Credit: Green Launch

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, a Jules Verneish hydrogen gas gun is being pursued to blast payloads to 62 miles (100 kilometers) altitude — the Karman Line — the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.

The effort is dubbed Green Launch. This Kickstarter is focused on Phase 1: delivery of scientific and DNA payloads to above the Karman Line.

Mini-Mart Deploying Scientific Payloads and DNA Samples.
Credit: Green Launch

Mini-Mart

Green Launch’s delivery vehicle is called Mini-Mart and will be launched by a hydrogen gas gun from the Yuma Proving Ground. The Mini-Mart is so named because it can carry anything as long as it is < 1.25 inches in diameter and 4 inches long.  There are three of these cylindrical payloads inside each Mini-Mart vehicle.

At the Karman Line, the Mini-Mart payloads will be ejected and parachute to Earth to be recovered.

Payloads will collect greenhouse gas samples and record atmospheric data as they return to terra firma. In addition, the Mini-Mart will carry postage stamps that have human DNA to beyond the Karman Line. Some payloads will include cameras and electronic sensors.

The Phase 3 orbital launcher is higher performance and will capture and recycle the hydrogen each launch. It is designed to deliver 3U Cubesats to a 300 km Low Earth Orbit.
Credit: Green Launch

Three phase effort

The three step Kickstarter program as blueprinted by the Green Launch team are:

Phase 1:  Green Launch of scientific payloads and DNA samples to the Karman Line.

Phase 2:  World Record Green Launch to 200 km altitude.  Phase 2 is not included in the current Kickstarter unless they receive extra pledges from Phase 1 which may be rolled over into Phase 2.

Phase 3:  Green Launch of 3U Cubsats to low Earth orbit. This phase will require more funds at a later date.  It will not occur unless they have a successful Phase 1 launch to the Karman Line.

This is a working G-tolerant satellite tested at 3,200 Gs acceleration. It has fully functional solar cells, a camera, power supply GPS and telecommunications.
Credit: Green Launch

Jules Verne redo

Green Launch has its beginnings in the original works by Isaac Newton “Principia Mathematica” and Jules Verne’s 1865 novel, De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon). It tells the story of the Baltimore Gun Club, a post-American Civil War society of weapons enthusiasts, and their attempts to build an enormous Columbiad space gun to propel three people to the Moon.

From the Earth to the Moon engraving from the 1872 illustrated edition.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to work by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a working 400 foot long hydrogen gas gun (SHARP) was designed. That work was led by John W. Hunter, now serving as Green Launch’s chief technical officer.

Hydrogen propellant

According to the Green Launch team, the ingredient Jules Verne was lacking is that hydrogen propellant has a very high sound speed compared to solid propellant such as gunpowder.

The available launch velocities demonstrated using hydrogen range as high as 11,200 meters/sec which is Earth escape velocity. Once SHARP was successfully demonstrated in the late 90s, the same scientists took on the task of making space launch more affordable than with expensive and fragile rockets.

As outlined by Green Launch, after completing Phases 1 and 2 at Yuma Proving Ground, using an on-site system, the group plans to use a modified version of SHARP to perform the orbital launches of Phase 3.

 

Resources

Learn more about this innovative Kickstarter initiative at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greenlaunch/green-launch-to-the-karman-line?ref=category

Also, go to the Green Launch website at:

https://greenlaunch.org/

BTW: John Hunter is appearing on David Livingston’s The Space Show, Tuesday, April 11, 7-8:30 PM PDT and will discuss the Green Launch project.

To give a listen, go to:

http://www.thespaceshow.com/

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