A winding solution to the space elevator power problem

B. Michel, UCL

o It costs around 6000 M$. o It will have to overcome many problems due to interference with the earth atmosphere.000 Km long with a tapered 2 mm2 max cross section. low orbit objects.The Reference Space Elevator o The µReference Space Elevator¶ (RSE) is 100. . 1/3 dedicated to power the system. and the laser power beams needed to beam energy to the climbers. o It is made from CNT with a 150 GPa strength.

o The up and down translation is done by winding and unwinding the cable on reels at both ends. they will be attached to it. constant section) o The climbers will not climb the ribbon. o Energy is provided to the system only at ground level and at the counterweight station . longer ribbon (150000 Km.A simple winding solution o A heavier.

cabin at GEO. End : ground spool empty. CW down to 73000 km with a big spool of cable . 35900km cable reeled-in on a spool on the ground. reeledThe CW is at 150000km attached to an empty spool Unreel the ground spool. reel-in the cable reelon the CW spool : the cabin climbs«.How it works (1) o o o Start : cabin at earth level.

When the CW spool is heavier. it has to be moved closer to the ground.How it works (2) Why do we move the counterweight up and down? To keep the ribbon stress under its maximum allowed value at all times. . and To keep the centre of gravity farther than the GEO.

. motorised winch and a maintenance station. the CW lowers itself from 150000 km to half that while its weight increases 20x ! (15 Tons to 313 Tons). As the payload climbs up. used for solar panels.How it works (3) How do we move the counterweight down? The CW spool is actuated by electric motors and solar panels. 15 tons is the minimum weight of the CW.

.How it works (4) While we move up« «the Earth station unwinds its winch and uses the recuperated energy to power the base station. «the CW spool is unreeled and the energy is dissipated by radiator panels. «the CW spools its winch using the solar panel energy. While we go back to earth« «the Earth station winds its winch using low cost electricity.

500Km Max stress : 75 GPa Mass of one µlift¶ = 2.Some figures Cross section : 2mm2 Total cable length : 185.113 Kg @71.000Km Max CW weight : 313.900 Km Total cable mass : 483.000 Kg .600 Kg Min CW weight : 15.673 Kg @150.

S.E :  Heavier cable.  Higher cable stress  Lighter payload  Downward journey wastes useful time But  No need for energy transfer  Very simple climbers   Cable repair easy at Earth (lower part) Cable repair possible at CW. or at the GEO station (upper part) .First conclusion Compared with the R.

.Threads to the elevator o Wind o Thunderstorms and lightning o Radiation o Atomic oxygen o Sulphuric acid o LEO satellites and know debris o Micrometeors o Most of the above threads are directed to the lowest percent(s) of the cable.

Advantages of the winding solution o Almost all damage to the cable can be fixed when the cable is on the ground. we can uncoil fresh ribbon at the bottom while discarding the top section from the CW. o The same method can be used to progressively increase the ribbon section. We can even replace sections of the cable if needed! o No more need to beam energy to the climbers o Better climber payload/dead weight ratio o In case of major damage. .

Why not an hybrid compromise ? Seeing the above conclusions. relatively lightweight o Beam powered climbers But o A winch at the earth station and a winch in the CW 12 . why not trying to keep the best of both words? o A tapered cable.

The hybrid compromise The operating mode will be a compromise too:  We lock the climber to the cable and use the winch for the first 2600 Km  We play with the CW altitude to keep the centre of gravity above GEO and the stress in the cable at an acceptable level. we disconnect the climber from the cable for our cable roll-back roll- 13 .  The rest of the journey to GEO is classical with energy beaming  When at GEO.

we can roll-in slightly rollmore cable on ground if no climber attached and if the CW is winched down. 30% at 5200 Km) Smaller PV panels Better efficiency  Power beaming accidents at low altitudes no more possible.  Power beaming from GEO becomes possible 14 .The hybrid advantages  The lower 1% of the cable is regularly accessible on earth for maintenance (and the major threads are in the lower area)  For exceptional repairs in the lower 5%.  Power beaming requirement are lower (75% at 1000Km. 50% at 2600 Km.

The compromise parameters  The main parameter is the reel-in/reel-out distance reel-in/reel We have to balance the reel-in/reel-out distance against reel-in/reelCable strength and taper value Additional weight and complexity at the CW Power beaming lower requirements Easy maintenance for the reeled part of the cable  For low values of the parameter. A fixed CW without winch could b used Higher cable stress Lower maximal payload More simulations are required to find the best compromise 15 .

be Benoit MICHEL. November 2007 Images copyright Alan Chan & his space elevator visualisation group .benoitmichel.www.

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