Classical Physics

   

The Space Conveyor Could Revolutionize Space Travel

Authors: Stanley Korn

The proposed space conveyor is a mass transit system for launching vehicles into space that uses the energy of Earth’s rotation to do the heavy lifting. In some respects, the space conveyor is similar to a space elevator in that they both consist of a ground station connected to a top station located some distance above the height of geostationary orbit. However, instead of being joined by a tether, the two stations are connected by a conveyor belt moving along rollers on both stations. Whereas with a space elevator, the climber must make a round trip from the ground to the top station and back before it can carry a second load, the space conveyor allows loads to be continuously attached to the moving conveyor belt, resulting in a vast increase in carrying capacity compared to the space elevator. Furthermore, if the height of the space conveyor is chosen so that the gravitational force acting on the conveyor belt and the attached conveyor cars is exactly balanced by the centrifugal force due to Earth’s rotation, the only energy required to operate the space conveyor would be that which is necessary to offset the small losses due to friction on the bearings supporting the rollers as well as air resistance on the tiny fraction of the conveyor belt lying within Earth’s atmosphere. This balance between the gravitational force and the centrifugal force will continue to hold even in the presence of a net upward flow of mass, as is expected to occur for some time after the space conveyor becomes operational, as humanity leaves Earth to explore and colonize the rest of the solar system, that energy difference being provided by the energy of Earth’s rotation. It turns out that the minimum tensile strength required for the conveyor belt of the space conveyor is the same as that for the tether of the space elevator, so it follows that if the technology exists for constructing a space elevator, it likewise exists for constructing a space conveyor. Therefore, given the substantial advantages of the space conveyor as compared to the space elevator, namely, vastly increased carrying capacity as well as greatly reduced energy required per unit payload carried aloft, it makes sense to devote our resources to designing and building a space conveyor rather than a space elevator.

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[v1] 2019-11-19 06:13:16

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