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NASA Space Science

NASA Tests New Moon Engine 75

Iddo Genuth writes "Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of West Palm Beach, Florida has successfully completed the third round of its Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) testing for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). CECE is a new deep throttling engine designed to reduce thrust and allow a spacecraft to land gently on the moon, Mars, or some other non-terrestrial surface." NASA is also set to launch a new satellite on Tuesday — the Orbital Carbon Observatory — that will monitor the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. On the research front, NASA has announced this year's Centennial Challenges. $2 million in prizes are available for a major breakthrough in tether strength (one of the major obstacles for developing a space elevator), and another $2 million is being offered to competitors who are able to beam power to a device climbing a cable at a height of up to one kilometer.
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NASA Tests New Moon Engine

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  • by ThreeGigs ( 239452 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @04:23PM (#26943181)

    Actually, it makes the most sense (to me) not to use a powered 'climber' at all.

    If the space elevator is ever deployed, instead of dropping a single tether down to Earth, they should drop a LOOP. Run the bottom of the loop around a pulley on Earth, and the top through a pulley on the counterweight in space. Add a motor to the pulley on Earth and you've got one half constantly going up, and the other half constantly going down.

    All a 'climber' would then have to do is clamp onto the cable and allow itself to be pulled up, and unclamp at the appropriate time in space. So... no need for motors on the 'climber', no need for an energy receiver on the climber, no need for beam generators anywhere. Essentially turning the "Space Elevator" into the "Space Ski Lift".

    The only engineering challenge I can think of would be preventing the up-going side from touching, or coming too near the down-going side. Potentially solved with two pulleys each on the ground and in space, each pair a kilometer or more apart so the 'tether' goes down, across, and then back up.

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