This Nazi-Style Mega Cannon Is Aiming For Cheap Space Launches At $10/kg

In the ongoing pursuit to drive down the astronomical costs of space launches, a novel approach has emerged that might just yeet payloads into orbit at unprecedentedly affordable rates. Meet Longshot, a startup with a unique proposition: a six-mile long concrete cannon capable of propelling launch vehicles to Mach 30 in a mere second. While it might sound like science fiction, the concept draws on historical and innovative principles to revolutionize space access.

The visionary behind Longshot, CEO Mike Grace, has a bold perspective on the existing rocket-based approach to space launches. He believes that the dominance of rockets was partly due to their role as military weapons, inadvertently sidelining potentially cheaper orbital launch technologies. This has led Longshot to explore alternative methods for sending payloads into space.

The company’s proposed solution involves harnessing the power of a massive multi-stage pneumatic cannon. This design is reminiscent of 19th-century “accelerating guns,” which used staged explosions to propel projectiles with increasing force. Longshot aims to adapt this concept for non-military purposes, utilizing compressed air to push a specialized projectile into orbit at extraordinary velocities.

Unlike traditional rockets, the Longshot system avoids combustion, opting for compressed air propulsion. The innovative design incorporates a long, tapered tail on the projectile that gets squeezed from the sides, producing forward momentum at speeds comparable to orbital velocities. This approach is expected to be gentler on the barrel and enable rapid reloading through compressor pumps.

While Longshot’s proposal sounds audacious, it draws inspiration from historical precedents. Project HARP, an initiative from the 1960s, demonstrated the feasibility of using large cannons to launch payloads into space. Although Project HARP faced various challenges and was eventually abandoned, it serves as evidence that the concept is not entirely unfounded.

Despite its promise, the Longshot concept faces a multitude of engineering challenges. These include addressing the environmental impact of the hypersonic boom generated during each launch, designing launch vehicles capable of withstanding extreme forces and ablative effects, and finding suitable locations for the proposed massive cannons.

While it remains to be seen whether Longshot’s audacious project will succeed, its innovative thinking and unconventional approach have caught the attention of investors like Sam Altman. The company is already targeting a niche market in hypersonic vehicle testing as a stepping stone to its grand ambitions of delivering cheaper, more efficient orbital access.

In the realm of space exploration, bold ideas have often propelled humanity to new frontiers. Longshot’s mega cannon, though a long shot itself, exemplifies the spirit of innovation that continues to drive the space industry towards more affordable and accessible space travel.

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