China Working To Use Giant Rail Gun to Launch Hypersonic Planes Into Space

A team of Chinese researchers is reportedly building a giant electromagnetic rail gun to send hypersonic planes into space. The report revealed that the space plane would be more massive than a Boeing 747 and its sophisticated technologies could help to cut the cost of launch.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) revealed that the gigantic 50-tonne space plane will be launched at about twice the speed of sound when in operation. The team behind this futuristic project has been working on it since 2016. The project named Tengyun is believed to make a great scientific breakthrough soon.

The scientists built the railgun as an electromagnetic launch track to accelerate the hypersonic aircraft to Mach 1.6, which will travel about twice the speed of sound (Mach 2). The report has it that the gigantic space planes will surpass 129 ft (39.3 meters) in length and weigh 50 metric tons. If this estimation is accurate, it implies that the space plane will be longer than a Boeing 737.

How The Team Of Chinese Scientists Will Launch Planes Into Space Using Giant Rail Gun

The team will launch the powerful hypersonic planes into space using the giant rail gun. Immediately after launch, the space plane would create the track and fly into space once it ignited its engine. If the team behind this amazing engineering succeeds, they will use the new technology to reduce the cost of launching payloads into space.

The technology will inspire other space agencies across the world the develop a great interest in the development of electromagnetic launch systems as well. Since dependence on a plane’s own power to lift the vehicle into space would need a large amount of fuel, the researchers have to find an alternative way to launch the vehicle.

The team was also faced with the challenges of fighting the dangers of low-speed lift-off. They countered these troubles by changing the aerodynamic design and engine layout which significantly improved the vehicle’s high-speed flight efficiency. The team working on the Tengyun project remained confident in solving every challenge that could arise on the cost of developing the futuristic space planes.

“Electromagnetic launch technology provides a promising solution to overcome these challenges and has emerged as a strategic frontier technology being pursued by the world’s leading nations,” wrote team lead scientist Li Shaowei in a paper published in the journal Acta Aeronautica on February 6.

Testing The Hypersonic Planes

To ensure that this idea is practically possible, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) will have to test it theoretically using the 1.2-mile (1.93 km) long low-vacuum track high-speed maglev test facility in Datong.

The original purpose of this test facility in Datong was to offer a major test platform for the low-vacuum tube magnetic levitation train technology. However, it is currently used for aerospace testing because of its ability to propel heavy objects at the speed of 621 mph (1,000 kph) and possibly higher. The Datong test facility will likely be extended up to 37.2 miles (60 kph) long to reach a maximum operating speed of 3107 mph (5,000 kph) in the future.

SCMP revealed that this lab is one of the most equipped ‘ambitious electromagnetic propulsion facilities on the planet.’ This is the reason why it will now be used to obtain important scientific data for the space electromagnetic launch project.

In conclusion, we should be expecting this team of Chinese researchers to succeed in their futuristic project and amaze the world soon with it.

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