We already talked about NASA's crazy combination of railguns and space shuttles to achieve escape velocity. Well, it turns out the space agency isn't the only one tinkering with the idea. With NASA's super-electromagnetic shuttle cannon is still in the planning stages, the US Navy went ahead and blasted an F/A-18E Super Hornet into liftoff with its Electromagnetical Aviation Launch System, or EMALS.
It's not surprising that the Navy beat NASA to the electromagnetic punch, given that they already own the most powerful railgun on the planet right now. EMALS is a different beast, though. It's not trying to fire its payload at a death-dealing Mach 8; instead, it packs just enough punch to bring a 100,000 pound jet to a speed of 240 miles per hour and up into the air.
This test is a major success for the Navy in more ways than one. Not only does the system provide them with a quick launch system that lets aircraft take off from shorter runway spaces, but it's also smaller and more effective than the alternative steam turbine slingshots. Expect to see EMALS implemented on all carriers moving forward, beginning with the USS Gerald Ford, which is set to deploy this 2015.