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Ep. 21, Page 47
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Comic 1552 - Ep. 21, Page 47

7th Feb 2014, 6:34 AM in Episode 21 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)

Author Notes:

smbhax 7th Feb 2014, 6:34 AM edit delete
The sequence starting with this page of the webcomic "Paper Streamer At Def-Con 5" reminded me about some of the many flavors of non-rocket spacelaunch. Although things like a ground-to-orbit space elevator would require materials we haven't quite developed sufficiently yet--like maybe a huge carbon nanotube cable or something--there are lots of other uses for, say, space tethers, like electrodynamic tethers: "long conducting wires, such as one deployed from a tether satellite, which can operate on electromagnetic principles as generators, by converting their kinetic energy to electrical energy, or as motors, converting electrical energy to kinetic energy."

These long wires generate power by intersecting the Earth's magnetic field, and in fact there have been lots of space missions testing their usefulness. A lot of these test wires have tended to have trouble deploying, or have snapped; you can watch the attempted deployment of a 20 km tether during Space Shuttle mission 75, in February 1996, right here (spoiler: it doesn't *quite* make it).

Also in '96, the US Navy launched the Tether Physics and Survivability Experiment (TiPS); its 4 km tether between two test objects was predicted to hold up for just a few years, but it didn't snap until July 2006, after 10 years of test service, a demonstration of the feasibility of long-term space tether use.

On the 28th of this very month, Japan is scheduled to launch a 300 meter electrodynamic tether with the intent of attaching it to a dead satellite, "generating current as it rotates, and decelerating the piece of space junk to bring it into a successively lower orbit until in reenters the atmosphere."

The future of space could be lots of tethers!


Probably tried to overshade today's page; detailed shading works better than it did on my previous paper, but it came out really boring, like paint-by-numbers, so I tossed the remains of my palette on it, then slashed at it with white ink for a while in an attempt to spice things up. Probably should'a just done a light wash over the pencils--which I took an Instagram of, but that didn't work all that great either : P:


Oh well I guess this is how I learn things. That, and Wikipedia. : P


gary cramer 7th Feb 2014, 10:35 AM edit delete reply
gary cramer
Ben, this one stands out for me, maybe because you tightened things up a little, more detail. It hits you in a direct way when you open the page!!
smbhax 8th Feb 2014, 8:40 AM edit delete reply
Hm, I'm glad you said that, I got kind of antsy working that tight and wasn't sure it was the right way to go : o
moizmad 7th Feb 2014, 11:15 AM edit delete reply
How does this schmuck get 2 girls?
smbhax 8th Feb 2014, 8:40 AM edit delete reply
He takes hits like a champ!