New Space and Tech

Canadian Mini Space Elevator Paper Available

By Marc Boucher
April 8, 2013
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Quine_Space_Elevator.gifThe August issue of Acta Astronautica is now available and includes a paper by Brendan Quine, professor of space physics and engineering in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, and his team. The paper is titled: A free-standing space elevator structure: A practical alternative to the space tether. It’s also available as a download (PDF) from Elsevier Science Direct for $31.50 US.

I have not had the chance to read the paper yet but I will later this week but the premise is interesting. Instead of manufacturing a complete Space Elevator that stretches 100,000 km, the paper discusses a 20 km elevator that is constructed at a 5 km altitude.

Space tethers have been investigated widely as a means to provide easy access to space. However, the design and construction of such a device presents significant unsolved technological challenges. We propose an alternative approach to the construction of a space elevator that utilizes a free-standing core structure to provide access to near space regions and to reduce the cost of space launch. The structure is comprised of pneumatically inflated sections that are actively controlled and stabilized to balance external disturbances and support the structure. Such an approach avoids problems associated with a space tether including material strength constraints, the need for in-space construction, the fabrication of a cable at least 50,000 km in length, and the ageing and meteorite-damage effects associated with a thin tether or cable in Low Earth Orbit. An example structure constructed at 5 km altitude and extending to 20 km above sea level is described. The stability and control of the structure, methods for construction and its utility for space launch and other applications are discussed.


A free-standing space elevator structure: A practical alternative to the space tether
Acta Astronautica
, Volume 65, Issue 3-4, August 2009, Pages 365-375

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