Testing space elevators

Space elevators

A pair of tiny satellites will help test technology for a space elevator. Scientists have dreamed of space elevators since the late 1800s, but the technology is still the stuff of science fiction.

STARS-Me (or Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite – Mini elevator) built by Japan, comprised of two 10-cm cubic satellites connected by a 10-m long tether.

A small robot representing an elevator car, about 3 cm across and 6 cm tall, will move up and down the cable using a motor as the experiment floats in space.

A full-scale space elevator, if ever built, might use a similar setup to ferry astronauts and cargo from Earth to orbit much more cheaply and efficiently than rocket launches.

The design involves a 96,000-kilometer-long, carbon-nanotube cable attached to a floating “Earth Port” in the ocean on one end and a space station on the other.