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Space Rope Trick Experiment Goes Awry

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the harder-than-lassoing-cattle dept.

Space 200

Tjeerd writes "An experiment that envisaged sending a parcel from space to Earth on a 30-kilometre tether fell short of its goal yesterday when the long fibre rope did not fully unwind, Russian Mission Control said. It was intended to deliver a spherical capsule, called Fotino, attached to the end of the tether back to Earth — a relatively simple and cheap technology that could be used in the future to retrieve bulkier cargoes from space.""

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In Soviet Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20755857)

rope unwinds you!

Actually... (5, Funny)

The_Isle_of_Mark (713212) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755877)

I climbed up the rope and hid in my secret magic room until I felt rested. Then, I climbed down and did 10d4 damage to Fotino.

Re:Actually... (4, Informative)

lexarius (560925) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756113)

But where did you put your magic bag while you were in there? It's dangerous to bring those inside, you know.

Tether Enabled SSTO (5, Informative)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756131)

HASTOL stands for Hypersonic Airplane Space Tether Orbital Launch. This was studied by NASA. We currently have a hard time with a winged craft that can make it to orbit. Space elevators also require "Unobtanium" with unattainably high tensile strengths. But if we combine the two, we get something which is both technically feasible and capable of dirt-cheap earth to orbit. Basically, have an aircraft capable of very high altitude, and about half orbital velocity rendevous with a rotating tether (Rotovator) that can take a cargo the rest of the way to orbit.

PDF [google.com]
View as HTML [64.233.169.104]
More Cosmic Rope Tricks [strangehorizons.com]

Re:Tether Enabled SSTO (1)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756779)

My first question about this HASTOL was how are you going to anchor the orbiter laying out the rope? Wouldn't it get pulled right back down towards Earth? Then I googled for the documents and read this tidbit,

Next is the grapple system that will grip the payload from the airplane and hand it over to the tether system. The tether system will rely on Earth's gravity or its electromagnetic energy to slingshot the payload at orbital speeds. This momentum-exchange tether will allow the energy and momentum to be transferred between objects in space, allowing the system to toss a spacecraft from one orbit to another.it seems that this is a system for transfering payloads between objects in established orbit.
Rely on it's gravity or electromagnetic energy? I'll need to read more to get some clarification on this..

after a thourough scientific analysis ... (4, Funny)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755885)

The reason for the problem wasn't immediately clear. "It could be that the tether got stuck," Lyndin said.

Re:after a thourough scientific analysis ... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756161)

What thourough analysis? The tether's in outer space inside an unmanned craft. Not like you can just pop the hood and go, "Here's the problem. Looks like a vodka lid got stuck in the gears."

Re:after a thourough scientific analysis ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756399)

I thought it was "ah, I see provlum, wodca lid stuck in gear," and then some kind of wise crack about moose and squirrel.

it's funny because it's true (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755887)

An experiment that envisaged sending a parcel from space to Earth on a 30-kilometre tether fell short of its goal yesterday when the long fibre rope did not fully unwind

So that's how UPS plans on routing packages in the future. Perhaps they realize that the only way to achieve more damage per parcel is to actually drop them from outer space.

Re:it's funny because it's true (5, Funny)

Psychor (603391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755961)

I think even dropping from outer space plus the burns from reentry would still damage a package less than the average UPS delivery. They set a pretty high bar, I'm not sure that mere science is enough to top it.

Re:it's funny because it's true (5, Funny)

monk.e.boy (1077985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756453)

Perhaps they should employ my mum: Free physical and emotional damage.

Re:it's funny because it's true (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755967)

Speaking of UPS, what happened to the idea that express parcel companies would be major forces behind private space exploration? In Michael Flynn's novel Firestar [amazon.com] FedEx is one of the first companies to buy private spacecraft because it sees major profits in being able to deliver anywhere on Earth in just a couple of hours. But when you read about private space ventures here on Slashdot, parcel companies don't play any sort of role.

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756073)

We order everything on the internets now, duh!

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756271)

Just have to make the tubes large enough to stuff parcels down them....

Re:it's funny because it's true (0, Redundant)

monk.e.boy (1077985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756527)

And your presentation to the board would be along the lines of:

...stuff...parcel...tube...and in conclusion: goatse

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756077)

what happened to the idea that express parcel companies would be major forces behind private space exploration?
Other than the obvious reason that the book in question is a work of fiction?

I'd imagine parcel companies either don't even see it as profitable yet and haven't done any feasibility studies or they have done feasibility studies and it's not worth it yet. FedEx doesn't have to design a plane it just buys one from Boeing or who ever. Maybe it will change when Lockheed make a working commercial space place.

Re:it's funny because it's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756099)

Globalisation has made the products available locally pretty much the same anywhere on the planet, and since most things these days are software, we don't need to burn colossal amounts of fuel to ship an 80s tape player halfway around the planet...

Re:it's funny because it's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756759)

Globalization with tangible goods only works with really cheap fuel and relative peace. Watch if they attack iran and how fast prices for most everything rise,(along with availability at all) because oil will go between 100-200 bucks a barrel pretty darn quickly.

And I really don't get what you mean "most things are software". Uhh, no, no they aren't. Most "things" are tangibles. You can try downloading an image of a hamburger and licking it off your screen I guess, but I don't think there are a lot of calories there.

Re:it's funny because it's true (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756165)

A vanishingly small number of situations require a specific material object to cross the globe in a couple hours. The Internet relieves any information hauling needs, and the rise of manufacturing and general ubiquity of export goods has meant that there's probably an identical copy of that object that can be had more locally. So most remaining situations would be fully burdened (not amortized like all 2,000 packages in a neighborhood UPS truck). Now it takes a LOT of energy to get even the smallest object into orbit, ...

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756533)

A vanishingly small number of situations require a specific audio message to cross the globe in a couple tenths of a second. The postal system relieves any written information hauling needs, and the rise of messenger boys has meant that it's easy to send messages that need to be delivered more locally. So most remaining situations would be fully burdened (not amortized like all 2,000 letters in a mail truck). Now it takes a LOT of energy to get even the smallest audio message across the cables.

Re:it's funny because it's true (3, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756873)

I know your trying to prove a point with a bad analogy, but it is really bad.

Energy to get information down a gable is not much at all. You are also using an example of information transport (audio) and trying to apply it to physical object transport. The GP's point was that we can transport massive amounts of information in the 3 hours it takes to fly a spaceship across the globe (in said example).

Also since audio messages are information they are amortized with the millions of web pages sent down cables.

An example of things not needing to ship quickly follows:

After 911, MBNA wanted American flags with "God Bless America" to greet all of their workers world wide on the way into the office, this was decided later on in the day on September 11th. We could either print everything locally and ship it out, or get vendors in other parts of the world to print them too. In the past getting people in Dublin to print them would have required shipping negatives (30 years ago) or disks (20? years ago) or Cds (10 - 20 years ago (maybe 15 to 20?). We were able to send the file in an hour and get it produced locally on identical equipment, where previously we would have paid FedEx out the ass (and been delayed however many days for airplane to fly again). Fast physical delivery is far less important than it used to be.

2,000 packages (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756571)

No wonder my dog barks so much at the UPS truck, that thing must be a TARDIS to get all that in there. That also explains why they aren't interested in our quaint little rockets and space shuttles.

Re:it's funny because it's true (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756167)

A couple of reasons I can think of:

1.) Cost. Sure, you could get a package delivered to Russia in less than an hour, but it would cost 3 million dollars.

2.) Right now, the vehicles we have that are designed for quick takeoff, orbit, and re-entry carry rather more destructive cargo [wikipedia.org] . Maybe FedEx doesn't want the Russians mistaking one of their rockets filled with Barney DVDs for a nuclear attack and triggering World War III. I would have to imagine the PR from that sort of thing would be somewhat damaging.

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756315)

I think lauching a nuclear strike against someone delivering Barney DVDs sounds rather reasonable. I see what you mean, everyone would blame FedEx for consenting to deliver that tripe in the first place...

One more reason (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756909)

Sure you could deliver a package anywhere in the world in a couple of hours, but it will take a few more hours to a few days to clear customs anyway.

(I had a _very_ bad experience shipping a friend's dog to Turkey recently... they decided to classify a spayed pet coon hound as an "exotic breeding animal" which required a few days of chasing around the proper forms, finding the proper officials to fill them out/stamp them, and of course all the taxes and fees. FIVE days in a box instead of the scheduled two. I suspect the forms were thrown out and the fees pocketed, and the dog officially admitted as a pet. Turkey is ranked 64 on the list [transparency.org] of corrupt nations)

Re:it's funny because it's true (3, Funny)

Valiss (463641) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756205)

Are you implying that a fictional book did not acurately predict the future?

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756231)

Would you be willing to pay 2.5 million dollars for 2.4 hour delivery, compared to 250 dollars for 24 hour delivery?

That's why Fedex isn't buying spacecraft.

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756565)

If I'm a government, and absolutely, positively need a vaccine/supplies/etc. on the other side of the world in a couple of hours, yes, 2.4 million is chump change (a shuttle launch costs 500-600 million dollars). This is the reason scramjets/ramjets are in development. Getting between the two farthest points in the world takes a short time when you're traveling at Mach 4-10.

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

CFTM (513264) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756235)

Uh, I can answer this question for you quite easily; the R&D has yet to be done by other companies! Why the heck is a public company, like UPS, going to waste their profits on this sort of R&D when they can let other people do it for them? You won't see UPS and FedEx getting involved with this sort of stuff until someone else bears the heavy burden for the R&D required to make this cost effective.

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756407)

Actually UPS and FedEx do a lot of R&D currently they are both heavily invested in alternative fuel and hybrid technologies (think of the amount of gas one UPS truck on one route burns).

When they see its financially beneficial they will do it you can bet.

Re:it's funny because it's true (3, Funny)

JWtW (875602) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756253)

I think you're on to something. With a quick slingshot around the sun, they could start offering 'UPS Yesterday Air'

DHL are working on it (1)

simong (32944) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756365)

But the difficult bit is working out how to put Atlanta into orbit.

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756787)

it's R&D now - getting the knowledge up and cost now. Parcel shippers aren't going to find it profitable now.

Others will bring the cost down, and when they do, then you'll find the parcel shippers interested in buyin craft.

FedEx Satellites (3, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756853)

Interestingly enough, FedEx does/did have satellites. Why you ask? In the 1980's what was then Federal Express worked with the fax companies to develop the Group III fax standard. Every FedEx station got one of these large fax machine complete with hard drives and a plain paper printer. The theory was, people would go to a FedEx location, have their documents faxed to somewhere else, where, for a fee, a courier would deliver it to the recipient. Alternately, high value customers, like law firms, would get a smaller thermal machines for mostly sending to the FedEx station which would forward it to the target station for delivery. The satellites were used to route the data between stations w/o using a phone line. Remember, this was before the Internet, and most companies who used fax would buy them in pairs to send between sites. Almost no one else would have a fax machine that could talk to your fax machine.

Federal Express spend *billions* on the system, and it failed utterly. What happened was the same companies that helped them develop the Group III standard made their thermal machines cheap and interoperatable. Soon, everyone had them, and the thermal paper wasn't too bad. You could always photocopy it once if you wanted a more permanent record. That, and falling long distance phone prices made it overall cheaper to fax a document than to have FedEx do it for you.

To sum up, FedEx has already been to space. They are looking at it, and it's always way too expensive for any kind of regular service. (except some data)

Re:it's funny because it's true (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755977)

This explains the "atmospheric reentry safe" boxes they kept trying to sell to me in the UPS store.

Re:it's funny because it's true (2, Funny)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756133)

So that's how UPS plans on routing packages in the future.

INCOMING!!!

Delivery failed? (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755903)

But, Planet Express is usually so reliable!

Re:Delivery failed? (1)

JSchoeck (969798) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756233)

Great, now you made me want to watch Futurama. Damn it!

Actually it doesn't matter if I read /. or watch a show... when I really should be studying!

Is a 30km rope (3, Interesting)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755911)

...really long enough? One would have thought that to drop something 150km one would need a 150km rope? ...and something to reduce friction as the probe gets towed along the ground at 17,000 kilometres per hour....

Re:Is a 30km rope (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755947)

It wouldnt be going 17000 km/h if the object in orbit is in geostationary orbit.

Re:Is a 30km rope (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755973)

But then you'd need an even longer rope.

Re:Is a 30km rope (3, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756025)

Sure, but to do that, you'd need a 35,786 km [wikipedia.org] rope. I think we're gonna need a bigger spacecraft to haul that thing up there.

Re:Is a 30km rope (2, Interesting)

Tim82 (806662) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756061)

Very true.... However, if it was in geostationary orbit, the object would need to be 35,786 km [wikipedia.org] from the Earth's surface, not 30 km.

Re:Is a 30km rope (2, Informative)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756007)

If you RTFA you'd have read that the goal wasn't to reach the earth's surface but to lower something to a lower orbit.

Re:Is a 30km rope (3, Interesting)

dmatos (232892) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756129)

Technically, to lower it down enough that it was no longer travelling at orbital velocity, at which point the tether would be released, and the capsule would fall through the atmosphere before a parachute opened up.

Given that LEO is at least 200km, the object would still be at 170km when released, and would have to survive the entire brunt of the re-entry problems. I'm not sure how lowering something on a tether is more economical/effective than using thrust to de-orbit, though.

Re:Is a 30km rope (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756283)

I'm not sure how lowering something on a tether is more economical/effective than using thrust to de-orbit, though.

From what I could tell, from my armchair scientist opinion, is that they're using a combo of gravity and air friction to drop the ball.

One plus to this method is it doesn't require the package to have fuel and engines, which thrust would require. Just shove everything into a really heat resistant ball and let it go.

Re:Is a 30km rope (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756109)

At 17,000 km/hr you would have to worry about friction in the atmosphere, let alone the ground. It would be a fireball a long way from the ground.

Re:Is a 30km rope (5, Funny)

clambake (37702) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756163)

One would have thought that to drop something 150km one would need a 150km rope?

You don't know anything about space, clearly, so just shut up. Leave this stuff to us experts.

(aside: Hey Bob, I have an idea why our space tether idea didn't work our right, get this: what if we used MORE than 30km of...)

Re:Is a 30km rope (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756189)

I would assume that they could accurately maintain geosynchronous orbit to a margin of error in the difference of velocities that most of those problems could be minimized. Maybe I have too much faith in our technological capabilities, though.

Close call (4, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755927)

This project hangs on a thread. I don't know if they'll be able to pull it off or knot. They have to make sure they don't get tied up on this setback. It really could unravel any day.

Re:Close call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20755969)

Your punny post had me in stitches... ... yeah yeah, ok, I won't quit my day job after all.

Re:Close call (1)

Mushdot (943219) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756229)

They should have outsourced the rope trickery to India :-)

Re:Close call (4, Funny)

dr_labrat (15478) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756287)

I'm a frayed knot.....

Re:Close call (1)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756893)

That post really struck a chord, but I'm too high-strung to reply. When I'm less tensile post something better in this thread.

Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20755929)

The idea is so ill-thought out and ridiculous that I can't understand why people blithely accept it. Do we really need super-strong, miles-long cables hovering over us like swords of Damocles?

Even sci-fi authors like Kim Stanley Robinson have included disaster scenarios when contemplating this technology, but irl nobody ever discusses the massive dangers.

The tech is premature and unnecessary at this point, and the risk/reward is insane. This isn't a chicken/egg scenario. Let's get something going in space before we kill thousands and destroy millions in property for nothing.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (5, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756011)

In the years since the publication of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, alternative models for space elevators have been proposed that would not have the elevator falling down upon the Earth were it severed. See the Wikipedia article on the subject, as this is a frequently asked question.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756195)

And the cable under discussion was not designed according to these fantastic, mythical new principles invented by Wikipedia fantasists and vandals, so moot point.

If you want your life and property under yet another constant threat, buy your own planet and move there. I'm sick and tired of the freewheeling science geeks that find new ways to put us all at risk with their useless toys, generation after generation.

Nobody but a selfish minority is interested in anyone making black holes in particle accelerators, building doomsday devices or suspending lethal pieces of engineering above everyone's heads.

Seriously, get off this planet. Everyone's lives aren't yours to fuck with, you pompous pricks.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (4, Funny)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756267)

> Seriously, get off this planet.

We're trying. STFU.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756269)

Oh, but I disagree, mein freund!

Your lives are ours to toy with as ve choose! Ve have choost to make ein presentation to ze Pentagon and ve haff funding.

Ze tiny voice of ze menschen luddite shall not even be heard! It is ein minor fart in ze windstorm.

Luddites be aware! You shall not impede the march of ze science! Ve laff at your sad attempt at ze bravado.

Relaxen und watschen der blinkenlighten.

Cordially,
The scientific community.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756345)

Everyone's lives aren't yours to fuck with, you pompous pricks.

Yeah, let's go back to the days when science didn't create problems like this so that we can all die of the plague as nature intended. You science types, how dare you think that you can continue to dicker in my affairs.

I'm outta here. I need to go chop wood for 12 hours a day so I don't freeze to death this winter.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (2, Insightful)

hab136 (30884) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756457)

If you want your life and property under yet another constant threat, buy your own planet and move there. [...] Seriously, get off this planet.

Duh, that's why we're building a space elevator!

I'm sick and tired of the freewheeling science geeks that find new ways to put us all at risk with their useless toys, generation after generation.

Yeah, germ theory, that polio vaccine, seat belts, and global communications (like the internet) are evil. Those bastards. /sarcasm

Nobody but a selfish minority is interested in anyone making black holes in particle accelerators, building doomsday devices or suspending lethal pieces of engineering above everyone's heads.

You seem to think that the scientists building these things are either suicidal or incompetent (unable to assess the risks). I'd argue the people doing this advanced, risky thinks are smarter than either of us.

As for a "selfish minority" endangering the rest of the populace - no. The major threats to human life are heart disease and cancer (>50% of deaths in the US), automobiles (40k deaths/year), and other humans (homicide/suicide/police/military). New methods of space travel/delivery? Not so much.

You seem to really hate science for some reason. Arguing a project is risky is one thing; namecalling is just blind prejudice.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756751)

Gosh, let's have two dozen more weak sisters trot out this straw man and pretend it's a substantive response.

I don't see one post in this thread railing against "science," fallacists. The actual topic is world-breaking insanity, which I notice that none of you can really defend specifically.

Yes, yes, anyone against creating black holes on earth or propping nearly-useless edifices above everyone's head hates polio vaccines and automobile engines. Great argument!

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756333)

To say nothing of falling packages trailing 30-km-long super-strong ropes behind them, or lots of satellites with 30-km-long super-strong ropes getting tangled in each other.

One of the common observations about orbital collisions is that space is big, but by the time you start restricting yourself to practical orbits and orbital distances, and then deploying objects whose longest dimension is very long compared to its volume, it may not be so big after all.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756373)

Why is this danger greater than the danger of getting hit by debris from an exploding space shuttle attempting reentry? Anyway, the tether would have extremely low density. If it for some strange reason did not burn or break because of the increased stress, it would probably fall to ground like a feather, if it even came down at all. It might just stay up there with the help of jet streams, like a kite.

In other words, the sci-fi authors don't know what they're talking about.

Re:Space Elevators endanger EVERYONE. (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756935)

Doesn't the low density requirement turn it into even harder to get unobtanium? The problem with space elevators isn't really the safety aspect--nobody who matters lives on the equator anyway. >:) The real problem is the materials science. We don't have anything close to strong enough to build this thing with yet, and I'm not as enthusiastic about carbon nanotubes being the solution as a lot of the people in the industry.

what? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20755937)

wouldn't there be an equal and opposite reaction pulling the space part down to the earth part?

So much for... (5, Funny)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755953)

...string theory.

Sorry Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20755959)

"Rope Trick" refers to either magic tricks or certain phenomena observed in nuclear explosions. Using rope to move loads is not a magic trick nor does it involve nuclear explosions so it is not a rope trick. Find a new term for your new technology where you transfer a load from one place to another with a cable.

Re:Sorry Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756473)

I know someone who's getting a dictionary and grammar guide for Christmas!!

Am I the only one... (0, Flamebait)

KGIII (973947) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755975)

...Who thinks the very idea of this is absolutely retarded? At least they're not my tax dollars.

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756397)

Thankfully, no one asks you whenever there's a radical idea. Bet you'd be against this http://world.honda.com/HondaJet/ [honda.com] on the grounds of 'absolutely retarded' as well.

Neat Trick (1)

roadkill_cr (1155149) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755989)

Thank goodness it only had to do with ropes hauling things. For a second I thought that the Ruskies were practicing the Rope trick effect [wikipedia.org] for battle in outer space.

pfft... (-1, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20755999)

"a relatively simple and cheap technology "

Apparently a bit TOO simple and a bit TOO cheap...

Previous try (4, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756003)

From new scientist

Experimental space tether fails to deploy * 15:17 11 May 2007 * NewScientist.com news service * Kelly Young A trio of mini-satellites has failed in their attempt to deploy a kilometre-long tether in space. The setback means the low-cost Multi-Application Survivable Tether (MAST) experiment, launched on 17 April, may not achieve its goal of testing the survivability of a thin, braided tether in space. Over the past week, mission managers determined that the tether-deploying element, known as Ted, had properly separated from the tether inspector, a tiny satellite called Gadget. But a glitch in the restraint system kept Ted from pushing away hard enough to keep unreeling the tether from its spool. So the tether deployed just a few metres, rather than a full kilometre. Robert Hoyt, chief executive officer of Tethers Unlimited, which designed the picosatellites, says mission managers suspect they know what caused the glitch, but the company is not ready to disclose this to the public yet. "I don't think we'll ever know for sure," he says. Space tethers could one day be used to fling satellites into different orbits, thus saving satellite companies money on fuel. Or tethers could enable clusters of satellites to fly in formation and prevent them from drifting away from one another over time. Such an application might be useful in interferometry, where images from several telescopes, spaced some distance apart, are combined to give greater resolution. Some data Despite the setback, the MAST team at Tethers Unlimited, a company in Bothell, Washington, US, still may be able to get other data from Gadget to learn how a short tether behaves in microgravity. MAST team members discussed having Gadget crawl down the tether to Ted to try to restart the deployment, but they decided that option was too risky. "If we were to have Gadget start to crawl, there is the possibility of the satellites banging together, which would be very likely to damage solar cells and other systems," Hoyt says. This was not the first setback for the mission, which costs less than $1 million. After launch, the satellite team could not get a signal from Ted (see No signal yet heard from tether-deploying satellite). But they said that this should not have affected Ted's ability to deploy the tether. Longest tether Then, sky watchers who had been on the lookout for the deployed tether and satellites from the ground had not seen anything when MAST was scheduled to appear overhead. "That's one confirmation that the tether is not deployed to a very long length," Hoyt told New Scientist. In other space tether news, the longest planned space tether just got a little closer to launch. The satellite, a project of 500 students in Europe known as Young Engineers Satellite 2 (YES2), was shipped to its launch site in Russia from the Netherlands on 10 May. YES2, a project of the European Space Agency, is scheduled to launch in September. If everything goes as planned, the satellite will unroll a 30-kilometre-long tether that is a mere 0.5 millimetres thick. The end of the tether will be attached to a small round capsule called Fotino that will eventually re-enter Earth's atmosphere and attempt to land

Previous try ( with formating corrected ) (0)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756041)

Experimental space tether fails to deploy

        * 15:17 11 May 2007
        * NewScientist.com news service
        * Kelly Young

A trio of mini-satellites has failed in their attempt to deploy a kilometre-long tether in space.

The setback means the low-cost Multi-Application Survivable Tether (MAST) experiment, launched on 17 April, may not achieve its goal of testing the survivability of a thin, braided tether in space.

Over the past week, mission managers determined that the tether-deploying element, known as Ted, had properly separated from the tether inspector, a tiny satellite called Gadget. But a glitch in the restraint system kept Ted from pushing away hard enough to keep unreeling the tether from its spool. So the tether deployed just a few metres, rather than a full kilometre.

Robert Hoyt, chief executive officer of Tethers Unlimited, which designed the picosatellites, says mission managers suspect they know what caused the glitch, but the company is not ready to disclose this to the public yet. "I don't think we'll ever know for sure," he says.

Space tethers could one day be used to fling satellites into different orbits, thus saving satellite companies money on fuel.

Or tethers could enable clusters of satellites to fly in formation and prevent them from drifting away from one another over time. Such an application might be useful in interferometry, where images from several telescopes, spaced some distance apart, are combined to give greater resolution.
Some data

Despite the setback, the MAST team at Tethers Unlimited, a company in Bothell, Washington, US, still may be able to get other data from Gadget to learn how a short tether behaves in microgravity.

MAST team members discussed having Gadget crawl down the tether to Ted to try to restart the deployment, but they decided that option was too risky. "If we were to have Gadget start to crawl, there is the possibility of the satellites banging together, which would be very likely to damage solar cells and other systems," Hoyt says.

This was not the first setback for the mission, which costs less than $1 million. After launch, the satellite team could not get a signal from Ted (see No signal yet heard from tether-deploying satellite). But they said that this should not have affected Ted's ability to deploy the tether.
Longest tether

Then, sky watchers who had been on the lookout for the deployed tether and satellites from the ground had not seen anything when MAST was scheduled to appear overhead. "That's one confirmation that the tether is not deployed to a very long length," Hoyt told New Scientist.

In other space tether news, the longest planned space tether just got a little closer to launch. The satellite, a project of 500 students in Europe known as Young Engineers Satellite 2 (YES2), was shipped to its launch site in Russia from the Netherlands on 10 May.

YES2, a project of the European Space Agency, is scheduled to launch in September. If everything goes as planned, the satellite will unroll a 30-kilometre-long tether that is a mere 0.5 millimetres thick. The end of the tether will be attached to a small round capsule called Fotino that will eventually re-enter Earth's atmosphere and attempt to land

Story is not complete (5, Funny)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756037)

The rope did not only not unwind fully, it started going back into the spacecraft. Representatives from the manufactuer of the rope-unwinding mechanism, Duncan YY Heavy Industries, were unavailable for comment.

Re:Story is not complete (1)

aero6dof (415422) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756309)

Duncan YY Heavy Industries, were unavailable for comment.

I heard that they barely beat out YoYoDyne unwinder contract.

Ricky Jay Started a space company a few years back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756045)

They had a plan for launching playing cards back to earth from a satellite.

They went under because they vastly overestimated the market for deorbiting playing cards. Perhaps with the new uptick in texas holdem, this might make economic sense again.

Obligatory obligatory (0)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756053)

Queue stupid 'In Soviet Russia...' jokes in:
5....
4...
3..
2.
1

Re:Obligatory obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756217)

In Soviet Russia, stupid jokes queue you.

Re:Obligatory obligatory - In Soviet Russia . . . (1)

nevermore94 (789194) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756321)

In Soviet Russia, space rope tricks you. (Didn't want to leave ya hangin.)

Re:Obligatory obligatory - In Soviet Russia . . . (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756337)

Yeah, fair enough. I deserved that...

Re:Obligatory obligatory (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756671)

We can clearly see that the "stupid" count-down joke has already taken off.

Some of us actually LIKE the "Soviet Russia" jokes...

converse project also fails (1)

kj_in_ottawa (838840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756055)

The other half of the space exploration on a string program previously failed, when Russian Scientists discovered they could only push the space probe approximately 3 cms with the fibre.

Simple to fix (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756065)

Hang a stinky nigger from the rope. Works every time!

/Logic

The Proper Way to Do It (2, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756071)

If they bothered to do some research [wikipedia.org] they would've found out that the way to do this is to sit in a cloth, put on a turban, and play a flute in front of a basket with a rope coiled in it until it went up into the sky. Then you have a little kid climb up it.

Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756097)

they needed to get Haji on the issue.

Spooling is hard (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756119)

Managing big spools of line is surprisingly difficult. Oceanographers run into this all the time, as they try to lower a few miles of line into the ocean. The textile industry runs into it when they try to use very large spools so they can run machinery longer without splicing. Designing something to unspool 30Km of line under near-zero tension in zero G is non-trivial.

Here's a discussion of spool winding [amacoil.com] , if you're really interested. There are even companies that specialize in spool winding [independentusa.com] .

Re:Spooling is hard (2, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756277)

"The whale line is only two thirds of an inch in thickness. At first sight, you would not think it so strong as it really is. By experiment its one and fifty yarns will each suspend a weight of one hundred and twenty pounds; so that the whole rope will bear a strain nearly equal to three tons. In length, the common sperm whale-line measures something over two hundred fathoms. Towards the stern of the boat it is spirally coiled away in the tub, not like the worm-pipe of a still though, but so as to form one round, cheese-shaped mass of densely bedded sheaves, or layers of concentric spiralizations, without any hollow but the heart, or minute vertical tube formed at the axis of the cheese. As the least tangle or kink in the coiling would, in running out, infallibly take somebody's arm, leg, or entire body off, the utmost precaution is used in stowing the line in its tub. Some harpooneers will consume almost an entire morning in this business, carrying the line high aloft and then reeving it downwards through a block towards the tub, so as in the act of coiling to free it from all possible wrinkles and twists."

--Herman Melville, "Moby-Dick, or the Whale"

Re:Spooling is hard (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756395)

Designing something to unspool 30Km of line under near-zero tension in zero G is non-trivial.

then put a heavy weight on the other end.... DUH. why dont these scientists think of these things!

Re:Spooling is hard (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756645)

then put a heavy weight on the other end

      I assume you were being sarcastic. At least I hope so!

They needed Slim Pickins (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756127)

Just to kick on the bit that didn't uncoil and ride it all the way down, waving his cowboy hat.

Weird reversal of space pen gag (3, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756319)

In Russia, they spend millions of dollars developing space cable to lower object from space. In America, we just wait for gravity to bring it down!

oblig ISR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756359)

In Soviet Russia, rope unwinds you!

confused? (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756419)

I'm not sure I get this one bit... In my mind I'm taking this to mean that a big ball will be let down from a satellite hanging on a 18 mile long cord that eventually clips off and falls to earth. Does this cord break up or give people the lashing of a lifetime? Even better could we anchor it on the ground and hook an elevator up to it?

"It could be that the tether got stuck," (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756563)

People, please think about that, the next time you put off trimming your trees. It's not just about the neighborhood kids' kites anymore.

They were actually pretty close (2, Funny)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756811)

Since 30000 feet = 9.14km...

Ah wait...

This isn't NASA.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Russian mission control, but ESA Student satellite (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20756835)

The space rope trick was actually an ESA students project: YES2 [esa.int] , the second Young Engineers Satellite.

According to the article [esa.int] at ESA:

The Second Young Engineers' Satellite (YES2) was activated and separated from the Foton-M3 spacecraft earlier today. The tether deployed for 8.5 km, after which the Fotino capsule was released on its way to Earth.

"We are very proud of the students' work, although we didn't reach the full 30 km deployment" said Roger Walker, YES2 project manager for ESA's Education Office. "The hard work of the YES2 team over the past five years has paid off with this largely successful demonstration."

YES2 was part of the Foton-M3 [esa.int] experiment, which concluded succesfully today.

The reentry capsule for the Foton-M3 spacecraft, which has been in low-Earth orbit for the last 12 days, successfully landed this morning in an uninhabited area 150 km south of the town of Kustanay in Kazakhstan, close to the Russian border, at 09:58 CEST, 13:58 local time.

The unmanned Foton spacecraft, which was launched on 14 September from Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, carried a payload of 43 European experiments in a range of scientific disciplines - including fluid physics, biology, crystal growth, radiation exposure and exobiology.

Why the submitter didn't link to ESA is beyond me.

Low use rope skill? (1)

Sheik Yerbouti (96423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756871)

Because that is definitely a DC 20 attempt.

Goes Awry? (1)

LanceUppercut (766964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20756905)

What is this nonsense? Another bit of propaganda? The success of the experiment itself does not include the rope unwinding fully (or not unwinding fully). That's completely secondary. The success of the experiment depends only on the payload returning to Earth successfully. Period. If it returns, then the experiment is 100% successful. How much of the rope unwinds in this case makes absolutely no difference, especially taking into account the fact that no one knows yet how much is really necessary. That's actually one of the things they are trying to determine by this experiment in the first place.
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