We all have this deep desire to go to Mars – admit it. But most of us just don’t get the opportunity to hop onto a space shuttle and fly away to another planet. *sigh*
But don’t lose hope just yet! Charles Bombardier, an innovator in Montreal, has formulated a hypothetical space train known as the Solar Express that has the ability to transport people between planets faster than any other system present!
It is just a concept for now, but dreams change into reality all the time so what’s the harm in betting on this one. And anyway, Bombardier and his team seem optimistic. According to them, the Solar Express will be able to travel at approximately 1 percent of speed of light which turns out to be 3000 KILOMETERS per SECOND! Yep – that’s quite hard to digest. This speed means that one can travel from Earth to Mars in less than two days – yep, even harder to digest!
According to 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.’
Let’s talking about its working principle. The Solar Express will consist of a series of aligned cylinders of length 164 feet. And six of these cylinders will be connected together in a straight line – just as train cars. At the time of launch, the Express will make use of the rocket boosters while conserving some fuel on reserve. After the initial launch, the Solar Express will move around celestial bodies to gain momentum without any fuel consumption. Bombardier explained that, ‘Huge solar arrays located along the train’s path could be used to capture solar energy and transfer it by laser to supercapacitors. 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 ion thrusters.’
Interestingly, the space train will never stop. So, how will the people get off? Good question. Small crafts would move towards the train and attach themselves to it as it will orbit a planet. This way, those on the Solar Express can gather supplies and get off.
There are a lot of complexities and unknowns but the potential is unreal. Just to prove what a gamechanger this space train will be (if it ever turns into reality), imagine a 12 years’ journey to Neptune turn into an 18 days’ drive! Sounds unbelievable to be honest, but then again, nothing’s impossible. *fingers crossed*