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Propelling A Small Rocket With Magnets?

  1. Oct 20, 2011 #1
    My senior project for high school is to prove that NASA can make their launch more efficient by adding electromagnets to launch. I was thinking just magnets lining a tunnel coming from underground that move the payload a lot like a maglev. My job is to make a model of this, and I'd like to make a real, working model.

    I will print out a tiny model of a rocket that I design myself in Solidworks, but when it comes to launch I'm stuck. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can make a small magnetic launching system for my model?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2011 #2


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    Google "induction launcher".
  4. Oct 20, 2011 #3


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  5. Oct 20, 2011 #4
    You'll probably need a small capacitor bank to power your magnets(presumably electromagnets). Basically, this is just a bunch of capacitors wired in series and parallel to store energy, and release it in a pulse, resulting in a higher amount of power at the same energy. Please note that because it is the same energy, the time is shortened, which is why it has the higher power.

    The capacitors in series provide a higher voltage, which can push a larger current, but at the expense of capacitance. Just add the voltages of the capacitors together for the total voltage. The capacitance in series is given by C^-1 = c(1)^-1 + c(2)^-1 + c(3)^-1 and so on.

    The capacitors in parallel provide an increase in capacitance and current flow. The capacitance of parallel is just to add the capacitance of the parallel capacitors. The current is the same, if the current is all converging to a single point. In this case, the current is added. This requires that the voltage be the same. However, this does NOT work if the voltage is NOT the same in all the branches.

    You should probably get a basic electronics book at the library if you need more information.

    If you need a place to buy some capacitors, you could try mouser.com. I bought a few pieces from them, and they literally have a crapload of stuff on the website.
  6. Oct 20, 2011 #5
    In real life, how would you stop the magnet from messing with the electronics? It is going to have to be a pretty powerful magnet.
  7. Oct 20, 2011 #6

    Arent they talking about how to launch the rocked itself, are they looking for a better way to load the rocked. But ofcourse, there are many ways to launch a rocket with electromagnetism. If the rocket is made out of iron, or is a one huge electromagnet, it can be propelled from the ground by magnets. Or it can also propell plasma gas and ionized gas with magnetic propulsion. Plasma rockets actually are probably going to be the next generation of rockets.
  8. Oct 21, 2011 #7
    That's a fairly simple problem to solve. I believe a faraday cage is what is used to screen electric and some electromagnetic radiation(depending on the size of the holes used in the screen). Basically, it's just a metal cage with small holes.
  9. Oct 22, 2011 #8
    How does that work then?
  10. Oct 22, 2011 #9


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  11. Oct 23, 2011 #10
    As I can see how it would block lightning and possibly average out an oscillating magnetic or electric field. However, if the magnet is turned on and stays on, as in this example, I don't see how it could work.
  12. Oct 23, 2011 #11
    I had forgotten about that. In that case, I'm pretty sure magnetic permeability interferes with the magnetic field. I think it draws the magnetic field lines into it or something. Wikipedia also has something on the Meissner effect, but I doubt superconductors are going to be used in a school science fair.
  13. Dec 6, 2011 #12
    Sounds like a scaled down gauss cannon or rail gun would be easier to make. Just make sure your rocket is non Ferris. But I don't know if that would count as a magnetic launch.
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