Going up! Japan to test mini 'space elevator'

September 4, 2018
The space-elevator test equipment will be launched on a Japanese H-2B rocket next week

A Japanese team working to develop a "space elevator" will conduct a first trial this month, blasting off a miniature version on satellites to test the technology.

The test equipment, produced by researchers at Shizuoka University, will hitch a ride on an H-2B rocket being launched by Japan's agency from southern island of Tanegashima next week.

The test involves a miniature elevator stand-in—a box just six centimetres (2.4 inches) long, three centimetres wide, and three centimetres high.

If all goes well, it will provide proof of concept by moving along a 10-metre cable suspended in space between two that will keep it taut.

The mini-elevator will travel along the cable from a container in one of the satellites.

"It's going to be the world's first experiment to elevator movement in space," a university spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.

The movement of the motorised "elevator" box will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.

It is still a far cry from the ultimate beam-me-up goals of the project, which builds on a long history of "space " dreams.

The idea was first proposed in 1895 by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky after he saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and was revisited nearly a century later in a novel by Arthur C. Clarke.

But technical barriers have always kept plans stuck at the conceptual stage.

Japanese construction firm Obayashi, which is collaborating with the Shizuoka university project, is also exploring other ways to build its own to put tourists in space in 2050.

The company has said it could use carbon nanotube technology, which is more than 20 times stronger than steel, to build a lift shaft 96,000 kilometres (roughly 60,000 miles) above the Earth.

Explore further: Going up: Japan builder eyes space elevator

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earthling98765
1 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2018
it will snarl, snap, or short-circuit. Space has static electrical charges that haven't been calculated yet. The US Space Shuttle tried two cable experiments and both failed - for unknown reasons...unknown because not definitively determined...not definitively determined because not measured...but really WEIRD reasons...a cable just exploding on contact with the side of the cargo bay, or snapping due to irregular unexpected whip-like motion. Japan is dipping its foot into the same pond with this experiment. gl.
James_Kent
1 / 5 (5) Sep 04, 2018
I think I have got the idea now. First we orbit a satellite with a tether on it that reaches the earth's surface. A heavy weight is then attached to the tether and pulls itself up INSTEAD of rockets pushing it up. ONLY WE NEED ROCKET MOTORS AND FUEL ON THE SATELLITE TO KEEP IT FROM BEING PULLED DOWN.

Now that is sheer genius.
Yukiko
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
How much is this 'elevator' going to cost and who will foot the bill? A 96,000k structure may look impressive but is going to cost a pretty penny.
Misquoth
2 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
"WE NEED ROCKET MOTORS AND FUEL ON THE SATELLITE TO KEEP IT FROM BEING PULLED DOWN."

No, the setup will be kept in place by a balance of the centripetal vs centrifugal forces on the top and bottom satellites. adjustment rockets would probably be used just to adjust and maintain orbits. In the final version it will be the centrifugal force of the orbiting part of the elevator, while the bottom is physically attached to the earth (or I suppose it could also just be a large platform unattached to the surface with the ability to have the elevator itself not have a permanent geological location. In this way you could also just get on and hang around while the entire lower substation moves to a different Earth location. You could use this for tourism for just the bottom of the elevator.
JuanitaBroaddricksUpperLip
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2018
What happens when the elevator gets stuck on floor Stratosphere? Can't wait to hear the elevator music.
Tu Poa
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
No rockets will be need. We will simply speed up the Earths rotation and centrifugal force will hold it in place or maybe sling it out of orbit ( all exciting stuff ); it will also compress the work week, cause many people to rejoice at the weight loss
FitzerMA
4.5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
This is the Space Story of the century. There will soon (30 years) be a Space Elevator; and eventually several of them ... and even more around the solar system. Rockets are needed for guidance & control only. Landing on other planets or on resource rich asteroids is within reach!!!
JD00009
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2018
Yes, you need rockets and fuel (and oxidizer). It's called the law of conservation of energy. A space elevator does not produce energy and if you want to lift an object (say 50 tons) 400 km up (where the ISS is) and accelerate it to 27,000 km/h (orbital velocity) then you need to provide the energy from somewhere. If you don't, your counterweight will "fall" down, and the whole thing will collapse. YOU CAN'T GET SOMETHING FROM NOTHING.
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (7) Sep 04, 2018
How much is this 'elevator' going to cost and who will foot the bill? A 96,000k structure may look impressive but is going to cost a pretty penny.

Considering the cost of rocket launches (particularly to GEO and beyond): Even if it's very expensive it'll pay for itself in no time.

The issue I have with it is that it extends within the cloud of space garbage we have floating around out there without a good means of moving it out of the way (like they do with the ISS). If this thing gets cut then that'll not be a good day.

mynoob
3 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
Instead of pulling it up why not try swinging as a pendulum, building up the momentum as you try to reach apogee point. This way you can cut costs in half because you will swing over as opposed to lift over. When elevator reaches upper most point you would hold it there with rocket engines.
mynoob
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2018
And then the next "elevator" would pick it up, and the next.
szore88
2.8 / 5 (5) Sep 04, 2018
The goal of a space elevator is NOT to put tourists in space.
lunarguy
4.5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
Space elevators don't need to be held up by rockets, they are hovering over the equator in a geosynchronous orbit and reach from ~surface to beyond the geosat orbit. As long as the mass at the space end is enough (and that is huge), it can balance. Carrying cargo or people up the elevator takes time because it has to be slow. I have seen them propose laser beam powered or solar powered "elevator cars" that go up and down over _weeks_. Of course, they pass through the radiation belt so you need a lot of shielding. And yes, debris is the killer in my mind to this whole concept. Debris is moving at huge speeds at every which angle and altitude and most is not controllable (like spent rocket bodies) and the elevator cannot be moved. Either they clean up Earth orbit of all debris first or they should start at the Moon where it is pretty empty and has no radiation belt.
SuperShann
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
It doesn't matter how much it costs. We'll just get Mexico to pay for it.
Old_C_Code
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
They go the speed of the satellite carrying them, duh.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Sep 04, 2018
The idea of a space elevator is a pipe dream. Will not happen as has been shown with the previous tether experiments. The potential difference of Earth's electric field is first and foremost. A lightning rod straight to space plasma to boot. If anybody would like to doubt this, go fly a kite in the next thunderstorm.
TrollBane
3 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
Isaac Arthur on orbital rings and space elevators: https://www.youtu...DwY-LT_o
TrollBane
3 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2018
Better yet, Isaac's Upward Bound series: https://www.youtu...TuryTwlU
Old_C_Code
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2018
cantdrive85: the tether goes above the satellite, and not far. But you're right, a cable running from ground to space is a different story, a lightning rod yes. But that's not what this is.
James_Kent
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 04, 2018
A perfect balance of centripetal force, perfectly located at a perfect geosynchronous distance from the earth.

So, if your load increases the perfect centripetal distance must grow and your orbital speed must change accordingly, with what ? Unicorn dust ? Rocket fuel and motors must be used to "adjust".

And don't forget, the load climbing up the tether is in orbit too. Every meter it climbs it will need additional orbital velocity. So, without motors and fuel on the load/elevator to increase forward velocity, it will lag behind the location of the "perfectly located" satellite which is pulling it up.The tether will be deflected at the point of the elevator, which will lever down the satellite. And if you are half way up to geosynchronicity at 11,000 miles, that's a mighty long lever.

Calculate that load, genius.
cantdrive85
1.3 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2018
the tether goes above the satellite, and not far. But you're right, a cable running from ground to space is a different story, a lightning rod yes. But that's not what this is.

Ummm, by the use of carbon nanotube they are creating a very efficient lightning rod straight through the ionosphere, through the Van Allen belts, and then punches through the bow shock to be out in the solar wind. And the Earth rotates within the teardrop shaped magnetosphere, so ultimately it will rotate in and out of the magnetosphere on a daily basis. The is a plasma ignoramus pipedream which only has value to authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and leeches sucking on the teet of gov't funding.
arcmetal
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 05, 2018
the tether goes above the satellite, and not far. But you're right, a cable running from ground to space is a different story, a lightning rod yes. But that's not what this is.

Ummm, by the use of carbon nanotube they are creating a very efficient lightning rod straight through the ionosphere, through the Van Allen belts, and then punches through the bow shock to be out in the solar wind. And the Earth rotates within the teardrop shaped magnetosphere, so ultimately it will rotate in and out of the magnetosphere on a daily basis. The is a plasma ignoramus pipedream which only has value to authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and leeches sucking on the teet of gov't funding.

It could be the biggest bug zapper on the planet, or the tallest Tesla coil.
lunarguy
5 / 5 (2) Sep 05, 2018
"James_Kent..So, if your load increases the perfect centripetal distance must grow and your orbital speed must change accordingly, with what ? "

The ratio of space elevator mass/object lifted mass is very high. So, your point, while valid, is not a big issue. I would think the main problem is debris, then material strength. The whole thing seems a nonstarter for Earth but a fun problem for college students.
Cusco
4.9 / 5 (8) Sep 06, 2018
Calculate that load, genius.


Don't worry, James_Kent, people who are apparently a lot smarter than you and who actually understand orbital mechanics are quite capable of doing just that (and have, since at least the 1970s). It won't really make the sky fall.
granville583762
4.7 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2018
Doesn't the cable have different orbitals along its length, if it does, its going to be an interesting sight especial any one who takes the lift.
mynoob
not rated yet Sep 07, 2018
What if instead of trying to go up, you design something which can stop the object from forward motion. As Earth and all it holds travels at 30km/s all you'd need is some kind of anchor in space. May be something like this but on a larger scale? https://www.youtu...IV-wMVUk
savvys84
not rated yet Sep 10, 2018
nano tubes are the ultimate dream for space elevators
EnricM
5 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2018
eeches sucking on the teet of gov't funding.


It's Japan who is doing it, and these guys are still independent. At least last time I checked. And not all scientists are subsidised by the government, not even the Japanese.

And materials like the ones that are being tested here do have practical and commercial applications, from cars to airplanes or simple sneakers.

This "taxpayer money" routine may be very hip amon alt-righters, but besides of being repetitive it just demonstrates a lack of the basic intelligence that is required to take a few seconds and think. But hell, for that you require at least two neurons, right?
birchley
not rated yet Sep 10, 2018
Space elevator ....yeah, right. I think these guys would be better to spend their time reading basic physics than science fantasy!

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