Architecture concepts involving space travel are always incredible to see. They are unique and leave us dazzled that something so innovative could be conceivable.
Being conceivable and being feasible, however, are very different beasts, which is why it is so rare to see these types of concepts come to fruition.
With what they see as the perfect mix of architectural innovation and simple – for them – mathematics, the creators of the Startram see commercial space travel as not only conceivable, but highly achievable.
Startram is the brainchild of Dr. James Powell and Dr. George Maise. With strong engineering backgrounds, the two have designed interspace infrastructure using existing maglev (magnetic levitation) technology and what they have labeled as ‘basic physics.’
The structure would actually have the ability to launch 300,000 tonnes of cargo into orbit at the relatively low price of $40 per kg. While this still adds up to a hefty cost, launching items into orbit using current means would cost $10,000 per kg.
The engineering technologies behind the development include the key elements of maglev to enable the acceleration of launch vehicles – magnetically suspended superconducting cables, magneto hydrodynamic (MHD) pumps and high strength structural tethers.
Aesthetically, the project is out of this world. Early renderings show what appears to be an exposed underground train tube – which is in fact a vacuum sealed launching shaft – shooting up from the ground into space, with what can only be thousand kilometre long support cables anchoring it to the ground. As a mass driver, the Startram itself uses no rockets through the trajectory period.
“We believe that Startram is the first mass driver design that combines available technology with intelligent implementation of basic physical principles to yield a design that is actually commercially feasible,” say the developers.
Maise and Powell feel this interspace infrastructure could be the very next step in modern civilisation. They have full confidence in the logical nature of what they intend to construct.
They may, however, find it difficult to convince the industry at large of the possibility of constructing something so outside-the-box. There are a number of factors that beg for reasoning, for instance how construction of the support stems could be possible. Still, it would be imprudent to quash innovation with such a strong and proven mathematical and engineering background without due consideration.
The overall price tag for the commercial project is $60 billion and could be completed within the next 20 years.