Air Force Maglev Sled Breaks Record At 633mph

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The United States Air Force 846th Test Squadron's magnetically levitated sled system just broke a world record by hitting 633 mile per hour on a twenty one hundred foot track. :eek: Thanks to Railhaus for the heads up!
 

MongGrel

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Aw, that's cheating a bit with mag rails :)

Cool stuff though, wonder what if was hitting at the 1/4 mile.
 

NExUS1g

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Aw, that's cheating a bit with mag rails :)

Cool stuff though, wonder what if was hitting at the 1/4 mile.

So I was checking it out because it seemed awfully slow to me. Apparently this record is specifically for maglev. Maybe it's difficult to maintain a laminar flow of air between the track and car? Maybe imperfections in aerodynamics or the track cause the car to wobble? I don't know the complexities of running maglev that fast.

Traditional rocket sleds have gone up to 6,453 MPH apparently, though (which was Mach 8.6 that day given the atmospheric conditions). The record was set in 2003 by the Holloman High Speed Test Track (HHSTT).

EDIT: Found a video of that Mach 8.6 world record. The visuals were pretty neat, but the sound is really awesome.
 

TwiceOver

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I was wondering. I knew the sled the Mythbusters used was faster than that.

Man that thing would be fun to play with.
 

Nukester

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So I was checking it out because it seemed awfully slow to me. Apparently this record is specifically for maglev. Maybe it's difficult to maintain a laminar flow of air between the track and car? Maybe imperfections in aerodynamics or the track cause the car to wobble? I don't know the complexities of running maglev that fast.

Traditional rocket sleds have gone up to 6,453 MPH apparently, though (which was Mach 8.6 that day given the atmospheric conditions). The record was set in 2003 by the Holloman High Speed Test Track (HHSTT).

EDIT: Found a video of that Mach 8.6 world record. The visuals were pretty neat, but the sound is really awesome.


That just never gets old
 

i960

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Damn, what a cool job to be able to build and test these things.
 

tranle

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I don't think that this test represent anything as it would be the same thing as measuring an anti-tank rocket.
They need to put somebody on it like for train or cars.
 

UnrealCpu

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This is great news so when can America get some nice bullet trains that go 300mph instead of wasting millions on tax payers dollars on useless tests.
I mean the technology is already here just consult with japan.
oh wait i forgot America gives millions to foreign terrorist countries for aid in the mean time we still have homeless people wondering about in our streets and cities.

Great article
 
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NExUS1g

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This is great news so when can America get some nice bullet trains that go 300mph instead of wasting millions on tax payers dollars on useless tests.
I mean the technology is already here just consult with japan.
oh wait i forgot America gives millions to foreign terrorist countries for aid in the mean time we still have homeless people wondering about in our streets and cities.

Great article

I think that you're oversimplifying things here. First, I honestly don't think that building a bullet train is going to help the homeless, as you seem to be concerned with. Second, there are orders of magnitude more complexity in building such infrastructure for the United States when compared to Japan. Not only is there a significantly larger area in the US, but a significantly larger number of city centers that all have to be interconnected to make such a system worth it. All of the cost of building a system like that and maintaining it has to balance out in the bottom line. If it doesn't at least wash out with additional tax revenue, it's simply not worth it. In Japan, real estate is a huge commodity, so building infrastructure to promote its population of workers to live in rural areas made a great deal of sense for them. Generally speaking, flight is much more efficient in the US when it comes to getting people around for commerce. I could see an underwater vacuum train from New York to the UK being a reality long before the US would even consider a bullet train system. And be careful where you throw around the word "terrorist." Remember, those who fought for the independence of the American English colonies were terrorists.
 

NExUS1g

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I don't think that this test represent anything as it would be the same thing as measuring an anti-tank rocket.
They need to put somebody on it like for train or cars.

I don't think it would matter because the speed matters in regards to the effects on the human body. The Gforces would come from acceleration to get up to speed, but then once you're at speed, you'd return to 1 G. I'm curious what AMD's response to this Gforce would be.
 
