. The L5 Development Group is a privately funded, for profit, commercial space exploration and development program. The L5 Development Group - Solutions in Space Monorails  


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Another transportation system under consideration by FKE is the development of a network providing monorail service. By putting a pylon down every few hundred feet in the medians of the interstate highway system, an extensive coverage could be supplied without using more land than is presently allocated to transportation. Operated at speeds of two hundred fifty miles per hour, monorails would provide rapid, efficient transportation between cities, often taking less time for door-to-door travel than air service could. Serving the surrounding communities would also be quite plausible, but the trains would not be operated at the high velocities of the express routes. By building its stations, and operating its trains, several stories above the ground, monorails would be able to offer their passengers a panoramic view of the community, and to serve the community's transportation needs, without unnecessary intrusion on their existing systems.

As an added benefit to developing the monorail network, the magnetic levitation and propulsion systems on which the transportation system is based are planned to be used in the company's launch system: To provide its rockets with their initial boost toward orbit, FKE is planning to build a large catapult, sloping up a mountain. Using mammoth ground-based generators, an electromechanical propulsion system would start the spacecraft moving, and boost it through the hardest part of its flight - the lower atmosphere. By the time the vessel reaches the top of the track, it would be traveling several hundred miles per hour, receiving a final boost from the ground as it is thrown into the air by the carriage supporting it. Since a launch using this type of system would put a tremendous load on the electrical system driving it, a form of energy storage would be needed that can supply the surge currents required. The monorail cars will contain supeconducting coils to supply their propulsion and lift; the same technology could also be used for energy storage, and would meet the needs of the launch system. In addition to being a more efficient use of resources, and less environmentally damaging, this scheme would also result in being able to launch either a larger payload or a smaller rocket, with equal ease, than the present rocket-only system does.

An additional incentive to build the monorail system is that it is also being planned as the primary transport system to be used inside the space colonies. Any terrestrial experience with the transport medium, therefore, will directly be applicable to the design work for the colonies.

Using the technologies developed for the linear motor catapult, and also derived from current magnetic levitation research, an inter-city network of monorails could be constructed. Hanging from pylons placed in the medians of the interstate highway system, these high-tech trains could provide fast, efficient transportation, and relieve a significant part of the rush-hour traffic that cripples our transportation systems twice a day.

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