John Hunter wants to shoot stuff into space with a 3,600-foot gun. And he's dead serious--he's done the math. Making deliveries to an orbital outpost on a rocket costs $5,000 per pound, but using a space gun would cost just $250 per pound.
How to Shoot Stuff into Space
STEP 1: HEAT IT
The gun combusts natural gas in a heat exchanger within a
chamber of hydrogen gas, heating the hydrogen to 2,600˚F and causing a 500 percent increase in pressure.
STEP 2: LET THE HYDROGEN LOOSE
Operators open the valve, and the hot, pressurized hydrogen quickly expands down the tube, pushing the payload forward.
STEP 3: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
After speeding down the 3,300-foot-long barrel, the projectile shoots out of the gun at 13,000 mph. An iris at the end of the gun closes, capturing the hydrogen gas to use again.
That's all well and good, John, but the real question is this: can a human being survive the launch? And by "human being" I mean me. You think I won't shoot myself out of your space cannon, John? Because I 100% will. Sans helmet. You really think a helmet's gonna save you if a space cannon launch goes wrong? Because it's not. A trampoline sure, but not a helmet.
Thanks to Lee, who's currently orbiting the earth from a comfy 22,236 miles out. Let me know if we need to shoot more beer.