2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Japanese scientists will test the miniature progenitor of the space elevator this month - a nanosatellite will be launched into space, which will split into two halves linked by a 10-meter metal cable, News Corp Australia Network reported, citing the Mainichi newspaper. The experiment will check how feasible the project is and what difficulties scientists will have to face.
In 2014, the Japanese corporation Obayashi announced that it would build a space elevator by 2050 capable of lifting cargo to an altitude of a geostationary orbit of 36 thousand kilometers. Robotic "cockpits" using magnetic linear motors will get to the space platform at this altitude in seven days. At the same time, the new technology will significantly reduce the cost of transporting the payload into orbit: as previously reported, the cost of delivery will be only $ 200. The total height of the system will be 96 thousand kilometers, since it requires a counterweight for stability.
Schematic of a space elevator proposed by the Obayashi corporation
On September 10, the Japanese cargo ship HTV-7 is to launch to the ISS, on board it will be two 10-centimeter STARS-Me satellites of the CubeSat standard, developed by scientists from Shizuoka University in conjunction with Obayashi. The satellites will be sent into space from the ISS on September 11 as a unit, and then the two halves will have to separate, gradually unwinding a 10-meter metal cable. If the operation is successful, a miniature elevator or "motorized container", as scientists call it, will move along it. Cameras installed on satellites will monitor what is happening.
Researchers will record any unexpected fluctuations or deviations from the original orientation as the weight of the container changes. If successful, this could be the first step towards proving the feasibility of a cargo space elevator. “In theory, the idea of building a space elevator looks quite convincing. Space travel may become popular in the future,”said research team leader Yoji Ishikawa.
This is not the first experiment of Japanese scientists with tether systems in space. Such cable systems are interesting not only as a prototype of a space elevator, but also as one of the ways to combat space debris. The cable released in space acts as a brake that can de-orbit space debris.
In particular, in 2009 and 2014, they already sent microsatellites of the STARS series into space, which were supposed to release a Kevlar cable after entering orbit and split into two halves, but both of these experiments were only partially successful, in one case telemetry was not received, in a friend was unable to unwind the cable.
In 2016, the next spacecraft of the series - STARS-C - was delivered to the ISS by the HTV-6 cargo vehicle. It was no longer a microsatellite, but an apparatus of the CubeSat standard, consisting of two independent "cubes" that were supposed to separate and remain tied with a cable. The device was sent into space from the Japanese module "Kibo", but even in this case, no data was received that the cable was deployed. Another KITE cable experiment was carried out with the same HTV-6 truck, but in this case, no success was achieved.