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Electrodynamic Tethers: Getting into the Swing

Electrodynamic Tethers: Getting into the Swing
The Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost (MXER) Tether System could pick payloads up from a reusable launch vehicle in low Earth orbit and toss them to geosynchronous orbit. This idea could act as a Hypersonic Airplane Space Tether Orbital Launch system, or be utilized to handle other launch systems other than hypersonic airplanes. (Image credit: Tethers Unlimited, Inc.)
  • An EDT can generate electric current flow towards the planet; this can provide enough electricity to run experiments on board a satellite; this also causes the tether to experience a force from the planet's magnetic field that is opposite the tether's direction of motion. In other words, it slows the EDT system down (produces drag), lowering the EDT's orbit.
  • By adding a battery (or solar panel) to the EDT circuit, the induced current is overcome, reversing the current direction; the force experienced by the tether is now in the same direction as the EDT's motion. In other words, this produces thrust, raising its orbital attitude.

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Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science and