Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Ocean-based vertical rail-gun
  [vote for,

Similar in concept to my posting of "elevator", this idea is as follows: A "suitable" location in the ocean is chosen that is about 3-miles deep. A stable platform on the sea bed is constructed. Using 50-foot long/6-foot diameter, variable thickness tubes of titanium or composites(thicker at lower depths), a tower structure is created from the sea bed to 100 feet above the surface of the ocean. Non-corrosive cables with strain relief are used at necessary intervals along the height of the tower and firmly secured to the sea bed to insure structual stability. Secondary cables to each primary cable is secured as required. So now, we have a 3-mile tube which starts at the sea floor and pokes above the surface of the ocean 100 feet and is very, very stable, regardless of oceanic conditions. Another series of tubes are lowered into the first. These tubes contain the electromagnets and support electronics for the rail-gun effect, being 1 and 1/2 feet thick on the perimeter, reducing the usable launch tube to a diameter of 3-feet. A 3-mile long, vertical rail-gun would easily accelerate a small cargo ship to escape velocity(no humans allowed!) The cost, at $100,000 per linear foot of average total construction, would be about $1.6 billion, and completely reusable.
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003


       I like it, but you'd have to keep stuff out (animals, rain, etc.)
galukalock, Feb 03 2003

       Any way to use the (water) pressure difference between the top and the bottom to give extra boost?
yamahito, Feb 03 2003

       The tube, of course, is by no means open-ended prior to launch.
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

       Good call, yama. But likely not functionable in a controlled environment necessary for this scenario.
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

       Does it matter if the tube isn't kept rigid and straight, because i think that would be a major problem. (Stopping it collapsing altogether under pressure will also be an issue.)
kropotkin, Feb 03 2003

       Krop, The tube MUST be kept straight, non-collapsable and rigid, hence the $100,000 cost per linear foot. All factors must be considered and technologically compensated. Therefore the projected cost. There could be extraordinary times when a launch is not favorable. Also, site selection is critical for general environmental stability.
lasedtoomuch, Feb 03 2003

       "...and completely reusable"
Until a tanker runs into it.

       What if your trajectory is wrong or goes wrong? How do you correct?   

       Is most of the stuff we want to send into space < 3' across?
phoenix, Feb 03 2003


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