Non-Conductive Tethers - Free Artificial Gravity In Orbit

Tethers connecting satellites or space stations have some interesting effects even if they are not conductive (see Electrodynamic Tethers: Clean Up Debris - Power or Boost Spacecraft). A non-conductive tether made of a very strong, light material like Kevlar can be used to connect two objects in orbit, one farther away from the Earth than the other.

Two forces act on any object in stable orbit; an outward-pulling centrifugal force balanced by a downward gravitational force. Connecting two satellites in different orbits will cause them to act as one system. The outer satellite will experience a weaker gravitational force and a stronger centrifugal force; a net force pushes the satellite outward. The opposite set of conditions prevails on the lower satellite. The lower satellite orbits faster, and tows the other along like a water skier. The system reaches equilibrium when the tether aligns in the radial direction towards Earth.


(From Electrodynamic Tethers)

The effect is rather small; a fifty kilometer tether would produce about one percent of Earth's gravity. However, it may be that this very small acceleration could reduce the problems with constant free fall, which is a constant irritant on space missions. Liquids would tend to settle (slowly), and everyone would know where "up" was.

I went ahead and purchased online access for a year of SA as well as access to their archives. That material looks great on my laptop! (Hopefully this unsolicited testimonial will make them happier about the one purloined image shown above.) Science fiction writers have also been interested in the idea of generating microgravity environments in orbit. Science fiction author David Brin has made a good story (from 1982) available; you might want to go read Tank Farm Dynamo. This story gives you a good idea of what it might be like to live in this environment. The story takes maybe fifteen minutes to read.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/9/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..' - Doc Smith, 1934.

NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...' - Robert Heinlein, 1966.

Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

NASA's Meteorite-Resistant Fabric Perfect For Space Armor
'The men who labored so feverishly there, were clad in heavy space armor...' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1932.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...'

NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..'

ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips
'Slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon...'

Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.'

Geoengineering The Atmosphere For Climate Change
'...a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round.'

Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
'mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?'

Computers Understand Humans By Watching And Modeling Them
Soon, your computer will be watching you... and judging you.

NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...'

Musk Tunnels Wisely Restrict Drivers
Too many robots.

Robot Swarms Controlled With Augmented Reality
'You're not thinking in enough dimensions...'

MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...'

Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'

WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...'

Digital Construction Platform Robot 3D Prints A Building
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.