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New system to slingshot cargo into space

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 18:07

Washington: An alternative transportation system to send small payloads and bulk cargo, like water or fuel, into space is being developed by a US company.

The Virginia company HyperV Technologies Corporation proposes to slingshot objects off the Earth, rather than using chemical rockets.

"Imagine the old-style sling, with a string that you would whirl a payload around and then you`d let go and it`d go flying off," HyperV president and chief scientist Doug Witherspoon said.

The system called "Slingatron" uses a spiral-shaped steel track that accelerates a payload with gyrating, hula hoop-like motions,`Discovery News` reported.

With around 60 cycles per second and precision timing, a payload travelling along the inside of the spiral will synchronise with the hula hoop-motion and continue accelerating, Witherspoon said.

"You can theoretically get velocities that are many, many kilometres per second," Witherspoon said.

In order to get into low-Earth orbit, such as where the International Space Station (ISS) flies, an object needs to be moving at about 7.6 kilometres per second.

The HyperV intends to use a quarter-pound payload for its demonstration run.

The system would not replace traditional chemical rockets. For starters, acceleration at launch would reach thousands the times of Earth`s gravitational force far too high for launching humans.


First Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 18:07
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