For years, NASA has been researching the possibility of using the high speeds of maglev transportation to fling spacecraft into low Earth orbit. "It would really open up space to human exploration and commercialization," Powell says. "It's something we can't do now because it's too expensive." Powell and his colleagues have proposed two generations of space launching technology. The first is a cargo-only launch track that could be built into a mountainside to reach a height of 20,000 feet. Magnets could allow a spacecraft traveling along the track to reach speeds around 18,000 miles per hour—enough to fly into space. And that's just the first generation.