Navy Electromagnetic Rail Gun prototype in action:

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Right now scientist and engineers are working around the clock to develop a gun for the NAVY that can fire a projectile at nearly Mach 8. That’s right almost 8 times the speed of sound. Dahlgreen in Virginia is home to the navy’s 8 Mega Joule Electromagnetic Rail gun. By the end of 2007 the navy plans to start working with a prototype that is 4 times more powerful.

The high voltage is created by charging up a bank of capacitors. When the bank of capacitors discharge a surge of current creates a massive magnetic field. This accelerates the metal projectile to mind bending speeds. The navy’s goal is to develop a 64 Mega Joule Electromagnetic Rail Gun by 2016 that’s 8 times more powerful than this prototype. Reaching projectile speed up to 5000 miles per hour.

This technology is so impressive that the NAVY is actually planning in developing rounds that don’t have warheads. Thats because of the massive kinetic energy available at the impact. The NAVY wants to equip its new generation of electrically powered ships with this new weapon but there are problems
for the scientists to overcome, The capacitors are big and the heat generated is enormous. But the NAVY is confident they will find a solution and take this new weapon into its arsenal.

Navy Electromagnetic Rail Gun prototype in action

    As many news portals announced The U.S. Navy likely will make its first attempt to shoot down a faulty spy satellite Wednesday night. It seems a warning was issued
by the US government to all ships and planes to stay away from a specific area of the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii. The notice says the two- and-a-half hour window begins 2:30 a.m. Thursday Greenwich Mean Time, which is 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on the East Coast, and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Hawaii. If you were wondering about the Atlantis space shuttle, don’t worry the timing of the satellite shoot down is after the space shuttle is scheduled to be safely on the ground. Also the Pentagon officials warns that the notice reflects the first opportunity to make the satellite go down, and solve this problem, but it’s possible the attempt it’s delayed until further notice:
“We have to make the notification, but it’s possible the conditions won’t be ideal, or that everything won’t be ready,” said a Pentagon official who asked not to be identified.

The satellite that costs approximately 5000 pounds, malfunctioned immediately after its launch in 2006, December, has a full tank of fuel attached to it. It is likely that it would remain intact during re-entry and disperse potentially deadly fumes and substances over an area the size of two football fields. The Navy plans to fire at the satellite as it enters Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of about 150 miles. The cost of the satellite shoot down was estimated by the Missile Defense Agency at 40 to 60 million

A Delta II rocket lifts off in December, carrying a reconnaissance satellite that failed hours later.

dollars. The option of striking the satellite with a missile launched from an Aegis cruiser was decided upon by President Bush after consultation with several government and military officials and aerospace experts, said Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffrey. I wrote this article after I read about this thing on CNN so you might find in here some numbers I got from there.

The reason I wrote this, is the connection with an aspect of technology, and I do like a saying “With great power comes great responsability”. If we launched a faulty satellite into our sky, it’s our business to take care of it, and we should make it fast and clean. This is an ugly part of science and technology but this things happens and we have to be prepared to deal with them.

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