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draughting rockets

Is the plasma from a rocket easier to travel through than the atmosphere?
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I had the thought of firing a ball of plasma into orbit with a protected rocket inside but even my mind baulked at the number of scifi steps needed for it to be a reality.

I did come up with the question of whether a rocket traveling in behind another rocket has a less eanergetic trip ? due to the first doing a lot of the work. If this is feasible, the first rocket could be a drone of the second. Third could make a train of it, in the trains of the other two.

Launch one, get another one off by 10% less.

wjt, Sep 08 2019

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       Most of the energy goes into hauling the vehicle's mass (most of which is fuel) out of the gravity well; an orbital launcher is on a near-vertical trajectory, and above 15km (where it gets very quickly) air resistance ceases to be significant.   

       [-] Bad Physics.
8th of 7, Sep 08 2019
  

       //thought of firing a ball of plasma into orbit with a protected rocket inside but even my mind bulked//   

       The rocket could project its own preceding plasma... or at least a continuous collapsing super-heated volume of air at an optimal distance which would create a partial vacuum in front of the craft.   

       Sp. baulked
pertinax, Sep 08 2019
  

       You would very quickly get your rocket out of the Earth's gravity well if only you could get it to stay still while the Earth went zooming off at 110 000 kph on its orbit around the Sun. Cosmic equilibrium would be maintained in this case by the enormously accelerated spinning of Newton in his grave.
pertinax, Sep 08 2019
  

       // continuous collapsing super-heated volume of air //   

       Supercavitation for torpedoes (like the Shkval, widely known to exist, as used by the Kursk, widely known to have sunk) is Baked but in a launcher you must justify every extra gramme of mass - mass limits on torpedoes are rather less challenging. The idea was extensively researched in the 1950's and '60's - vide various published NASA studies.   

       The extra mass on your supercavitation system has the be less than the fuel saved in just punching through by brute force.   

       Bear in mind that such a system will need to be mounted at what rocket scientists refer to as "the pointy end". So either you work out a clever way of jettisoning it once you're out if the atmosphere, or it is designed to have negligible residual mass, or you lug the thing into orbit and add it to the ever-increasing cloud of junk up there.
8th of 7, Sep 08 2019
  

       Fair enough, only a small skin of air to worry about, relative to the jump. Is the fuel burn linear or is that 15/200 a larger chuck of effort because of the air and fuel weight?   

       [pertinax] bulked fixed. I wonder what Newton's take on Quantum Mechanics would have been and his thoughts on how the fabric of space-time can help us climb the gravity well.   

       Of all the features of plasma, getting rid of mass fast seems the only one utilized.
wjt, Sep 08 2019
  

       // Is the fuel burn linear //   

       Not entirely, but the mass/velocity equation for a rocket (Tsilkowsky et. al., q.v) is a second order differential equation.
8th of 7, Sep 08 2019
  

       There is more pressure behind a rocket than there is in front of it. That's what keeps it moving forward.   

       Bad Science, I'm afraid.
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 08 2019
  

       Yes, but at least it's not perpetual-motion over-unity lighter-than-air solid Bad Science; theoretically, the idea is not without merits, but in reality the extra mass penalty is too big.   

       Horrible thing, reality; that's why we carefully avoid it.
8th of 7, Sep 08 2019
  

       //we carefully avoid it// I think it's more the other way around.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2019
  

       It's kind of a mutual thing, actually.
8th of 7, Sep 08 2019
  

       // //continuous collapsing super-heated volume of air// //   

       //Supercavitation for torpedoes (like the Shkval, widely known to exist, as used by the Kursk, widely known to have sunk) is Baked but in a launcher you must justify every extra gramme of mass - mass limits on torpedoes are rather less challenging. The idea was extensively researched in the 1950's and '60's - vide various published NASA studies.//   

       Can't find the specs any more, but apparently Russia has a jet which uses focused microwaves to super-cavitate air and create a partial vacuum while in the atmosphere.
You might have better luck at finding it than me.
  

       //The extra mass on your supercavitation system has the be less than the fuel saved in just punching through by brute force.
Bear in mind that such a system will need to be mounted at what rocket scientists refer to as "the pointy end". So either you work out a clever way of jettisoning it once you're out if the atmosphere, or it is designed to have negligible residual mass, or you lug the thing into orbit and add it to the ever-increasing cloud of junk up there.//
  

       hmmm, if the cavitation devices 'are' using focused microwaves like I read then perhaps beefing them up a bit and leaving them in LEO might be just the ticket for vaporizing garbage with orbits which are out of control while offsetting the cost of added weight.
Honestly though, if your rocket does not have to overcome atmospheric resistance then I think the extra weight vs. fuel thing goes away on its own.
  

       //I think the extra weight vs. fuel thing goes away on its own.//   

       For a big rocket, not really. Air resistance isn't a large factor (especially as speed increases only as air density is falling anyway). Extra mass, though, exponentiates in terms of fuel requirements.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2019
  

       Interesting. Well obviously a dissipating gravity well at an optimal distance is the way to go then.   

       What sized aerodynamic flow does a fighter jet produce?   

       At least a Red Arrows five point, positive quadrant hyperbolic send off to 14,000m on the rockets trajectory axis wouldn't be a waste. It's still a, state of the art, visual display.
wjt, Sep 09 2019
  

       You're 'avin 'a larf, ain't yer ? Hawks are only little trainers ... 14000m is the edge of the envelope, if you want to go aerobatic at that altitude you'll need a Typhoon or an SU-27.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2019
  

       //Most of the energy goes into hauling the vehicle's mass (most of which is fuel) out of the gravity well//

So, logically, the answer is to fire a large source of gravity into orbit just ahead of the rocket, to neutralise the Earth's gravity - such as a very small black hole, or handy chunk of a white dwarf or neutron star
hippo, Sep 09 2019
  

       The sensible way is to use a graviton-polarity generator.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2019
  

       //graviton-polarity generator//
Does Radio-Shack still have those, or will I have to go find one on e-bay?
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 09 2019
  

       //e-bay// Maybe there's an equivalent Higgs-bay out there.   

       //Typhoon or an SU-27// 14,000m was the guessed end of run but these planes could design a bigger splash/wash. To weave up the right functioned atmospheric wave; size, shape, and specs of a group of planes or even different planes would all come into play in sculpturing the air.
wjt, Sep 10 2019
  

       Why not use a vertically-launched rocket ? Oh, wait ...
8th of 7, Sep 10 2019
  

       Yo Dawg!
I heard you like rockets, so I put rockets on your rocket so you can launch while you launch.
Loris, Sep 10 2019
  

       For a rocket, the best possible senario would be every combustion reactant vectoring in the perfect direction to push the rocket forwards, well that's what the chamber and nozzle do.   

       Is there a complex pattern of air, a perfect patterned air environment, that will boost the rocket's engine in that first 15km stage? The denser under the rocket, lighter on top, right?   

       A thought, when does the reactant leave the rocket. When one throws a ball the, exact point the ball untouches the hand Newton's reaction is split. For a rocket is it in the reaction chamber? If the chaotic reacting, all directions vectoring plasma is treated as a solid then somewhere at the convergent section, before the nozzle, the plasma isn't touching the rocket anymore.
wjt, Sep 11 2019
  
      
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