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Navy Fires 1000th Shot from Railgun Experiment

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 03:09PM

In March of 2007, the Office of Naval Research fired the first shot from a subscale experimental railgun at the Naval Research Laboratory. On Monday, October 31st, the researchers fired the 1000th shot from the six meter long, 5 cm diameter device. A railgun is an electromagnetic weapon that uses powerful EM fields to accelerate a mass to high velocity. The 1000th slug reached speeds as high as 2-2.5 Km/s, or roughly 4,500-5,600 mph. This puts the total energy at 1.5 megajoules; one megajoule being equivalent to a one ton car getting into a crash at 100 mph. The purpose of the experiment is to determine the best barrel design and materials to be used in larger railgun experiments, and ultimately weaponized railguns. The heat and forces a railgun would have to endure are quite extreme, and after every test fire, this experimental device is taken apart and put under a microscope to determine how the materials are enduring the conditions. Ultimately the researchers want to design a railgun for deployment on ships with energy levels reaching as high as 64 Mj and a range of 220 nautical miles, or 253 miles. That is greater than the distance between New York City and Washington DC.

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