How to launch jets of the future? With a roller coaster
Currently, most jets on aircraft carriers and the like have a propulsion system powered by steam, which is kind of awesome in and of itself. The problem is that as naval design has advanced, steam is used less and less as a power source, meaning that instead of running off the ship’s power, the carrier has to pack in massive boilers and other apparatus.
GE wants to fix all of this, by installing a magnetic launcher based on a roller coaster instead.
The process is essentially a maglev train except awesome: Jets would be loaded onto the coaster with a steel plate, which floats due to the powerful electromagnetic forces flowing through it, and then flung off the carrier at takeoff speed, up to 186 miles per hour.
Or, you know, crates of vegetables and random crap lying around could be flung at take-off speed, whatever.
GE also thinks this could be used to launch civilian unmanned air vehicles and to test cars by flinging them at high speeds down a track. Serious question, guys… can you turn it back into a ride?
Superman, Meet Top Gun [G.E. Reports]