The orbital siphon: A new space elevator concept

C.R. McInnes, Chris Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A new concept for propellantless payload transfer from the surface of the Earth to Earth escape is presented. Firstly, a simple model of a payload ascending or descending a conventional space elevator is developed to explore the underlying dynamics of the problem. It shown that an unconstrained payload at rest on a space elevator at synchronous radius is in an unstable equilibrium, and that this instability can be used to motivate the development of a new concept for payload transfer. It will be shown that a chain of connected payloads stretching from the surface of the Earth to beyond synchronous radius can be assembled which will lift new payloads at the bottom of the chain, while releasing payloads from the top of the chain. The complete system therefore acts as an 'orbital siphon', transporting mass from the surface of the Earth to Earth escape without the need for external work to be done. Indeed the system performs net work by transferring energy from the Earth's rotation to the escaping mass. The dynamics of the siphon effect are explored and key engineering issues are identified.
LanguageEnglish
Pages368-374
Number of pages7
JournalJBIS, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
Volume59
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Fingerprint

space elevators
siphons
Siphons
Elevators
payloads
Earth (planet)
payload transfer
orbitals
escape
Earth rotation
radii
releasing
Stretching
engineering
energy

Keywords

  • orbital tower
  • payload transfer
  • orbital dynamics
  • solar sails
  • propulsion systems
  • spacecraft

Cite this

McInnes, C.R. ; Davis, Chris. / The orbital siphon : A new space elevator concept. In: JBIS, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. 2006 ; Vol. 59, No. 10. pp. 368-374.
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The orbital siphon : A new space elevator concept. / McInnes, C.R.; Davis, Chris.

In: JBIS, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 59, No. 10, 2006, p. 368-374.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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