Using Electromagnetic Railguns to Launch Small Satellites to Low Earth Orbit

Without the need for dangerous explosives storage and handling, the Electromagnetic Railgun can potentially reach targets 20 times farther than conventional weapons. (Photo Credit: Naval Research Laboratory).
Without the need for dangerous explosives storage and handling, the Electromagnetic Railgun can potentially reach targets 20 times farther than conventional weapons. (Photo Credit: Naval Research Laboratory).

Posted on May 27, 2020 | Completed on March 31, 2020 | By: Defense Systems Information Analysis Center (DSIAC)

What modeling or testing has been done on using electromagnetic railguns (EMRGs) for launching low Earth orbit (LEO) projectiles?

DSIAC was asked for information pertaining to the capability of current EMRG systems to support the launch of objects, mainly SmallSats in the CubeSat/nanosatellite to femtosatellite class. Their masses must range from 0.01 kg to 10 kg, from the Earth to LEO and from the Moon’s surface to a Mars transfer orbit. A DSIAC subject matter expert in propulsion systems at The Johns Hopkins University Energetics Research Group provided commentary on the capabilities and issues with using an EMRG in such a manner and reference documents.

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