In Chapter Fifteen (Space Is The Place) I introduced the idea of The Fling without bothering to explain it, hoping the way the chapter unfolds how it operates will be obvious to the alert reader who knows a wee bit of space travel concepts.
What is the deal with that thing? Well, here’s the problem for your intrepid space explorer. If you’re relying on rocket fuel for go-juice the only place you can really fill up your ship is Earth. Once you’ve left the surface and are in orbit, on the moon or on Mars, better hope you took enough with you. That’s not 100% true, there are plans to make fuel on Mars, but it’s not like you can just fill up the tank when you want to like you can on Earth. So what to do? Avoid using fuel!
“The Fling” is a kinetic launch system that quite literally throws the cargo into the sky. A system based on this concept is close to operation, right here on Earth in 2022. You can read about it here. There is a big difference between what they are using at Bradbury Base in the novel and what SpinLaunch is currently doing. The Fling at Bradbury Base is essentially a very large railgun, using magnetic fields to launch the cargo into space, like firing something from a cannon only without the gunpowder.
Why would this be good? Well, gravity on Mars is less than half of Earth and there’s far less atmosphere to fight. From the fuel perspective, you can get to orbit for free, then use the fuel you’re carrying for other things, like docking with something like Phobos station and eventual re-entry.
Solve the fuel shortage problem, by avoiding using fuel!
Keep in mind this novel is meant for humor, entertainment and social commentary. The “science” parts are like horseshoes and hand-grenades, only expected to be “close enough”. If you’d like to calculate how many joules of energy it would take to throw a cargo into space from the surface of Mars and what the magnets would be like, send me your figures and I’ll put them here.