Wilsons String

Avatar Author: Radical Yellow Duck Ok, I'm back. One heart attack, a triple CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, pronounced cabbage) and two sessions of beating my computer into submission. I am back. I'm old. Real old. I'm so old I remember when dial... Read Bio

He held the string. It looked for all the world like a piece of black monofilament fishing line. “This is how you are going to get to mars?”

“Prestressed steel strands will break at about 1860 MPascals. For carbon nanotube the theoretical limit is about 33 times that at one sixth the weight. Our processes uses multiple layering, interlocked on a molecular level. We’ve been able to improve the tensile strengths by 17 times. And in theory, could get levels 120 times stronger.”

“So assuming you could make a cable stretch from a stationary satellite to the surface of mars, how much would it weigh?”

“The cable itself would mass about 75,000 tons.”

“It cost us $10,000 a pound to get things into low earth orbit! You want to send 75,000 TONS to mars! Do you have any idea of the cost?”

“Yes sir. It would be cost prohibitive. That is, if we were to send material for the cable from earth. We want to manufacture the cable in situ with local materials.”

“Where are you getting the carbon?”

“Deimos”, said Wilson.

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Comments (4 so far!)

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  1. Ahfl_icon THX 0477

    Daring and creative, though I have no idea if realistically scientific. Still a fun idea around the problem presented.

  2. Avatar Radical Yellow Duck

    The problems presented in Wilsons idea are real. Landing mulit ton craft safely on the surface of mars is something we don’t yet know how to do. The limitations we face are real. The strength of the prestressed steel wire strands is accurate, as is the theoretical limit for carbon nanotubes. The improved nanotube strength and the mass of the cable, well I just made a guess. I dont have any real figures for those, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. I originally thought of phobos as the moon to go to, but deimos is almost in syncronus orbit with mars, just a little too far out. Probably a better place to start, less delta v required to get into the orbit you want. But as Phobos is much closer to mars and moving faster, it may present a problem for the cable. I have to think about that for a bit to see how it would play out.

  3. Avatar Abstract

    You could escape Deimos’ gravity well just by riding a bicycle off of a ramp.

    Why not just have the carbon from Deimos shipped to Phobos? Would the ∆V problem be less than it would be for Earth?

    Thought: Take some excess Demios carbon, make a pusher plate for it, and then nudge it into Phobos’ orbit via a jury-rigged Orion drive…

    (Sorry for my rambling!)

  4. Avatar Abstract

    Or maybe nudge Phobos into a different orbit, placing the pusher plate inside Stickney…

Inspired by

So the problem is Mars has the wrong amount of atmosphere. We’ve been able to land there before, she replied. Nothing this heavy. We could us...

Wilson's idea by Radical Yellow Duck

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