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B. Magnetic Levitation Catches NASA's Eye

Narrator: 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.

Post: 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.

Narrator: Such a maglev system would save NASA thirty to forty percent of their rocket fuel.

Post: 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 problem largely.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.