Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Magnetic propulsion in space

  1. Jun 27, 2008 #1
    Can the idea of magnetic propulsion applied in magnetically levitated trains be used in aerospace?

    My conceptual model is as follows : using the magnetic field of earth ( very weak I know) to repel a superconducting coil, with large surface area and moving very fast . Thus the lifting force should be enough for aviation .

    for example : make aircraft wings from a super conductor plate at the bottom and a paramagnetic material from the top so repelling magnetic field lines beneath the wings.

    I know that would require a huge wing span and very high speed but , What about the concept?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2008 #2
    Does anyone have any equations that would describe this?
  4. Jun 27, 2008 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Since theh magnetic field of the earth is so weak, it isn't possible to build a large enough magnet to levitate an object above the earth itself.
  5. Jul 3, 2008 #4
    Assuming this propulsion is possible, how would you plan to support a huge wingpsan from the fuselage? Also, how slow would the flight controls response time be on a huge wingspan?
  6. Jul 4, 2008 #5
    Just to understand what you want to do: Do you want the earth's magnetic field to generate the lift or the propulsion of the craft, or both?

    I think of you had enough energy to reach the speeds you need to make the force required to generate lift, then at that speed you could just use conventional methods for lift.

    Magnetic take off rails have been conceptualised for a while now to aid the take off of aircraft. With much the same principles as the maglev trains, a rail accelerates the aircraft to take off speed and/or more to propel it into the air. Maybe you could use a combination of ideas, seeing that you would have magnets/superconductors on the craft anyway, just a thought...

    How strong is the earth's magnetic field, do you have a number? Does it vary a lot around the earth? It obviously varies with height above the earth too, yes?

    I'm not an expert on magnetism, but I hope that helps a little on along the way.

    P.S. your diagram looks suspiciously like a flying saucer, I hope what you want to do hasn't been patented by ET's or the government :wink:
  7. Jul 4, 2008 #6
    oooi, bad news, just did a little reading on the subject: earth's magnetic field is around 0.3-0.6 gauss (about 100 times weaker than a fridge magnet!). It compresses in the day and expands at night and it is governed by inverse square laws (assuming you're close enough). :cry:

