Safe Space Elevator - An Expectation to be met Through a System Architecture Approach

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C. Swan; P. A. Swan (2006), JBIS, 59, 331-337

Refcode: 2006.59.331
Keywords: Space elevator, systems architecture, LEO, GEO, debris, ribbon design, safe, space policy, systems engineering, space systems survivability

Abstract:
The expectation by the public of the safety of an elevator is “no worries.” Everyone expects to arrive safely when riding an elevator... even a Space Elevator. As such, the survival of the Space Elevator must also have extremely high expectation levels. The Space Elevator is now a real engineering project and is indeed one of the latest projects being considered within NASA as a new technology path. It should also be considered across the international space infrastructure as a potential breakthrough. To enable this remarkable engineering feat, on a par with linking of Gibraltar to Morocco, an architectural approach must be used to ensure the safe operation of a Space Elevator. This paper discusses the various aspects of a Space Elevator's survival plan. Appropriate methodologies will be applied to the Space Elevator depending upon unique threat regions: Low Earth Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit, Geosynchronous Orbit, and Super Geo Orbits. Key to the acceptance of any Space Elevator concept will be a systems approach across the total architecture for identifying and reducing risks. Indeed, a systems approach to the Space Elevator survival problem will change the issue from one that seems overwhelming to a recognizable risk issue that is well within current technologies and operational approaches. The expectation of a safe elevator ride is a must!

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