Startram is a superconducting maglev launch system, which means it requires neither rockets nor propellant to launch payload into space. Drs George Maise along with James Powell, invented the Startram orbital launch system.
The Startram system would levitate a spacecraft magnetically to avoid friction, while the same magnetic system is used to accelerate the spacecraft to orbital velocities (9 km/sec -5.6 miles/s).
The cost today of inserting a kilogram (2.2 lb) of cargo by rocket into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is about US$10,000 and for a manned launch to LEO costs about $100,000 per kilogram of passenger.
The Startram vacuum tube must be elevated to an altitude of about 20 km (12 miles). Powell and Maise realized that the tube witch already contains superconducting cable and rings, could be magnetically levitated to this altitude.
The system has passed Sandia National Laboratories investigations, for finding faults of proposed concepts.
The project would take 20 years to build, if approved and would cost up to $60 billion, much cheaper than the $170 billion Space Shuttle program, and $150 billion ISS.
Maglev is an existing technology in use in several countries around the world today.
The Japanese maglev program shown here is a superconducting maglev system which has evolved from the original designs of Drs. James Powell and Gordon Danby. The MLX01 vehicle test track has carried tens of thousands of passengers for many years.