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UnrealCpu

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I think that you're oversimplifying things here. First, I honestly don't think that building a bullet train is going to help the homeless, as you seem to be concerned with. Second, there are orders of magnitude more complexity in building such infrastructure for the United States when compared to Japan. Not only is there a significantly larger area in the US, but a significantly larger number of city centers that all have to be interconnected to make such a system worth it. All of the cost of building a system like that and maintaining it has to balance out in the bottom line. If it doesn't at least wash out with additional tax revenue, it's simply not worth it. In Japan, real estate is a huge commodity, so building infrastructure to promote its population of workers to live in rural areas made a great deal of sense for them. Generally speaking, flight is much more efficient in the US when it comes to getting people around for commerce. I could see an underwater vacuum train from New York to the UK being a reality long before the US would even consider a bullet train system. And be careful where you throw around the word "terrorist." Remember, those who fought for the independence of the American English colonies were terrorists.


And they said the railroad wouldnt happen but it did. The fact of the matter is U.S. dollars are going towards useless endeavors as this article is one of them. I mean doesnt the airforce have anything better to do?
Generally speaking that is what my statement is trying to get across . The way you are thinking is like how the average citizen thought back in 1825
Luckily we have a CEO named Elon Musk who might be able to change the way we live with electric technology and autonomous vehicles using energy efficient technology to get us to point A&B quickly.



Transportation technology[edit]
  • What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?
    • The Quarterly Review, March, 1825.
  • Hence, if it requires, say, a thousand years to fit for easy flight a bird which started with rudimentary wings, or ten thousand for one which started with no wings at all and had to sprout them ab initio, it might be assumed that the flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years--provided, of course, we can meanwhile eliminate such little drawbacks and embarrassments as the existing relation between weight and strength in inorganic materials. [Emphasis added.]
    • The New York Times, Oct 9, 1903, p. 6.
  • That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.
 

dethklokworkorange

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Yeah, well my Dad knows a guy at AMD, and he says the next version will be out in 2 months and will hit 650mph. I'm going to wait for that one.
 

NExUS1g

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And they said the railroad wouldnt happen but it did. The fact of the matter is U.S. dollars are going towards useless endeavors as this article is one of them. I mean doesnt the airforce have anything better to do?
Generally speaking that is what my statement is trying to get across . The way you are thinking is like how the average citizen thought back in 1825
Luckily we have a CEO named Elon Musk who might be able to change the way we live with electric technology and autonomous vehicles using energy efficient technology to get us to point A&B quickly.



Transportation technology[edit]
  • What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?
    • The Quarterly Review, March, 1825.
  • Hence, if it requires, say, a thousand years to fit for easy flight a bird which started with rudimentary wings, or ten thousand for one which started with no wings at all and had to sprout them ab initio, it might be assumed that the flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years--provided, of course, we can meanwhile eliminate such little drawbacks and embarrassments as the existing relation between weight and strength in inorganic materials. [Emphasis added.]
    • The New York Times, Oct 9, 1903, p. 6.
  • That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.

Does the Air Force have nothing better to do than study jet and rocket propulsion? I think that's one of their primary fields.

In regards to "they" who said it wouldn't happen, all I see are a few op-ed pieces regarding opinions on various modes of transportation. I'm not finding the opinions of legitimate economists of the time saying that it shouldn't be done. In fact, the economists of the time (the businessmen) were pushing hard to get the government to provide assistance for the project.

Regarding Elon Musk, I never speak down about anyone really pushing the envelope with ideas, testing tradition and pushing innovation, but you have to understand that most of what such people come up with is simply ill-conceived. Take, for instance, Elon Musk's Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco: it's simply not economically or logistically feasible to implement such a thing at this time. Ideas are never bad, like I said, but you have to temper, as a society, the ability to come up with ideas with the ability to determine which ideas are actually feasible.

Let's look at it this way, what would be the point of a bullet train network if it required more production put into it than the additional production that it helped produce?
 

UnrealCpu

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Does the Air Force have nothing better to do than study jet and rocket propulsion? I think that's one of their primary fields.

In regards to "they" who said it wouldn't happen, all I see are a few op-ed pieces regarding opinions on various modes of transportation. I'm not finding the opinions of legitimate economists of the time saying that it shouldn't be done. In fact, the economists of the time (the businessmen) were pushing hard to get the government to provide assistance for the project.

