Japan’s maglev train is the fastest train in the world. The maglev train hits a top speed of 603 km/h (375 mph).
But pushing the limits of imagination out of this world, Charles Bombardier, a Montreal-based innovator, has envisioned a space train that can ferry passengers and goods between planets in a matter of hours.
The space train, called Solar Express, will use the force of gravity to slingshot around planets at approximately 1% the speed of light, or 3,000 km per second. That means a trip from Earth to the moon will take just 213 minutes and from Earth to Mars will take about 37 hours. In comparison, NASA takes about 260 days to get to Mars using current technology.
How does the Solar Express work?
The Solar Express is a series of six cylinders aligned together in a straight line. Each cylinder would be about 50 meters in length.
The Solar Express will use rocket boosters for launch, which is the most expensive aspect of space travel. It will carry a small amount to fuel for course adjustment during flight.
Bombardier explains, “Huge solar arrays located along the train’s path could be used to capture solar energy and transfer it by laser to supercapacitors. Water harvested from comets or small moons would be used for humans living on the train and transported to other stations.”
“The harvested water could also be used to create hydrogen and propellant, but the main propulsion system should take the form of ion thrusters.”
However, once the train reached its cruising speed, its energy consumption would be minimal. That’s the idea behind the Solar Express concept.
While it’s just a concept as of now, there are lots of technical questions that scientists are still figuring out. Hopefully, they will have answers someday.