The concept of space elevators is now a new one. There have been all sorts of sci-fi stories that explore the applications of this concept.
However, this concept has never been tested in real life conditions due to obvious technological restrictions, not to mention the unpredictable nature of earth’s atmosphere.
But, now Japan is planning to actually carry this concept forward, through an experiment which will launch a tiny space elevator from the International Space Station.
The equipment for this experiment will ride to the space station in a mini satellite called STARS-C (Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite-Cube).
Once it gets in place, the orbiter will split into two 10-cm (3.94-inch) cubes with a thin 100-metre tether between them. This tether is made from Kevlar to ensure that it won’t snap off.
The cubes can expand both vertically and horizontally, so that the setup has a lot more flexibility when it comes to testing in different positions.
Once the spooling is done, radio operators on the ground will use ham radio frequencies to get feedback from the STARS-C. These frequencies will also be used to control it as well.
This experiment was created by researchers from Shizuoka University at a meager cost of just $98,000, which is quite cheap when compared to traditional costs of space equipment.
We don’t yet know when this experiment will be carried forward, but we will definitely keep an eye on it, because if successful, this technology will create an entirely new way of sending equipment up to space.