Space Elevator Systems Architecture

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However, as you move down the elevator, gravity gets stronger and the centrifugal acceleration gets less; you are moving slower as you get closer to the Earth. The elevator structure also sees this difference as weight it needs to support with more structure. Something dangling from the rearview mirror will hang at a backward angle from the combined force. On a space elevator, gravity pulls you down, and centrifugal acceleration pulls you up, and your apparent weight is the difference. In other words, that hanging elevator structure has to support more and more weight from everything below as you go up from near the ground to synchronous orbit.

That includes the structure itself, and any contents like cargo capsules, rails, power cables, or aircraft warning lights. If we use the strongest available material, currently carbon fiber, then the elevator must get thicker as we go up, to support all the weight below that height. How much thicker it needs to get can be found from two properties of any material: the strength and the density. Strength tells you how much you need to support a given load, and density tells you how much more load is added by the material itself.

Therefore the cable mass will be the factor e You can never ship enough cargo to justify such a massive cable. There are also carbon nanotubes. But no one has manufactured a carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. Carbon nanotubes have extraordinary theoretical strength, but in reality it cannot reach those levels of strength because of defects.

Building a space elevator starts with a lunar elevator by

A study predicts an actual cable strength, allowing for design margins, of km, or about 4 times better than current carbon fiber. A cable mass of 22, times the cargo is a vast improvement over a million trillion, but is still not low enough to make a viable elevator.

For the moment, we will ignore that today we can only make carbon nanotubes in microscopic fibers. We assume that researchers will eventually be able to make it in enough quantity and cable thickness for the elevator structure. The mass ratio of the cable to the cargo capsule it carries is fixed for a given material and design. If you have multiple cargo capsules in transit, you also need multiple amounts of cable to support them.

For simplicity, we can then consider one capsule and one unit of cable. There has to be some kind of mechanism to raise the capsules from the ground to synchronous altitude 35, km. Conventional elevators are raised by cables, but that is too slow to consider.

Space Elevator Papers, Presentations and Books

The fastest existing elevator, in the Taipei tower, would take 24 days. That would get you to the top in 60 hours. To deliver 22, cargoes—or about as much mass as the elevator cable itself—would then take years. If we started today, it would take until to deliver its own weight. Since you have to launch the space elevator itself into space, you want it to deliver more cargo than its own mass. Otherwise why not skip the elevator and just launch the cargo directly?

So if it takes years to do this, your rate of return is a 0. But what about making them smaller?

Legal aspects of the Space Elevator Transportation System

The original idea for a space elevator, from the ground to synchronous orbit as one giant structure, was first described by rocketry pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in It was not intended to be a practical design. As an analogy, imagine a tractor trailer big truck that can deliver 3 pounds every 2.

Space Engineers - Solar Powered Space Elevator / Orbital Tether (And An Automated Version)

Not very useful, is it? The larger lesson here is that any Google X idea that hinges on some kind of new development in material science cannot proceed. But there is no way to accurately predict when a new material or manufacturing process will be invented. It could happen next year, or it could be years.

This is one place where the community of space elevator researchers diverges from the Google X folks. The Moon and Mars have smaller gravity wells, so we can consider one-piece solutions, but for Earth we need to break it up into smaller pieces and offload some of the work to a rocket. We have more control over the viability of a space elevator than we think, by questioning the two assumptions above. You see, conventional rockets also have a mass ratio problem.

ISEC also needs to get those industry players to send their very proprietary Requests for Information to us. We also need these same industry players to accept us as business partners … soon. It is time to start Verification and Validation activities! Skip to content. Why do I want a Space Elevator? Michael A. The Apex Anchor will be a challenge. Its role is key to the building of the Space Elevator, but it is neither a technological nor engineering obstacle.

The Tether material is the pacing item for the development of the Space Elevator.

Cognitive Psychology

The other voiced challenge to the Space Elevator Transportation System faces is collision avoidance. ISEC, and others, have studied the issue, and collisions are much less likely than most think. Even so, the Space Elevator Transportation System will be advised of approaching debris; even debris smaller than a pebble — in sufficient time to avoid it.