Why does NASA not use electricity and the rail system to launch equipment from Earth into space and beyond?

Because the Earth has an atmosphere.  An electro-magnetic rail system would provide an interesting option for launches from the Moon, which has 1/6th Earth’s gravity and no atmosphere.  But no Earth, atmospheric friction would dissipate much of the momentum imparted from a rail system as soon as the speed rose above a few hundred miles per hour, far far less than escape velocity.  That is why rockets initially rise nearly vertically, to get above most of the atmosphere, before they tip over into more nearly horizontal flight to gain orbital speed.

David Morrison

NLSI Interim Director

September 25, 2007

NESF 2020

Lunar Landing Workshop

SSERVI Team Science

Did you know?

Only about 59 percent of the moon's surface is visible to us here on earth.

Read More