Using only existing technologies, can we shoot 4-5 kg bullets into a stable, specific Low Earth Orbit (at least 1000 km)?

The bullets don't contain "hardware" such as electronics, so acceleration is no issue. Coilgun and other form of electromagnetic acceleration are also allowed; other tricks like shooting from a mountaintop are also likely ok.

  • $\begingroup$ The ISS is only 408 km above earth. It would seem 1,000 km is perhaps overkill. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


You are requesting a stable LEO orbit.

If you give a push to a body, then the new orbit would pass through the point where the push was made. If you shoot a bullet from within the atmosphere then its orbit would pass through the atmosphere and it would fall quickly. So any space-gun projectile must have an engine that would correct its orbit, raising it above the atmosphere. If your gun does not have any hardware, then it cannot change its velocity and obtain stable orbit.


We've been there, done that, spent millions, abandoned it. HARP

Even Saddam Hussein got in on the action.

See Project Babylon

Didn't quite get a bullet into low earth orbit, however. An assassination and a Gulf War stoped it.

However, what you need is answered by

As a result, all payloads intended to reach a closed orbit need at least to perform some sort of course correction to create another orbit that does not intersect the planet's surface. A rocket can be used for additional boost as planned in both Project HARP and the Quicklaunch project

So the long and the short of it is, no you can not get a projectile into stable low earth orbit using just a gun.

The gun still exists, if you want to give it a shot.

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    $\begingroup$ I saw what you did there..... $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ As of now your answer is a collection of links glued together by prose. If the links ever go down or change your answer will be useless. You should at least quote the necessary info from the links. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ @ dot_Sp0T I believe my quote gives all the answer that is necessary - a bullet fired from a gun can never change from a parabolic trajectory to earth orbit without some course correction. Basic physics and math. Even Newton new it. Even if the links go down, that quote would still be there, and it would still be the only answer necessary. But if you want the other information, then HARP and Project Babylon are the only terms you need to do the research, the actual links are given for convenience (read ' lazy people') and are superfluous. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThyme then this becomes a question of formatting, namely why would you position, as I paraphrase from your comment, unnecessary links before the actual information that answers the question instead of adding it at the end as would be expected. From the formatting of your answer it seemed necessary to read up on these subjects (they being mentioned explicitely; e.g. with a 'See link') - thus I commented and explained. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning M. Wow. I suppose if you were Daniel Boone, you could. But the atmospheric distortion on the way up makes it an improbable shot. HARP encased the electronics in solid resin (it worked), and proposed a three stage rocket system. They had success with igniting the second stage of a two stage system. The second stage ignited well after the initial shot. I think you are just going to have to bite the bullet on this one and add electronics. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 22:44

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