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2007-04-06 Science & Technology
1 km and 30 km Space Tethers To Be Satellite Tested
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Posted by Anonymoose 2007-04-06 00:00|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [6476 views since 2007-05-07]  Top

#1 The tether projects also represent unique opportunities for scientific studies of the thermosphere and mesopause. Known as "reel-down" systems, tethers of several kilometers or more in length are used to drag sensor packages through the upper reaches of earth's atmosphere, where drag and other aerodynamic effects make typical satellite operations costly or prohibitive.

Carbon nano-tubes have begun to emerge as an alternative to monocrystalline carbon "diamond wire" that Arthur C. Clarke first proposed for space elevator construction in his book, "The Fountains of Paradise". Whatever the final structure is, a space elevator represents one of the greatest advances in aerospace technology since invention of the rocket itself.

Operating with a minuscule fraction of the energy released by a shuttle launch, these elevator systems will be able to deploy massive amounts of equipment and personnel into earth orbit. Such scales of economy are precisely what is required for economical orbital construction of renewed lunar exploration expeditions and manned planetary probes.

Low gravity industrial manufacturing facilities promise such oddities as nearly perfectly spherical ball bearings for almost fictionless mechanical devices or flawless optical lenses and other components. Another exciting prospect is the ability to use electrophoresis in the separation of specialty drugs which, in earth's gravity, are extremely difficult to isolate. Yet, in low earth orbit's microgravity, these drugs, often worth hundreds to thousands of dollars per gram, can be separated with relative ease.

Numerous other high vacuum processes and crystal growth techniques would be facilitated by being managed in such a low pressure microgravity environment. Additionally, the fabrication of specialty materials and alloys which will not form in earth's gravity may be feasible in microgravity. These new compounds have the potential for discovery of superstrength structural components, molecular thickness films (e.g., solar sails), high temperature superconductors and a host of other heretofore unconsidered applications that promise major breakthroughs and "leapfrog" technologies that were previously only dreamed of.
Posted by Zenster">Zenster  2007-04-06 02:43||   2007-04-06 02:43|| Front Page Top

#2 Numerous other high vacuum processes and crystal growth techniques would be facilitated by being managed in such a low pressure microgravity environment. Additionally, the fabrication of specialty materials and alloys which will not form in earth's gravity may be feasible in microgravity

Why don't don't we use the albatross ISS for this? As promised 943 times?
Posted by Shipman">Shipman  2007-04-06 04:59||   2007-04-06 04:59|| Front Page Top

#3 My only guess would be issues of power consumption and the hazards of high temperature or extreme pressure related processes compromising habitat integrity. Although these concerns are belied by the fact that crystal growth and the manufacture of "Space Beads" (i.e., polystyrene microspheres), have all been done during flights of the much more fragile Space Shuttle.

All in all, NASA's track record is so incredibly sucky that people like Burt Rutan are effectively eating their lunch. While NASA has achieved many admirable goals, they have often been on glacial timetables. As a government agency, albeit civilian, they exhibit every negative trait of top-heavy bureaucracy.

When one considers that the average American politician cannot explain how the basic components of a computer (e.g., CPU, ROM, Parallel Bus, RAM, Rigid Disk Drive, DRAM, CD-ROM or DVD Drive), function or interconnect, then it is no great surprise that few, if any, of them comprehend the huge benefits that could be realized by expanded activity in earth orbit.

Hell, these elected morons can barely bring themselves to recognize something so glaring as the threat of Islamic terrorism. Does anyone think that they will comprehend the tremendous advantages of something so, literally, remote and complex as space exploration?
Posted by Zenster">Zenster  2007-04-06 05:23||   2007-04-06 05:23|| Front Page Top

#4 "Hell, these elected morons can barely bring themselves to recognize something so glaring as the threat of Islamic terrorism. Does anyone think that they will comprehend the tremendous advantages of something so, literally, remote and complex as space exploration?"

Right about the 40-something percent that don't get the Islamicist thing, and the bit about space exploration.

A large component of BDS is the pining for the 90's, and the PERCEPTION that there were no threats of any kind then - terror, or threat to income security. The end of the "end of history" requires a scapegoat, and that scapegoat is W. To one extent or another, a great many (perhaps a majority) people who have BDS and are opposed to the WoT "just want it to end" so they can get back in their dishonest coccoon of comfort and no anxiety.

But economies go up and down, and despite the lengths to which folks go to convince themselves otherwise, there's no such thing as perfect income security. Deal with your anxiety, you weak-willed little people, and cut back on your lifestyle and do a little saving for hard times that must surely come to us all.

And the threat from radical Islam and its sympathizers throughout the rest of Islam is real, and not going away. It's not W's fault. It's centuries old. Nancy Pelosi going to them and wearing a surrender scarf isn't going to make it go away, it's only going to make it worse. Again, deal with it.

Understanding the benefits of space exploration requires the kind of vision and mental energy and imagination distinctly lacking in the very same people who want to crawl back into the fake bland comfort of the 1990's. If a buck could be spent on some creature comfort or enforcing more income security NOW, well, then, that's a better buck than one spent on a great project that might take lifetimes.

Humanity has far to go.
Posted by no mo uro 2007-04-06 07:06||   2007-04-06 07:06|| Front Page Top

#5 AoS: I know that the mods cringe at "space stories", and think long and hard about military apps and especially mention in the stories themselves.

The story that was deleted was actually *more* military oriented, about the breakthrough in drone in-flight refueling and repair of satellites--it is essential for the next generation of KH satellites for the NSA; and for space based weapons platforms.

Plus, tacitly, if we can repair our own satellites in orbit with drones, we can "repair" enemy satellites in interesting, if discreet, ways.
Posted by Anonymoose 2007-04-06 10:12||   2007-04-06 10:12|| Front Page Top

#6 Well, Allen ain't gonna like this. People takin a frikkin elevator to the moon! That's HIS spot, and he don't need a bunch of earthly peasant head bangers comin in and messin up the place. He wouldn't even let Jackie Gleason up for a visit.
Posted by remoteman 2007-04-06 12:28||   2007-04-06 12:28|| Front Page Top

#7 He wouldn't even let Jackie Gleason up for a visit.

Mebbe so, but Alice almost got there several times.
Posted by Zenster">Zenster  2007-04-06 15:19||   2007-04-06 15:19|| Front Page Top

#8 So why, if they are named "Tethers Unlimited" the tethers are are of finite length?

Posted by USN, Ret. 2007-04-06 15:45||   2007-04-06 15:45|| Front Page Top

#9 Fishing Off the Stern, are you?
Posted by Redneck Jim 2007-04-06 16:30||   2007-04-06 16:30|| Front Page Top

#10 Zenster says; "Hell, these elected morons can barely bring themselves to recognize something so glaring as the threat of Islamic terrorism. Does anyone think that they will comprehend the tremendous advantages of something so, literally, remote and complex as space "
exploration?"

Thats why they are widely known as the bought and paid for. Everything about politicians can be reduced to a single concept, Professional Pandering.

A little bird told me that robert byrd has a goal of 5000 streets and 1500 bridges named after him....does he care or understand anything besides a possible new pavement project or building contract, where public money might actually bestow his name to the largess.

what a mess.

Posted by Dino Tholusing8210 2007-04-06 21:14||   2007-04-06 21:14|| Front Page Top

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