Dynamics of Space Elevator After Tether Rupture

Vladimir S. Aslanov, Alexander S. Ledkov, Arun K. Misra, and Anna D. Guerman "Dynamics of Space Elevator After Tether Rupture," Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2013, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp. 986-992, Doi: 0.2514/1.59378

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This paper presents a study of space elevator dynamics after the tether rupture due to its collision with a piece of space debris. The flexible heavy tether is modeled by a set of massive points connected by massless viscous bars. The tether is assumed to break at the geostationary orbit; its consequent motion is subject to gravitational and aerodynamic forces. Numerical simulation shows that, after entering the atmosphere, the majority of the tether segments are broken down by aerodynamic forces and smoothly descend to the Earth’s surface. This process is accompanied by the formation of large loops, some of which can get beyond the atmosphere. Meanwhile, some parts of the tether reach the surface of the Earth with considerable speed, jeopardizing both spaceborne and ground objects in the equatorial plane.


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