A method was developed of lowering the cost of planetary exploration missions by using an electromagnetic propulsion/launcher, rather than a chemical-fueled rocket for propulsion. An electromagnetic launcher (EML) based at the International Space Station (ISS) would be used to launch small science payloads to the Moon and near Earth asteroids (NEAs) for the science and exploration missions. An ISS-based electromagnetic launcher could also inject science payloads into orbits around the Earth and perhaps to Mars.
The EML would replace rocket technology for certain missions. The EML is a high-energy system that uses electricity rather than propellant to accelerate payloads to high velocities. The most common type of EML is the rail gun. Other types are possible, e.g., a coil gun, also known as a Gauss gun or mass driver. The EML could also “drop” science payloads into the Earth’s upper atmosphere for science investigations.