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The U.S. continues a broad spectrum of research to provide the scientific underpinnings for electromagnetic launch. These efforts include fundamental research on materials, properties of materials subjected to electromagnetic and thermal stresses, railguns (particularly the rail-armature sliding interface), coilguns, and energy storage and power conditioning. There is also broad and growing interest in novel applications of electromagnetic launch. For example, a supersonic beam of neon atoms have been slowed and stopped, opening the door for investigating the atomic and molecular properties of most of the periodic table of atoms and certain molecules. Research is continuing on magnetic brakes and the more traditional research on the launch of materials to hypervelocities. More recently, the launching of materials into the Earth's orbit or even deeper in space is obtaining renewed interest. Consequently, some attention is being given to the types of materials of projectiles for hypersonic flight. The U.S. Navy has initiated new multidisciplinary university research teams including physics, chemistry, and materials science to develop new diagnostic tools and to provide a more detailed examination of the rail-armature interface. Most significantly, the U.S. Army has elevated its emphasis from electromagnetic launch science and technology development to the operational consequences of long-range precision fires. In concert with the recent U.S. Navy efforts on long-range fires, it is anticipated that the pull of these applications will enable even greater advances in the science and technology of electromagnetic launch.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2009