouts they want them to end up, and what speed they should be travelling at when they get there.
Wrongfellow, May 29 2018

       Yes, but you should see the size of MaxCo's Expectation Management team.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2018

       yeah, hmmm... you've got "ground effect" to worry about, ie: H2 is lighter, but when you push it aside it pushes the regular atmosphere aside, so there has to be some distance.
FlyingToaster, May 29 2018

       //there has to be some distance.// Did we mention things like "vast", "huge" and "immense"? Well, bless my soul, we did.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 29 2018


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