This is a bit hard for me to put into to words, but it is an idea I have been working on for a few days, with input from a few other people. I have actually brought up part of this in a previous question that I asked.
The scenario is a large space station with rings that are not connected to the station by spokes, but by a magnetic rails similar to a maglev train. The goal of the scenario is to sabotage the station in a way that is both a complete catastrophe, but does not destroy the station entirely (some destruction is acceptable).
Excerpt from novel: "The station was essentially a stationary drum encased by four, counter-rotating rings. What could be considered the base of the drum faced away from the planet and acted much like a massive satellite dish. The other end of the station directly transmitted information to and from the surface. Rotating at just over 280 kilometers per hour, the rings were suspended and propelled around the station by magnetic rails."
If the saboteur were to cause the magnetic rails to lock up in a sort of emergency braking system, what sort of forces would be excerted on the station? How would I calculate them? What sort of effects might I see?
Further station details:
- Inner ring radius: 620m
- Outer ring radius: 650m
- Inner rotation speed: 280 km/h
- Rotations per minute: Approx. 1.2
Assuming a magnetic braking system similar to Linear Eddy-current Brakes found on high speed trains, I'm unsure of how to calculate what sort of deceleration I would see. On the other hand, if the momentum throwing all of the ring's occupants to the wall produces too much force for survival, I would need to know the maximum (reasonable) impact force survivable. I would then need to work backwards from that value for an appropriate breaking speed.
On top of all of that, I am aware that Eddy-current Brakes produce quite a bit of heat to conserve the loss of kinetic energy. I need to know how to calculate that heat, but can't seem to find any equations relating to it directly. This could be another major factor because I don't want to cook everyone inside, but I wouldn't mind melting or warping the magnetic rails.
Another factor to consider is that the sudden slowing of one ring will throw off the equilibrium of the station since the counter rotating rings are now at a 2:1 ratio instead of 2:2. I suspect this would force the entire station into an incalculable spin, simply because I don't have any really masses or measurements for torque. That said, if someone disagrees on that I would love to know how badly these people are screwed.
For anyone interested, here is a link to an early version of the chapter. It has been edited a few times and some parts have been changed to improve the flow of the story, but it's roughly the same for the most part. The part where this event takes place is at the end of the chapter, but please read the whole thing and let me know what you think.