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Japan To Test Mini “Cosmic Elevator” In World First

A Japanese team of researchers at Shizuoka University will experiment this month in low-Earth orbit to eventually develop a “cosmic elevator” connecting Earth and the space station by cable.

The International Space Station (ISS) will launch two miniature satellites later this month, tied together by a 10-meter long steel cable, as it is the first step towards what could eventually become a large space elevator in the decades to come.

According to a report in Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun news service, two ultra-small cubic satellites, which were developed by Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering, will be released from the ISS after September 11, joined together via a 10-meter-long steel cable.

Once released from the ISS, the satellites will deploy the cable and a motorized container simulating an elevator car. A series of tests will be conducted with the container moving up and down on the wire, as sensors on the satellites will record the movements of the object in a weightlessness environment.

Mainichi Shimbun notes that an experiment to extend a cable in space has been carried out before, the upcoming test will be the first to move a container on a wire in low-Earth orbit. If all goes well, it will provide proof of concept, as it will serve as a step forward toward realizing cosmic elevators.

“In theory, a space elevator is highly plausible. Space travel may become something popular in the future,” said Yoji Ishikawa, 63, who leads the research team.

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