It sounds as crazy as the space elevator, but the physics work: a group of engineers want to build a slingshot-like machine to launch payloads to space at 1/100 the cost of rockets. The acceleration would be so high that it could only launch fuel and building materials, which is crucial for interplanetary travel.
Meet the team behind the Slingatron, a massive coil of railroad tracks that could shoot a train into low Earth orbit. They are hoping that their homebrewed mass accelerator could be used to shoot objects (not delicate humans) into space.
"The Slingatron space launcher is an earth-based mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator," they say on their Kickstarter campaign page. The group of engineers and scientists have already built some crazy-looking prototypes of this device, and now they're asking for $250,000 to create a 5 meter Slingatron that can launch a 1 pound payload at 2,237 mph.
This is an insanely weird idea, but no weirder than a space elevator, a massive device which NASA helped to conceive. And we think it's exactly the kind of thing that Elon Musk should be doing with his money, after he builds that supertrain.
Learn more on the Slingatron Kickstarter page.