Just a random question that popped into my ghead while doing a boring job.
Is it possible to launch a missile at supersonic speeds using just mechanical (rather than chemical, nuclear, magnetic etc) energy? I know the question is somewhat vague because there’s no fine line between the types of energy, but basically I want to know if I can make an arrow travel at mach 1.1 using just springs, levers, pulleys etc?
My initial thought was that it’s impossible. A force can only travel along a spring or lever at the speed of sound in that material, so any prejectile can’t be going much faster than the speed of sound in air, and after factoring in friction, inertia etc. it’s going to be slower.
But then I thought that if I rigged up a sled, and put a catpault on the sled, and put a bow on the catapault arm etc. then I could overcome that problem by adding the speed of each component with some clever timing.
So any engineers or physicist got any idea? Has anyone ever manged to get a missile to go FTS uisng just mechanical energy? Could it be done?