Contents

Preface ix

1. The Basics 1 Orbits 1 Formation Flying 9 Safety Tethers 11 Artificial Gravity 13 Probe Towing 16 Comet and Asteroid Sample Return 17 Aerobraking 18 Artificial Gravity Assist 18 Momentum Exchange 20 Cable Catapults 22 Electrodynamic Tethers 23 Electrostatic Tethers 27 Beanstalks 29

2. Disruptive Technology 33

New Machines 33

Rocket Propulsion Limits and Limitations 34

Electric Propulsion 43

Solar Sailing 45

Another Way Forward 47

3. Dreams and Ideas 49

Visions of the Future 49

Fiction and Fascination 55

4. Early Experiments

Gemini 11

Gemini 12

59 59 63

Suborbital 65

Space Shuttle Experiments 70

Satellite Experiments 76

Still Learning 92

5. Into Earth Orbit and Beyond 93

De-Orbiting 93

Spacecraft Stabilization 98

Atmospheric Research 99

Let's Stay Together 101

Gravity in Space 106

One Up, One Down 111

From the Ground Up 124

Tether Propulsion 130

Jupiter 134

Cleaning Up the Belts 138

6. Space Elevators 143

Who Wants a Space Elevator? 143

Building a Beanstalk 147

12,000,000th Floor: Space 153

Out of Order 162

Step by Step 166

Elevators on the Moon and Mars 169

The Aerovator Alternative 172

Space Elevator Versus the Aerovator 176

7. Challenges 179

Cable Material 179

Tether Stability and Control 182

Damage Protection 185

The Price Tag 188

8. Conclusion 193

More to Read 194

Bibliography 197

Books and Reports 197

Papers, Articles, and Presentations 199

Webpages 209

Index 213

To Lucas and Thijs, who may ride a space elevator one day.

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