Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Tether held by helium balloon
  [vote for,

Ok. Maybe not a new idea, but thought I would get your input. I heard about some company in Europe that is building super-large helium "balloons" to transport very large or very heavy(thousands of tons) cargo. What about constructing a super large doughnut shaped balloon which is used as a suspension platform for a 5 to 10-mile long cable made of whatever suitable materials and attached to a specially constructed "launch building" on the ground. The cable, or part of it, is electrically conductive, such that one is able to send many thousands of watts through it. The cargo craft, perhaps no larger that 12-feet tall, 3-feet wide and shaped like a hollow bullet is threaded through this cable on the ground. The inside surface of the tube which comes in slight contact with the cable is coated with Near-Frictionless Carbon(NFC), recently developed by Argonne National Laboratory. A mechanism inside the craft derives power from the cable and uses the power to effect a rail-gun like propulsion to accelerate the craft upwards towards the giant toroid helium balloon. At the top of the cable, near the balloon, a special cable release/cable catch mechanism is used to allow the craft to pass unimpeded throughout the length of the cable, through the toroid balloon, and of into space. Just some thoughts...
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

(?) lasedtoomuch's link http://www.techtran...v/techtour/nfc.html
[yamahito, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) lasedtoomuch's other link http://www.cargolif...itory/splash_e.html
(The company appears to have gone bust last summer -- despite opening a theme park called Cargo Lifter World, which seems like it should have been a sure winner -- but the site is still up.) [Monkfish, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

rocket launching balloon http://sketchup.goo...afa65a4554cfca1c846
almost the same idea [the great unknown, Aug 02 2007]


       I like jam in my doughnuts
po, Feb 03 2003

       Your name to the contrary, I don't think you've lased enough. Please take this idea back for more lasing.
snarfyguy, Feb 03 2003

       <writing style pedant>I had to read it twice to figure out what it did for some reason. Too many introduced terms coming out of nowhere. Maybe I'm just not good at reading complex descriptions.   

       It's certainly half-baked, and with a better description to sort out what's what, is worth my vote.   

       One big question I have: a rail gun, just like anything else, creates a reaction force on the gun. How does this setup resist that force? Or does it?   

       I'm really quite suspicious of this super-large balloon, though. link?
RayfordSteele, Feb 03 2003

       Ray, the super-large balloon is quite real. I saw it in Popular Science or some similar magazine. Cover article. I should still have the mag here somewhere. I will try to find it. Anyway, the 2 or more companies building these are very serious, prototypes and simulations are complete, and actual construction is planned. Apparently there is a huge market for such transport. The fact that these mega-balloons can lift several thousand tons is what gave me the idea, as a 5-10 mile cable has considerable weight. The reactive force on the "gun" would only be compensated by an overwhelming lift capacity of the super toroid, or a reduction in cargo mass. Though I am sure technical challenges would be faced, the concept, in theory, appears possible. I will check on available links.
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

       Here is one site on the balloon technology: www.cargolifter.com And here for NFC: http://www.techtransfer.anl.gov/techtour/nfc.html
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

       Please use the link feature, located under the idea text. I've done this one for you.
yamahito, Feb 03 2003

       I am going to ignore links - done by regulars in future   

       thanks yama
po, Feb 03 2003

       Thanks for the site-use info on links, yama.
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

       if you have floating platforms (balloons with engines to stablize) one a few miles above each other, the tether can be lowered down from one to the other. the same technique can be used above the atmosphere, just have to wait for the orbits to alighn.
the great unknown, Aug 02 2007

       Would you not need 2 cords for railgun-like propulsion? I thought those Lorentz forces wanted a loop.
bungston, Aug 03 2007


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