Regarding Elon Musk, I never speak down about anyone really pushing the envelope with ideas, testing tradition and pushing innovation, but you have to understand that most of what such people come up with is simply ill-conceived. Take, for instance, Elon Musk's Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco: it's simply not economically or logistically feasible to implement such a thing at this time. Ideas are never bad, like I said, but you have to temper, as a society, the ability to come up with ideas with the ability to determine which ideas are actually feasible.

Let's look at it this way, what would be the point of a bullet train network if it required more production put into it than the additional production that it helped produce?

Regarding your last sentence ,

If a bullet train existed it would open more opportunities to the average citizen whether it be job related, shopping, traveling , recreation etc etc etc . This would equate to more spending and more economic growth within our cities. Either way if the government spent 10-20 billion in today money with inflation 10-20 years from now the bullet train would be paid off and still making money through taxes or fees. I guess the government rather spend billions on aircraft carriers and maintain those . The fact is the government is wasting money on stupid projects like the one in this article and not spending it in places that would actually benefit the average american. We are way behind europe and japan when it comes to transportation and as you know we cant even get our own cities to fix pot holes in roads.
 

ButchCassidy

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That interview was filmed on a Friday. How do I know you ask? Because of that stupid red "morale" shirt.
 

UnrealCpu

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That interview was filmed on a Friday. How do I know you ask? Because of that stupid red "morale" shirt.

Yep stupid.. and weak,
did you know the secretary of the army is a openly gay man?
I am waiting for the rainbow shirts to come
 

NExUS1g

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Regarding your last sentence ,

If a bullet train existed it would open more opportunities to the average citizen whether it be job related, shopping, traveling , recreation etc etc etc . This would equate to more spending and more economic growth within our cities. Either way if the government spent 10-20 billion in today money with inflation 10-20 years from now the bullet train would be paid off and still making money through taxes or fees. I guess the government rather spend billions on aircraft carriers and maintain those . The fact is the government is wasting money on stupid projects like the one in this article and not spending it in places that would actually benefit the average american. We are way behind europe and japan when it comes to transportation and as you know we cant even get our own cities to fix pot holes in roads.

It's not just a one-time setup cost. There are operating costs that the production needs to overcome. You need to be concerned with rail maintenance, energy, car maintenance, legal concerns, insurance, management, drivers, security, and so much more all the way down to people to pick up litter at the stations. Out of curiosity, why do you find this to be a stupid project in the first place?
 

UnrealCpu

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It's not just a one-time setup cost. There are operating costs that the production needs to overcome. You need to be concerned with rail maintenance, energy, car maintenance, legal concerns, insurance, management, drivers, security, and so much more all the way down to people to pick up litter at the stations. Out of curiosity, why do you find this to be a stupid project in the first place?

I guess you and i think a little bit different when it comes to government spending. I bet if you lived in the 1800 you were that guy that would say the railroad would be worthless if built, or the guy during the 60s saying going to the moon would never be feasible due to the project size and cost etc etc.
I am not going to waste my time with you anymore.
 

NExUS1g

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I guess you and i think a little bit different when it comes to government spending. I bet if you lived in the 1800 you were that guy that would say the railroad would be worthless if built, or the guy during the 60s saying going to the moon would never be feasible due to the project size and cost etc etc.
I am not going to waste my time with you anymore.

I think that's a little out of line.
 

tikiman2012

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I don't see what the big deal is here. They used Maglev only to guide the small sled & support it's weight. Not that big of an accomplishment. It still used a rocket for propulsion. If they want recognition they should ditch the rocket & set the record using only the Maglev system.
 

spugm1r3

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My main concern about this is the fact that it is using helium. The stuff's awesome, but the US is getting out of the helium business and the prices have been skyrocketing. If they haven't spent a significant portion of their budget on recapturing and recycling the helium they are using to cool their magnets, they are doing it wrong.

