This is Science Today. The first practical and inexpensive
way to develop a magnetic levitation, or maglev,
train system has attracted the attention of NASA
engineers. Physicist Richard Post of the Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory says his maglev train
model, which uses a unique array of permanent magnets
to cause trains to levitate over railways, led to
a contract with NASA to build a higher speed model.
What they'd like to do in the long term is to build
a system like this to help launch rockets. So you'd
build it up the side of a mountain and get the rockets
up to maybe Mach point 8 - almost the speed of sound
- before you fire the rockets off and then take
off from that initial speed.
Such a maglev system would save NASA thirty to forty
percent of their rocket fuel.
The whole objective is to reduce the cost of launching
rockets. A rocket is terribly inefficient when it's
first lifting off the pad and this obviates that
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.