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The Ribbon

The core of the Space Elevator is the physical connection between Earth and space. In our baseline design this connection is in the form of a ribbon though earlier designs discussed a round cable.

The primary technical challenge to building the Space elevator has always been the availability of material with sufficient strength. The availability and strength of this material drives all aspects of the space elevator.

Value Units
Material Carbon nanotube
Width 1 meter
Length 100,000 kilometers
Small scale design Spun thread

Ribbon closeup.jpg Ribbon 3d image.jpg

These images show the proposed basic design though not completely to scale. Many small axial, load-bearing fibers are held in a ribbon configuration by orthogonal epoxy, adhesive tape or woven interconnects. increasing the size of the ribbon is accomplished by splicing additional ribbons to the sides or face of the initial ribbon.

Discussions on the ribbon can be found File:Cable write up.odt and the basic spreadsheet for cable calculations for different planets, lift capabilities, lengths, etc. can be found in this File:Cable worksheet.ods

Insert Sketchup graphic and related Sketchup file

Work Needed

The ribbon is the greatest technical challenge facing the space elevator. It must be extremely strong, fault-free and damage-tolerant, lightweight, and resistant to radiation, ultraviolet and atomic oxygen.

Item Notes
Production of carbon nantubes Develop techniques for mass production of CNT based materials
Develop ribbon designs and optimize components Optimize thread size for production and use, develop and test optimal interconnects (woven, tape sandwiches, epoxy,...)
Make and test various ribbon designs Aligned threads with orthogonal interconnects, cross-linked tethers (Hoytether), solid sheets... test for fault tolerance, strength to weight ratio,
Test CNT threads to destruction Test the energy storage and dissipation when a CNT thread is pulled to breaking

Major Development Issues Related to this Component

  1. Stored Energy Release in Ribbon
  2. Splicing Ribbons During Construction
  3. Optimizing Ribbon Design
  4. Atomic Oxygen Effects on Ribbon
  5. Spooling of the Ribbon for Deployment
  6. Degradation of the Ribbon in the Space Environment
  7. Attaching the Ribbon to the Anchor

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