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Ribbon Splicing

Ribbon 3d image.jpg

Building the elevator economically relies on being able to use the elevator to build itself. If we try to launch the entire 1400+ tons for a first small elevator to GEO (or LEO as has been proposed) the cost of the launches runs between $9B and $90B. In addition, there is the cost and complexity of on-orbit construction and the schedule for hundreds of launches. This may be possible with innovative work but we are baselining the construction for launching of the first 40 tons of ribbon and matching counterweight and then sending up climbers to enlarge it. This baseline scenario requires splicing new ribbon to the existing material. The new ribbon is spliced along side the existing ribbon with the interconnects extending over the new and part of the old ribbon. The attachment must be strong and permanent and done at high speed. This arrangement can be seen in the image at right though not to scale.

What needs to get done is a demonstration of the splicing. The basic ribbon design can be used at this point. The baseline scenario calls for tape sandwiches that are put down but there may be better solutions from the textile industry.