The space elevator
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THE SPACE ELEVATOR. Aaditya Sapkal (ES12B1016). The Components. The Ribbon The Anchors The Climbers The Power. The Ribbon: Design. The Ribbon: Construction. Initial production takes place on earth

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The space elevator




The components
The Components

  • The Ribbon

  • The Anchors

  • The Climbers

  • The Power

The ribbon construction
The Ribbon: Construction

  • Initial production takes place on earth

  • Aligned nanotubes are epoxyed into sheets, which are then combined (reinforced)

  • Climbers have a similar system on-board to build tether

The anchors
The Anchors

  • The space anchor will consist of the spent launch vehicle

  • The Earth anchor will consist of a mobile sea platform 1500 miles from the Galapagos islands

The climbers
The Climbers

  • Initial ~200 climbers used to build nano-ribbon

  • Later used as launch vehicles for payloads from 20,000- 1,000,000 kg, at velocities up to 200km/hr

  • Climbers powered by electron laser & photovoltaic cells, with power requirements of 1.4-120MW

  • The power
    The Power

    • Free-electron lasers used to deliver power

    • Adaptive Optics on Hobby-Eberly telescope used to focus Earth-based beams, (25cm spot @ 1,000km altitude)

    • Reduced power delivered at high altitudes compensated by reduced gravitational force on climber, (~0.1g)

    Major hurdles
    Major Hurdles

    • Ribbon Construction

    • Atmospheric:

      • Lightning

      • High Winds

      • Atomic Oxygen

  • Orbital:

    • Meteors

    • Low orbit object

  • Ribbon Breakage

  • Sufficient ribbons
    Sufficient Ribbons



    Nanotubes must be defect free and straight

    The epoxy must be strong yet flexible, burn up at a several hundred Kelvin, and cure relatively quickly

    The length of the finished cable is 91,000km, and nanotubes are cm in length

    Large scale behavior of nanotubes unknown

    Nanotubes are grown aligned, and defects can be controlled in current production methods, (spark gap)

    The ribbon can be produced in small length bundles and then connected

    Atmospheric oxygen 60 100km
    Atmospheric Oxygen 60-100km



    Extremely corrosive, will etch ribbon epoxy and possibly nanotubes

    Coat ribbon with Gold or Aluminum which have resisted etching in these atmospheric conditions,(NASA’s Long Duration Exposure Facility

    Low orbit objects 500 1700km
    Low Orbit Objects 500-1700km


    • 108,000 (>1cm) objects with enough velocity to sever or critically damage tether. Strikes could occur ~every 14 hours


    • Tracking systems for objects >10cm already in place, sea platform will move tether to avoid

    • Tracking systems for 1-10cm objects coming on-line



    • Ribbon has lower resistivity than surrounding air, lighting will prefer this path.


    • Platform lies in a region of very low lightning activity

    • Platform is mobile, and can move tether out of the way of incoming storms

    High winds
    High Winds


    • 32m/s wind velocity will induce enough drag to destroy tether


    • Winds at platform location consistently below critical velocity

    • Width of tether will be adjusted to minimize wind loading