    this could be tricky...
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
  8. Dec 11, 2008 #7
    the earth is a motor due to magnetic fields,fields are charged by the sun,the metals on earth and the charged van allenbelts determine the rotating direction of the Earth.If a concept of magnetic lift is done, the superconductors should first be mounted at ground level benieth a non conductive tube to avert magnetic arcing and the tube is to be retractable and directly connected to the craft above it.The craft is powered by a series of nuclear reactors.The superconductors are cooled by freon or better and the hull of the craft is also charged buy the reactors and capable of reverse polarity etc and both superconductors and the hull of the craft will creat magnetic fields independent from each other.the field above earth is inconsequential .The maths is complicated and to much to do here but it can be done.Earth has advantages over the earths moon in that electricity can be gained to a degree but to go to the moon for instance which has no fields would render a craft dead without its own ability to produce its own generated fields if magnetis was the only power source aboard.The visual effect of such a concept in action would look like a bright ball or disc in the sky with a brightly lit ball following closley behind it as the superconductors are so charged that they are superheated and so glow as well regardless of the shape of the craft it still will look like a sphere when glowing.The hull of an alloy craft with a major concentricity of amps flowing through it will heat the hull and hence burn any air around it stopping any friction from causing disintegration of a craft.If the superconductors are charged more, the bigger the magnitic field it creates.In the film depicting a coil rising above a fixed charged plate pluged to a wall socket is merely an example that electro magnets can cause metal to hover.but if it was a self contained and self powered independent unit the veihicle or coil will lift according to chargeing requirements (will lift accordingly to the ampage input to both the hull (above) and the supercondutors (beneith) the craft, Hence you have an artificial earth so to speak in principle with radiation fields affecting the craft within Earths atmosphere.The question I ask is whom can have a powerplant that is nuclear in nature to prove it.to my knowledge not the average public.Without the material and money also area of safety to do this concept would require more than the public but the answer lays within the confines as described.When the shuttle or Saturn V launched the flame is of a phased nature for SV maximum thrust pushing 5 millions pounds of pure alcohol per secnd peraech 5 motors so you can in fact see the V shaped flame and the nozzles are manuevered by computers aboard to give direction the the missile(Saturn V).Well the superconductors (as your concept describes should be at the bottom of the connected non conductive tube and also computer aided to control direction of the all in one concept of magnetic levitation,but therefor creating what would appear to be lift.However if the hull glows to stop air contact all around it,the craft is in fact inside its own induced vacuum.If you are in a vacuum you are by all intents and puposes equivently in space.If you are therefore in space and apply magnet resinence of opposing and attacting fields then you can in fact levitate within earths atmosphere and never burn or didintegrate if oxygen never contacts the craft.I like to think of it as unidentified floating object.The Earths floates ,then how does it float?,so why would anyone say a craft cannot float using the principals that are alredy doing it.The theory of gravity being that equal size objects hit the ground at the same time is not quite as accurate as sometimes depicted for example.If I had 10 kilo of lead in plate form and the same in sphere form all weight being equal and dropped both by computer control from the stratosphere,the sphere will hit the ground first due to atmospheric effects on the plate similar to a feather.But on the moon it will be different. In space (a vacuum) shape is no issue and neither is air.If the air is removed as a facter of 100% around a craft it will not burn.It is in a self imposed vacuum.? The experiment on utube is sound for the demonstration that it is. Proof was provided that things can float,levitate whatever,it is proven.The Earth is the model but your concept is very interesting although any floating object requires so much more power and self relience on the superconducter being fixed to the craft in order to function inside earths atmosphere and outside earths magnitic fields altogether.Imagine for instance a disc shaped object like a flying saucer very sleek in shape,standing on a coloumn that is surrounded by superconductors at the bottom circumference connected to nuclear plants via cables through the coloumn stem.Then the charging begins to the superconducters as in the experiment on utube,this would also create lift as well.The most interesting thing here is that instead of planes there could be 500 tonne craft that infact dont weight anything when floating in the magnetic field.The magnetic field of the earh is mighty,it causes the earth to rotate at around 8,000 or so kmh.Earth is a big piece of matter to move.Magnetics does this and is the answer indeed. I hope this expensive concept helps and I hope you can follow my meanings here.Apart from all of the above. I like your approach to the subject, my source of info remains confidentialy my concept,and I trust this may promp thinking elswhere in the world of physics and realised to active exploration very deeply,as usual there will be the knockers but that is to be expected.I wish you and yours a Very Very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year 2008.
  9. Dec 11, 2008 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Argh! My eyes! :bugeye:
  10. Dec 11, 2008 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I am borderline ready to report that post for crack pot posting but it's too tough to read through. Maybe I'll just report it for bad formatting.
  11. Dec 11, 2008 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thank you, Fred! I thought that I was the only one who couldn't follow it.
  12. Apr 27, 2009 #11
    I have researched this topic in great length, the method, even the physics laws have to be lightly followed because the basic rules that say it is impossible, have to be disproven, and can be! This requires a different look at magnetics, plasma, and light, because once the craft leaves the magnetic field of the earth the craft would have to use another form of magnetics with light and plasma plus a classified 4th element that would pinpoint another magnetic field as the attraction destination. The heat part of this equasion says to me you are on the right track, but keep in mind the heat factor will not be an issue once you are in the vacuum of space I will post a video and provide a link to it in a new post. Give me a little time to record the lift and the amazing speed in which it disappears and returns just as fast, slowing to a speed in which it can land with soft enough to keep it intact.
    Magnetics can be used for flight, but it would be extremely dangerous for anyone to travel with the craft because it crushes insects.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook