Special deliveries for space could someday arrive via cannon, if physicist John Hunter has his way. His natural-gas powered Quicklauncher system could cut the cost of equipment transport from $5000 per pound, to about $250. The prototype is set to be tested next month.
How to Shoot Stuff into Space
STEP 1: HEAT IT
The gun combusts natural gas in a heat exchanger within a chamber of hydrogen gas, heating the hydrogen to 2,600ËšF and causing a 500 percent increase in pressure.
STEP 2: LET THE HYDROGEN LOOSE
Operators open the valve, and the hot, pressurized hydrogen quickly expands down the tube, pushing the payload forward.
STEP 3: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
After speeding down the 3,300-foot-long barrel, the projectile shoots out of the gun at 13,000 mph. An iris at the end of the gun closes, capturing the hydrogen gas to use again.
Popular Science: A Cannon For Shooting Supplies into Space
(Thanks, Lee Billings!)
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.