New Space Program Development: The Origami Space Tether

In a partnership between NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, astronomers have come up with yet another way of tethering objects to space shuttles in outer space. However, the new method of tethering is quite different from anything proposed thus far. Although a tether is a tether, this new tether is no wider or thicker than a measuring tape, much unlike the thick, braided metal tethers used in years past. Stretching up to a mile, the tether actually utilizes a reverse origami technique of deployment that will shoot the tether its full distance within a matter of a few minutes.

Scientists refer to the new tether system as Fortissimo, which refers to the musical notation of ff, meaning “very strong.” The actual name of the tether is Foldaway Flat Tether Deployment System. Developed by researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Tokyo Metropolitan University (funded by NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), the tether is folded back on itself in an outer casing, much like an accordion. When the astronauts are ready to deploy Fortissimo, the tether is attached to the object. Because of the folded nature of the tether, it can be released very quickly, which is where the reverse origami comes into play.

But the tether doesn’t just tie two spacecraft together. Fortissimo can actually decelerate and accelerate objects in orbit, theoretically. This is because the Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field. Plus, the upper atmosphere, called the ionosphere, is a layer of electrically charged gases. Because the tether is made of a special type of metal, when this “wire” cuts through the Earth’s magnetic field and ionosphere, an electrical charge will be produced in the wire, which is nothing more than a giant version of an electromagnet, such as those used in automobile junkyards. This electrical current can then be harnessed and directed either toward or away from the tethered object, in theory speeding up or slowing down its orbit. Thus, orbiting objects will be able to be quickly and precisely retired from orbit, or readjusted in orbit in order to ensure that the object stays in orbit instead of crashing to Earth.

Of course, much more work will need to be conducted on the tether before it is launched for the first time in 2009. Further testing will include both vacuum and weightless environments, as well as experiments regarding friction and electrostatic charging. The official first launch into outer space will still be nothing more than an experiment to determine how fast the tether can actually be discharged, and if it really can alter the velocity of an object. Overall, the launch will last only five minutes: from the initial entry into space at 62 miles until the apex of its launch at 186 miles, before it falls back to Earth and is destroyed at re-entry. The ratings and rakings of the low-code application development should be checked through the enterprises for modern development. The charges charged for the development will be under the funds to the company. 

About Oblena

Janica Oblena is the writer of ‘Midnight Secrets’. She is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Journalism. She is currently the senior editor of
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