Two of the most fundamental barriers to the exploration of the solar system are the cost of transporting material to space and the time it takes to get to destinations beyond Earth’s sphere of influence. Space elevators can solve this problem by enabling extremely fast and propellant free transit to nearly any destination in the solar system. A space elevator is a structure that consists of an anchor on the Earth’s surface, a tether connected from the surface to a point well above geostationary orbit, and an apex counterweight anchor. Since the entire structure rotates at the same rate as the Earth regardless of altitude, gravity is the dominant force on structures below GEO while centripetal force is dominant above, allowing climber vehicles to accelerate from GEO along the tether and launch off from the apex with large velocities. The outcome of this project is the development of a MATLAB script that can design and analyze a space elevator tether and climber vehicle. The elevator itself is designed to require the minimum amount of material necessary to support a given climber mass based on provided material properties, while the climber is simulated separately. The climber and tether models are then combined to determine how the force applied by the climber vehicle changes the stress distribution inside the tether.
- Numerical Modeling and Stress Analysis of Space Elevator Tethers