Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Student Designs and Builds Space Mail System

This is quite an interesting story. On Septenber 25 a student's project began unwinding from a Russian-built Foton-M3 spacecraft on a 19.7-mile-long (31.7 km) super-strong space tether no thicker than a string. The experiment's capsule dropped toward Earth, preparing to release at the right moment for re-entry into the atmosphere. The purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate a space mail system for delivering packages to exact locations from space. The experiment was thought to have been runied when critical telemetry sensors on the tether deployment mechanism shut down. That left the onboard computer unable to control how quickly the space tether unwound from its spool. The team later realized that the spool had unwound all of the way. The tether broke the record for the longest man-made object flown in space and though they could not locate the actual capsule, the tether "performed amazingly" and the team cheered the experiment as success. I think that this could turn into something very interesting, can you imagine packages falling from the heavens and even spacecraft being slingshotted into new orbits and near other planets. Only time will tell.

The Fool

No comments: