See animations pertaining to space elevator construction deployment
SPACE ELEVATOR DEPLOYMENT/CONSTRUCTION FROM AN INITIAL GEO ORBIT
This is one of many schemes that have been put forth to accomplish deployment of the space elevator. It starts with a large satellite positioned at GEO. This GEO object (likely having been constructed from components delivered to GEO via many conventional rocket launches) contains:
1. The Ribbon,
2. The Lower satellite that is the earth-seeking guidance and control module, that delivers the bottom of the ribbon to its anchor point, and,
3. The Upper satellite that manages ribbon deployment, it's own guidance and control, and is destined to become the ballast mass for the space elevator.
As the ribbon deploys downward from GEO, the two end-satellites perform a delicate guidance and control dance, to wit: as,
- the lower satellite progressively moves into the Earth's gravity well ever increasing magnitude (thus creating downward force on the system), - the upper satellite must move to ever higher altitudes creating a correspondingly greater centrifugal force to counter the increasing gravity pull.
The series of animations below depict the natural tendencies of such a process, as well as portrays examples of control schemes that produce failure modes, and finally, depicts how the deployment would look when successfully accomplished.
Note 1: all these animations have highly accelerated time frames; at the bottom will be seen a digital time stamp in which the leading 2 digits represent "days into the deployment" (a normal successful deployment via such a scheme takes about 15 days).
Note 2: the eye point reference-frame for these animations is looking down on the south-pole, fixed in a frame that is rotating with the earth; this is why the earth is apparently stationary in the animation (and you see the Antarctica land mass). Thus, in a successful deployment, the ribbon and its end-satellites would appear as a growing straight-line proceeding directly towards and away from earth directly along a single radial.
Note 3: the ribbon will show various shades of red during deployment operations.
- "High intensity red" color depicts greater (maximum) tension,
- "shades of pink" would depict intermediate tensions, and,
- "Pure white" would depict no (or very low) tension
1. The animation below shows the natural dynamic tendencies that will prevail if one were to simply station themselves at GEO, and start dropping the ribbon directly down towards Earth, with no compensating control interventions by the satellites at either end of the ribbon. It is seen that the entire system will progress westward, eventually plunging to earth.