The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has played a central role in space technologies and research. Over the years, NASA has taken lead in space exploration through technological development. However, this adventure has cost the agency millions of pound due to the expensive costs of equipment and energy needed to propel space shuttles into space. The agency uses millions of gallons of fuel to provide the energy for space transportation. NASA spends $10,000 to put a pound of payload in the orbit of the Earth (Katayama, 2002). The high cost of transportation and unreliability has put pressure on researchers at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville. The need for alternative sources of energy as well as technologies that can increase the safety and reliability of the space program has increased with the time. In 2002, the researchers at NASA contemplated the use of electromagnetic force to launch rockets into space instead of fuel. The use of electromagnets will be cheaper, cleaner and safer (Katayama, 2002). Studies reveal that this new technology will cut the cost of rocket departures by $9,000 per pound. This project idea is premised against the backdrop of this emerging technology.
This objective of this project idea is to reduce the cost of rocket departures by using cheaper, cleaner and safer electromagnetic technologies.
NASA has made significant contributions in the field of space technology. The organization sought to broaden human knowledge of space. The foundational goals of NASA included leading the world into technology relating to space. It also sought to develop vehicles that could carry people and other organism into space. More central to this agency was to rally international space agencies towards achieving major scientific advancements while leading them toward this course (U.S. Department of Energy, 2012). For five decades, the agency has achieved virtually its goals. NASA has focused on technological supremacy and expanded its goals to encompass manufacturing pre-eminence and Earth observation in light of the global phenomenon of climate change.
The success of Sputnik, the Russian space explorer in 1958, sent NASA into action. The agency designed a satellite that followed Sputnik into space. Other technologies like the Hubble Space Telescope that enabled researchers to view the universe from the earth’s atmosphere provided a clear view of the earth. Project Gemini and Project Apollo were other significant technological innovation by the space agency. Mars Global Surveyor became the agency’s first spacecraft be launched. This orbit was meant to map planet Mars. The spacecraft landed in Mars on July 4, 1997. The success of this exploration led to the landing of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers in 2004. For many years, NASA has been determined to explore beyond the Earth. The Galileo and Europa spacecraft were meant to explore Jupiter and Europa respectively. These innovations have elevated NASA’s standing in the global technological platform of space exploration.
Despite the major innovations by NASA, the costs of space exploration has hitherto remained a challenge. Studies reveal that it costs the United States $40 billion to land at the moon. This high cost of exploration is the reason NASA sought to explore other technologies that can reduce cost (U.S. Department of Energy, 2012). In this regard, the use of electromagnets cannot be gainsaid. NASA believes that the launch of future space technologies must be cost-effective and safer. The agency’s Advanced Space Transportation Program projects that by 2025, the cost of space launch will reduce by 100-fold to $100 per pound.
Marketing (or user) requirement
The agency is willing to work with anybody who may be pursuing a similar interest in actualizing this major technological revolution in space exploration. The use of magnetic levitation has been embraced by the U.S. Navy. The agency has carried out research aimed at replacing steam engines with magnetically propelled carriers. In this regard, NASA intends to diversify this technology to relevant fields where it may be applied.
Description of the proposed approach
NASA has proposed flight demonstrators that will use advanced technologies to launch into space. These technologies would take airline style and will characterized by horizontal take-offs and landings. The flight demonstrators will have short turnaround times as well support crew on the ground. NASA projects that the use of electromagnets will deliver cutting-edge technologies in which space shuttles will use smaller tanks as well as small launch vehicles. Magnetic levitation would help in launching spacecraft. This technology utilize the principle by which high-speed trains, magnetic lifts and roller coasters operate.
A maglev launch-assist system would be employed to drive a space vehicle along a track, thereby moving it electromagnetically. By accelerating the spacecraft at 600 mph, the rocket engines will begin to orbit. The agency built a 50-foot track in Marshall to where the magnetically levitated spacecraft would be tested (Katayama, 2002). Rockets pose a bigger challenge to NASA. The challenge that the agency faces is how to launch a rocket at 150 mph on tracks. While this technology may work with vehicles, further research is required to determine the viability of the technology on rockets.
Katayama, F. (2002, January 3). “NASA explores electromagnetic space launches,” CNN.
Retrieved from: http://archives.cnn.com/2002/TECH/space/01/03/maglev.launches/index.html.
U.S Department of Energy (2012). Annual Energy Outlook 2013. Retrieved from: