Preprint / Version 1

Effect of Physical Mechanics on Development and Construction of a Space Elevator in The Modern Era


  • Judah Mintz
  • Cody Waldecker Mentor



science fiction, physics, space elevator, engineering


Born in science fiction but becoming increasingly real, the space elevator, if possible, is a compelling alternative to the inefficiencies of modern staged rockets. A space elevator is simply a physical connection between a point on the Earth and a counterweight in geostationary orbit, along which cargo can travel. This has several goals: to increase our capacity to access the resources of our solar system, to reduce the environmental strain we exert on our planet, and to further the various component fields of science necessarily involved in such an effort. A space elevator is at once very simple and very complex. Although the underlying principles of a taut cable with objects able to move along it are relatively intuitive, the stress placed on the cable is immense, and designing a material capable of withstanding the pressure without becoming prohibitively bulky through tapering is a challenge that we will assess. The purpose of this paper is to examine current methodology of development, illustrate the forces that would act on the space elevator system, and evaluate the feasibility and timeline of the device. First, a background of basic celestial mechanics will be provided, following Keplerian mechanics, with the two body assumption that only the gravitational effects of the Earth must be accounted for. With that, a simplified gravity gradient model will be introduced to identify the moments on the spacecraft and inform the design of the counterweight system. Finally, this paper will identify the material and structural design necessary to construct a space elevator and its manufacturing feasibility.


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