JAPAN TO TEST MINI ‘SPACE ELEVATOR’
13, Sep 2018
Prelims level : Science & Tech Mains level :
A Japanese team has developed a “space elevator” and will conduct a first trial this month, blasting off a miniature version on satellites to test the technology.
Mini Space Elevator:
- It’s the world’s first experiment to test travel between two mini satellites in space
- The test equipment, produced by researchers at Shizuoka University, will hitch a ride on an H-2B rocket being launched by Japan’s space agency
- The test involves a miniature elevator stand-in a box just 6 cm long, 3 cm wide, and 3 cm high.
- The mini-elevator will travel along the cable from a container in one of the satellites.
- If all goes well, it will provide proof of concept by moving along a 10-metre cable suspended in space between two mini satellites that will keep it taut.
- The movement of the motorised “elevator” box will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.
- It is still a far cry from the ultimate beam-me-up goals of the project, which builds on a long history of “space elevator” dreams.
- The idea was first proposed in 1895 by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky after he saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
- But technical barriers have always kept plans stuck at the conceptual stage.
- Japanese construction firm Obayashi, which is collaborating with the Shizuoka university project, is also exploring other ways to build its own space elevator to put tourists in space in 2050.
- it could use carbon nanotube technology, which is more than 20 times stronger than steel, to build a lift shaft about 96,000 km above the earth