1999 NASA STTR Phase-I Proposal
Proposal #: 990114 

1. Research Topic:   02 - Launch and Payload Processing Systems 
2. Project Title:    Universal Superconducting Magnets for MagLifter Launch 
Assist Sleds 

3. Small Business Concern                         4. Principal Investigator 
   Name:    Advanced Magnet Lab, Inc.                Rainer Meinke, Ph.D. 
   Address: 2730 Kirby Avenue, Bldg. 5 
   City:    Palm Bay 
   ST:      FL Zip:32905 

5. Research Institution 
   Name:    Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
   Address: 167 Albany Street 
   City:    Cambridge 
   ST:      MA Zip:02139 

6. Technical Abstract (Limit 200 words)

NASA is considering an electromagnetic catapult, the "MagLifter" to lower the cost of cargo delivery to space. A carrier sled levitated and propelled by magnets provides the initial velocity to a space transportation vehicle. Superconducting magnets enable higher fields at lower weights than normal conducting magnets and consequently a significantly larger clearance between the guideway and the carrier sled. The reduced weight of the carrier sled and the relaxed mechanical tolerances of the guideway not only lead to cost savings in construction and operation of the MagLifter system, but to a more robust system with higher operational reliability.

A superconducting magnet system is proposed for the MagLifter carrier sled and will be compatible with most guideways. The modular design will allow scalable configuration to accommodate the full range of required payloads. The superconducting coils operate in a persistent current mode, eliminating the need of a power source during the launch. A conceptual magnet design including the cryostat will be performed in Phase-I of this STTR. A prototypical magnet with its charging unit will be built and tested during Phase-II.

7. Potential Commercial Application(s)(Limit 200 words)

Enabling technology for commercially competitive space launch infrastructure. The potential applications include the various proposed maglev systems currently under construction or development, military launch systems, like catapults for aircraft carriers, magnetically levitated mining vehicles, and even amusemenet rides.

The proposed application of cable-in-conduit conductor could have a significant impact on magnet designs for industrial applications of superconductivity. In particular, high operational currents, could benefit magnetic separation, superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES), and superconducting transformers for commercial applications.