Feeds

Superconductor forcefield to shield re-entering spacecraft?

Euro/Russian plan for submarine missile test mulled

High performance access to file storage

Space boffins have hatched a plan to test their radical new superconductor magnet forcefield re-entry heatshield technology by firing it into space from a Russian submarine.

Flight International reported on the scheme yesterday, describing cooperative efforts by German space agency DLR (Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt), the European Space Agency and Euro aerospace megacorp EADS Astrium.

The proposed test module would use a magnetic field generated by superconducting magnets to deflect the superhot plasma which results when a spacecraft re-enters Earth's atmosphere at the tremendously high speeds required by space missions. Normally the heat is resistant by super-tough but troublesome insulating materials, as in the space shuttle, or by one-shot ablative coatings which burn off as a spacecraft descends.

Magnetic shielding, if successful, could offer the prospect of lighter and more reliable heat shields, as well as that of being able to re-use re-entry craft more easily.

Flight quotes an EADS Astrium official, Detlev Konigorski, as saying that the idea is "gaining more momentum", but nonetheless far from being a done deal. However, the DLR is now said to be "on board".

Not many of the technical issues seem to have been addressed yet, with the allied corporate and space-agency boffins still assessing the performance of the proposed superconducting coil and pondering methods of fitting it into a Russian "Volan" escape pod.

If the ploy goes ahead, however, the idea would be to test it relatively cheaply by launching the magnetic Volan on a suborbital trajectory using a modified SS-N-18 ballistic missile (NATO codename "Stingray") fired from a Russian submarine offshore and coming down in the remote Kamchatka peninsula. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.