This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  scottsigler 4 years, 4 months ago.

Hudson Bay Space Elevator – Can't Happen

  • Tell that to the antigrav engineers that made it. The FTL creators will back them up.

    I just finished The Rookie and quite enjoyed it (despite not liking football much at all). However I was irritated by the “Hudson Bay Space Elevator”. It dragged me completely out of the story. It just can’t happen.

    Space elevators are a real idea and we may eventually build one but all space elevators will terminate on the equator. This is because the only geosynchronous orbits possible around any planet are above its equator. You can’t put a satellite in geosynchronous orbit over a pole (i.e. north pole or south pole). This is obvious if you try to visualize the orbit around the pole. Similarly there are no geosynchronous orbits for any latitudes other than 0 degrees (i.e. on the equator). As you move away from the equator the orbit will appear less and less “stationary” (or “synchronous”) from the point of view of the surface of the Earth.

    Hudson Bay is at 60 degrees North latitude. There’s just no way to anchor a space elevator at Hudson Bay with a satellite or a counterweight. And if you tried to build from Hudson Bay to a satellite at the equator (with the counterbalance going south of the equator) the forces don’t balance. Instead their would be a huge torque on the elevator (let alone no feasible way to build the elevator that far north).

    Apologies if someone already covered this. I did a search for “space elevator” (and some other terms like “orbital elevator” and “Hudson Bay”) on siglerpedia and in these forums but nothing about this popped up.

    Thinking that one can go into geosynchronous orbit over any point on a planet seems to be a common mistake in science fiction (I think they even made this mistake on a few of the old Star Trek shows) but I expect more from Sigler. 🙂

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