A Japanese team will be testing the world’s first miniature space elevator that will be carried on an H-2B rocket and launched from the island of Tanegashima next week with equipment supplied by Shizuoka University.
While the Japanese space elevator may not be the massive object in space that science fiction lovers everywhere would kill to see, it is necessary to take small, cautious steps with this miniature space elevator to ensure that the technology works before thinking about creating anything larger. According to Gizmodo, the Japanese paper The Mainichi has described what will be taking place with the upcoming testing.
“In the experiment, two ultra-small cubic satellites, which were developed by Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering, will be used. Each satellite measures 10 centimeters each side, and a roughly 10-meter-long steel cable will be employed to connect the twin satellites. The pair of satellites will be released from the International Space Station (ISS), and a container acting like an elevator car will be moved on a cable connecting the satellites using a motor. A camera attached to the satellites will record the movements of the container in space.”
The small box that will be used as the miniature space elevator will only be six centimeters in length and three centimeters in both height and width. If the space elevator is able to achieve movement along the 10-meter cable that will be stretched between two cubic satellites, which cameras placed in these satellites will be able to track, there is a much greater possibility that it could succeed on a larger scale.
The first person who publicly began speaking about the concept of space elevators was Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who suggested the idea in 1895 after finding himself entranced by the Eiffel Tower. Later, Arthur C. Clarke took up the idea in his novel The Fountains of Paradise.
According to Phys.org, the Japanese firm Obayashi, who is also working on the miniature space elevator project in collaboration with Shizuoka University, would like to one day create a space elevator of their own.
Obayashi believes that by utilizing carbon nanotube technology instead of steel, it may be possible to construct a lift shaft of some kind that would extend 60,000 miles over the Earth. If their concept were to actually work, the firm has proposed using it for space tourism sometime before the year 2050.
The miniature space elevator will be lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on September 11.