“Space Train” concept could travel at 3,000km/s and get humans to mars in two days
Charles Bombadier, a Montreal based innovator, has presented a concept for a hypothetical space train, ‘Solar Express’ that is quicker than the existing systems seen on Earth and can transport passengers and supplies between planets and space stations in our solar system. This space train is expected to travel at 1 percent of the speed of light or about 3,000 kilometers per second. Further, once the space train starts its journey, it will never stop.
“It would run non-stop, so smaller vessels would need to catch the train when it passed by,” Charles wrote on the Solar Express Website.
“In space, the most expensive portions of travel are the acceleration and deceleration phases. The energy required for those portions is tremendous, especially for something as heavy as a space train. In addition, if you were to start hauling cargo, it would become very expensive. However, once the train reached its cruising speed, its energy consumption would be minimal. That’s the idea behind the Solar Express concept. It would never stop; instead, space wagons/capsules would rendezvous with it.”
So, how does the Solar Express would work? The Solar Express is a series of aligned cylinders wherein each cylinder would have a length of at least 50 meters. Six among these would be linked together in a straight line and will move through space. These cylinders/torus would be divided into four cargo bays and could be swapped in-flight with the help of maintenance robots. The Solar Express would first accelerate with rocket boosters. Stored fuel contained in the vessel’s core could be used to make course adjustments. The train would also use the force of gravity to move around the planets and space stations.
Bombardier explained, “Huge solar arrays located along the train’s path could be used to capture solar energy and transfer it by laser to super capacitors. Water harvested from comets or small moons would be used for humans living on the train and transported to other stations. The harvested water could also be used to create hydrogen and propellant, but the main propulsion system should take the form of an ion thruster.”
There are still a lot of technicalities that need to be addressed, such as how the shuttles will offload goods from the moving vehicle, how to make it so quick and how to control such a high speeding vehicle. “Obviously, there is a lot to consider, starting with dimensions, masses, speed, energy, etc. How do you control such a complex vehicle?” Bombardier said. “The Solar Express is a basic idea and we would like to know how we could improve it.”
This space train is currently just a conceptual idea and is not in the process of making nor exists even physically. It is just the perception of futuristic transport that will be travelling across the celestial bodies and carrying humans or goods from one place to another.
A trip to Mars would take less than two days, if this space train becomes a reality. Moon, which is the closest object to our planet, could be reached in just few minutes while the farthest planets in our solar system like Jupiter and Saturn wouldn’t take more than a week or so to get to.