Space Whip

The core concept is to accelerate small space probes using kinetical wave travelling through long and thin carbon thread, 'space whip'. You attach rocket to one end of the whip, and capsule to another. The rocket flies off in pre-determined trajectory, sending kinetic wave through the whip. Kinetic energy is concentrated on the probe, hopefully accelerating probe to many times rocket speed. Real whips are tapered on the end - the diameter decreases as you approach the fast end of whip. But as simulation shows, this is not essential to the whip effect.
I posted essay about this project to SUCCESS Student Contest organised by European Space Agency, http://spaceflight.esa.int/users/success
and visited Cologne, Germany. :-)

From there You can download
simulator softwarecompiled for DOS (runs under windows 95, 98, ME, might run or not under windows 2000),
cwsdpmi (required to run it),
sources of this program (pascal), another sources, unit Runge  (methods for differential equations)
Download simulator and cwsdpmi, check for viruses, run program, select videomode, and press [enter].

Some shots from simulator:

simulator screenshot
(wave is going towards the end)
simulator screenshot
(wave near end-of-whip)
simulator screenshot
(whip broke in 2 points)
simulator screenshot
3D graph of speed in the whip.
simulator screenshot
Another graph.
In this case, maximal speed of rocket end was 2km/s and of capsule end 15..17 km/s. Not so bad, at all. Achieving 2km per second with rocket is much easier than 17km per second.
Due to shortage of time, gravitational assist configurations were not studied. I may return to the concept someday and try it out - this could be made to work as practical space slingshot utilizing energy of the earth-moon system to propel spacecraft at vrey big speeds for free. Ideally, something like this could be used to pick up objects directly from the moon surface, using counter-wave to temporarely stop the end of cable at the moon surface for pickup.

2 relevant sites:
http://www.SpaceTethers.com and http://www.Tethers.com
Apparently NASA spent substantial sum of money on this concept...
Afterwards, ESA changed the plans, as they said, all projects were quite impressively good, and not only top 14 but all second phase participants including me were invited to Award Event, in Cologne (Germany).
It was really great...DOM (Cathedral) is really great building! It was really nice to meet and interact with other European students, scientists, and astronauts. I were the youngest student who passed to second phase :) so I got some bit of attention.

This project was very good for my education, I studied numerical simulation methods and used those in practice to model the kinetic wave in the whip.

(C) 2004..2013 Dmytry Lavrov.
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