reading something about Reagan's Star Wars plans, and how one of the rail guns uses was envisaged to be shooting down enemy satellites
Hypervelocity Rail Gun (CHECMATE)Research out of hypervelocity railgun technology was done to build an information base about rail guns so that SDI planners would know how to apply the technology to the proposed defense system. The SDI rail gun investigation, called the Compact High Energy Capacitor Module Advanced Technology Experiment (CHECMATE), had been able to fire two projectiles per day during the initiative. This represented a significant improvement over previous efforts, which were only able to achieve about one shot per month. Hypervelocity rail guns are, at least conceptually, an attractive alternative to a space-based defense system because of their envisioned ability to quickly shoot at many targets. Also, since only the projectile leaves the gun, a railgun system can potentially fire many times before needing to be resupplied.
A hypervelocity railgun works very much like a particle accelerator insofar as it converts electrical potential energy into kinetic energy imparted to the projectile. A conductive pellet (the projectile) is attracted down the rails by electric current flowing through a rail. Through the magnetic forces that this system achieves, a force is exerted on the projectile moving it down the rail. Railguns can generate muzzle-velocities in excess of 2.4 kilometers per second. At this velocity, even a rifle-bullet sized projectile will penetrate the front armor of a main battle tank, let alone a thinly protected missile guidance system.
Rail guns face a host of technical challenges before they will be ready for battlefield deployment. First, the rails guiding the projectile must carry very high power. Each firing of the railgun produces tremendous current flow (almost half a million amperes) through the rails, causing rapid erosion of the rail's surfaces (through ohmic heating, and even vaporization of the rail-surface.) Early prototypes were essentially single-use weapons, requiring complete replacement of the rails after each firing. Another challenge with the rail gun system is projectile survivability. The projectiles experience acceleration force in excess of 100,000 g. In order to be effective, the fired projectile must first survive the mechanical stress of firing, the thermal effects of a trip through the atmosphere at many times the speed of sound, and then the subsequent impact with the target. In-flight guidance, if implemented, would require the onboard guidance system to be built to the same standard of sturdiness as the main mass of the projectile.
In addition to being considered for destroying ballistic missile threats, rail guns were also being planned for service in space platform (sensor and battle station) defense. This potential role reflected defense planner expectations that the rail guns of the future would be capable of not only rapid fire, but also of multiple firings (on the order of tens to hundreds of shots).
You were saying.
, and ARE
still testing this though I think the ideaology has shifted from one of Anti-Ballistic use to one of Long-Range Artillery/Missile Interceptor.
the real advantage to a Rail gun isn't that you could easily fire a nuke at hypersonic speeds from within a few miles of a coast line at a target.
Would probably detonate in the chamber from the excessive forces/heat put on the warhead at launch. also, and I'm not sure so ask an Engineer, i would think the electro-magnetic current used to accelerate the prjectile to the insane speed it travels migth detonate it as well......maybe?