I am not sure what to make of the video above. The cannon launcher seems like a bit of a joke, especially in the backyard setting, but it could also work. And the inventor is asking for money to make it all a reality (see last paragraph of this post for details and link).
It’s almost straight out of Jules Verne: a cannon to launch spacecraft into space. I think something like this has been attempted before. But I’ll post the link to this article from the DailyMail, anyway. I’ve not heard of propellant in a cannon sequenced the way the inventor, Mr. Richard Graf, says he’s done it (watch the video for those details). The fact that the launcher is mobile also makes it more interesting.
The thing is, this cannon launcher sort of dovetails with what most other “professionals” are talking about for a robust and flexible launch infrastructure. The US has set up a specialized, but expensive, Operationally Responsive Space program for this kind of thing–but it’s been fairly slow going for the program. If something like this cannon exists and works, then that means a very inexpensive alternative for launching small, inexpensive, but capable satellites within 24 hours. They could be launched from anywhere, since it’s so mobile.
Of course, this sort of “backyard tech” means it’s also fairly inexpensive for other groups to get satellites of all sorts out into space, too (good or bad). I’m hoping this cannon is a “real” option. It would help bring down the costs of space access and force the bigger companies to up their game (while lowering costs–does this kind of system sound familiar?).
Anyway, if you’re interested in helping out with this sort of thing, then go to Mr. Graf’s Kickstarter page. He’s asking for $65,000 (Canadian) to help him make this a reality. He has 22 days left (as of 7 Feb 2014), and has raised only about $1300 so far. Every little bit helps, so if you have the means and the passion, help a Canadian brother out. Of course, success is not guaranteed.