Patrick Copeland

Do you know how much it costs to go to space?

It varies, of course, depending on what’s being sent and where, and what type of infrastructure exists that’s capable of getting whatever you’re sending to wherever you want it to go.

But just to give you an idea, it currently costs about $100,000 to send a standard 3-pound satellite into low Earth orbit. Larger masses can be a little bit more affordable, but can still cost up to $5,000 per pound.

But who cares, right?

That’s a great question. And the answer is everyone. Well, that should be the answer, and I’ll give you two reasons why…

First of all, traveling the cosmos is relatively cheap compared with the cost of actually getting off the planet. That costs a whole lot of dough, and all that money has to come from somewhere.

While it’s true that there are many privately owned space companies out there, there are still plenty of government programs sending people (and things) into space.

In a nutshell, that means when the NSA launches a satellite they plan on using to spy on us, they turn around and hand us a bill.

So reducing the cost of throwing chunks of metal into orbit could mean that more of your tax dollars go toward something you actually care about (but I wouldn’t get my hopes up).

Secondly, space exploration is vital. It’s the future of humanity. And as our presence and activity outside our own atmosphere increases, there will be a massive demand for supplies that we aren’t yet able to produce anywhere else.

Food. Water. Fuel. Building materials. Manufactured goods.

These kinds of supplies will be essential during the infancy of our forays into the stars.

And they’re all heavy.

Space Freight!

Lucky for the human race, there are smart people out there trying to solve this problem.

One company, HyperV Technologies Corp., has proposed a “railroad to space using a mechanical hypervelocity launcher to enable large-scale space utilization” that will be only one-hundredth of the cost of the rockets we currently use.

Fancy, I know.

They’re calling it the Slingatron.

The Slingatron is designed to work by “slinging” bulk payloads into orbit using a unique mechanical acceleration approach that can launch payloads at up to 7 kilometers per second, matching the velocity of vehicles that are currently in low Earth orbit (LEO).

If it works on the scale they’re planning, the end result will be a 100% electrically powered, land-based Earth-to-orbit launcher capable of hurling virtually any g-force-resistant payload into orbit.

The math to how it works is somewhat technical, but it basically uses a gyrating spiral rail (hence the train analogy) to harness centripetal force.

By placing the payload at the center and releasing it once the rail has reached launch speed, the payload continues to accelerate as it travels outward on the spiral arm until it’s launched, hopefully into space.

The technology is very promising, and even though they haven’t sent anything into space yet, the company has already successfully built and tested two prototypes, each a scale up from the last.

The Mark I Slingatron was the first demonstration of a spiral launch track, but still using a rolling sphere. They were able to launch a 1-ounce, ¾-inch-diameter steel ball bearing at 152 meters per second.

The Mark II Slingatron was the first attempt at a semi-modular design for launching a heavy sliding payload. With this design, they were able to launch a sliding, half-pound payload at 100 meters per second.

These are impressive results, if you ask me…

Right now the company is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their third prototype, which will be used to launch a quarter-pound payload to 1 kilometer per second. This latest model will be the largest yet, and I’m sure they’re hoping its success will lead to larger-scale funding for research and development.

I, for one, am excited, not just about this idea, but about the face of the future in general. With all these people coming up with so many unique ideas and working so diligently, it seems inevitable that we’ll see a real expansion into space in our lifetime.

For more information on the Slingatron project, check out their Kickstarter page, below.

Here’s to the future,

Patrick Copeland
for Tomorrow in Review

You May Also Like:


Lifesaving Defense-Tech “Miracle Materials” in Action

Byron King

Hidden in the burnt wreckage are a number of stunning advances in military technology, namely the increasing use of advanced metals and carbon composites in aircraft design and construction. Without these "miracle materials," whose origins lie in Cold War-era military research, the SFO crash could have been far worse.

Patrick Copeland

Patrick Copeland is a copywriter for Agora Financial and writes an editorial that is published in Tomorrow in Review. Before working for Agora, he worked as a freelance writer, writing mostly for the fitness and hydroponics industries.

Recent Articles

The US Debt Crisis that Will Never Happen

Chris Mayer

One of the most heated political battles raging across the western world is debt versus austerity. In the U.S. this debate reached it's apex in 2011 when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded by Standard and Poor's. In today's essay, however, Chris Mayer throws the debate out the window, explaining why he thinks a U.S. debt crisis will never happen...


3 Tips to Finding Small Companies With Huge Potential

Matthew Milner

Believe it or not, more capital for a company doesn't necessarily mean better returns for investors. In fact, in a recent study that dug through data from more than 200 acquisitions going back to 2006, they found a "sweet spot" for the most likely acquisition targets. And it's lower than you think. Matthew Milner explains...


Disruptive Innovation Will Change How You View Obamacare

Greg Beato

The Affordable Care Act dumped 2,000 pages of regulations into the health care sector, stifling any innovation that could have brought about real cost savings. But even with these obstacles, there are still people looking for ways to do things better and at a lower cost. These new technologies could be the key to fixing health care in America...


Why Old-School Tech Stocks Are Beating Social Media

Greg Guenthner

While many of the newer social media stocks struggle for gains this year, old-school tech stocks have become some of the best trades on the market. With the rare exception (Facebook is doing well—shares are up 26% year-to-date) the social stocks are in the gutter. They got off to a fast start in January and Februray, but ran out of steam in the spring. Aside from a few feeble attempts, few have posted anything close to a noteworthy comeback. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Groupon are all down double-digits year-to-date. Groupon—the worst performer on this short list—is down 47%. On the other had, the biggest of the big tech stocks on the market are helping traders pile up even larger gains right now. Greg Guenthner explains…


Video
Creditism and the Threat of a New Depression

Richard Duncan

In the 1960s, total credit in the U.S. broke the one trillion dollar mark...and since then, it has expanded over 50 times. But now, as Richard Duncan explains, the explosion of credit that's made America prosperous, threatens to take the entire economy down. And that could mean the return of another depression...