Getting materials and people into orbit has always been an expensive proposition, one that's even costlier now that the Shuttle program has been retired. But one enterprising Canadian inventor thinks he's got a solution: space cannons.
Designed and built by Richard Graf, the CEO (read: only employee) of Starfire Scientific Inc., the Starfire Space Cannon is a 13.7-metre-long portable artillery system with a 20.3cm bore designed to deliver payloads into orbit. However, unlike other spacegun concepts, the Starfire would detonate charges sequentially down the length of the muzzle, thereby reducing the G-loads experienced by its cargo. Obviously we're not going to be shooting people out of an 20.3cm tube, but the reduced force of the launch should allow for more delicate equipment to be put into orbit than what other potential systems are capable of.
The launcher is really designed for small cubesat payloads, with a muzzle velocity of 1,499 m/sec. That's nearly double the WWII Gustav's 823 m/sec muzzle velocity but still less than the 1,574 m/sec of a modern 120 mm tank round, and just barely enough to get a load of cargo into the very lowest reaches of space. Actually getting them into low Earth orbit is going to require a much bigger gun. And that's where you come in.
Like any modern entrepreneur, Graf is touting his invention on Kickstarter in search of crowd funding contributions. At this time of writing, the project had raised $4519 (£2,470) of $65,000 (£35,552) from 91 backers with 17 days to go. You might not have enough Bitcoin to book a Virgin Galactic flight, but you can at least cough-up some cash to help a cubesat live out its deep orbit dreams. [Mother Board - Starfire Scientific - DVice]