Of course, I have no notion what kind of consumption rates a system that size incurs. I used to work in a lab where we used a helium cooled cryogenic chamber for testing negative bias temperature instability in wafers. There was a ton of planning and accountability that went into firing that thing up, due to the helium prices and the fact that we couldn't spend the money on the recapture systems.
 

otherweeb

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So...um..why?

Why is the Air Force building this? G force study? Advanced launch systems? I'd love to know there's a purpose beyond it being cool and fast.
 

Xrave

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What is the purpose of the airforce testing maglevs? Is the maglev just a method to levitate the rocket to test without ground friction?
 
D

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Regarding your last sentence ,

If a bullet train existed it would open more opportunities to the average citizen whether it be job related, shopping, traveling , recreation etc etc etc . This would equate to more spending and more economic growth within our cities. Either way if the government spent 10-20 billion in today money with inflation 10-20 years from now the bullet train would be paid off and still making money through taxes or fees. I guess the government rather spend billions on aircraft carriers and maintain those . The fact is the government is wasting money on stupid projects like the one in this article and not spending it in places that would actually benefit the average american. We are way behind europe and japan when it comes to transportation and as you know we cant even get our own cities to fix pot holes in roads.

First off you're a short sited. Research done here can apply to many fields. Some of the best advances in electronics, and every day items (Velcro) came from NASA. Research done here pays off in other sectors. Adaptive magnetic bottle research with super conducting magnets pays off big with things like rail guns, or fusion reactors.

Second, bullet trains are possible...except you have 10,000 miles of bureaucratic red tape, NIMBYs, construction, safety, and eminent domain issues to deal with. Then you have to convince people to drive to a train station, get off, and the get on the train, then walk in the city of their destination in the hopes it will save them money. So far that strategy does not seem to be working for Amtrak's Accela.

One of the most efficient public transit systems in the USA is MARC/DC Metro, followed by Boston, NYC, and Chicago (L train). And their service record stinks. So you are betting a lot that a bullet train will do better then the best of these systems, which are nothing short of abysmal.

Back in the good old days of trains the government gave away free land. And safety...well that was a joke. The improvements to cultural travel and economics was nothing short of miraculous for the day. Today that would be an incremental improvement given the current factors.
 

NExUS1g

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To those wondering why the Air Force is conducting these experiments, I completed some reading on the matter. Here's what I found...

One of the first mentions of this device was in the March 1996 Popular Mechanics magazine which has a full article on the maglev rocket sled which starts on page 26. At the time of the writing of this article, the maglev rocket sled was not yet built, so I believe this may be the first mention of this project anywhere. According to the article, this maglev is built next to the HHSTT which was used in the video I posted earlier, and was projected at the time to be completed in 1999. The purpose of the track is to test defensive interceptor missiles. The article continues on to state that the reason for the project is to allow projectiles to travel faster than Mach 9 for ground testing, which apparently is impossible for the HHSTT standard rail rocket sled I mentioned in an earlier post. It's stated that the justification of the US Air Force for developing this testing platform is that the alternative is more expensive air testing. It's stated that instead of testing every iteration of design in the air, they can test the designs on the ground for cheaper, and then only test valid designs in the air. Quoted from the article: "'Maglev is the only technology I know of that offers the ability to reach hypersonic speeds other than flight testing, where the difficulty and cost go up significantly,' says Leo Holland, coordinator of maglev systems for General Atomics, the prime contractor on the project. 'By going to Mach 9, you can displace a number of flight tests, and the money you save will pay for the maglev system.'" Given that this is the contractor stating this, it's worth taking with a grain of salt, but, to me, his claim certainly doesn't seem implausible.

The article states that there is a second reason for this track to exist. That reason is to allow "non-Department of Defense users, such as the Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Transportation, test superconducting magnetic designs and fabrication, and veryify computer models that predict dynamic magnetic fields for commercial transportation." The article states that the ultimate goal is to use magnetic propulsion rather than solid rocket motors.

At Aerospace Research Central, a site which posts published papers regarding aerospace, there's an article titled, "Holloman High Speed Test Track Maglev Program Update," published by the US Air Force in 2010. At this point, the paper states that the maglev track is still a work in progress as of 2010.

I hope this helps answer some questions.
 
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