A Japanese team of researchers at Shizuoka University will experiment this month in low-Earth orbit to eventually develop a “cosmic elevator” connecting Earth and the space station by cable.
The International Space Station (ISS) will launch two miniature satellites later this month, tied together by a 10-meter long steel cable, as it is the first step towards what could eventually become a large space elevator in the decades to come.
According to a report in Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun news service, two ultra-small cubic satellites, which were developed by Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering, will be released from the ISS after September 11, joined together via a 10-meter-long steel cable.
Once released from the ISS, the satellites will deploy the cable and a motorized container simulating an elevator car. A series of tests will be conducted with the container moving up and down on the wire, as sensors on the satellites will record the movements of the object in a weightlessness environment.
Major contractor Obayashi Corp., which is participating in the experiment as a technical adviser, is examining a space elevator of its own. The company has conceptualized a space elevator pod — each measuring 18 meters long and 7.2 meters in diameter will have a load capacity of roughly 30 people. The Earth-based platform would be set up at sea and connect with a space station some 36,000 kilometers in altitude will be used to move the elevator up and down using an electric motor pulley.