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Highest specific strength cable?

Highest specific strength cable?

Highest specific strength cable?


I'm looking into the feasibility of improving the performance of momentum exchange tethers and rotary launchers using new materials. Both of these applications are strongly limited by the maximum specific strength you can get and relatively insensitive to cost ($100,000 per kg might be reasonable even for large applications if the material is strong/light enough).

If I may ask, does anyone know of a commercially available fiber with a higher specific strength than Toray T1100G? Alternatively, have you read any papers about new materials with a higher specific strength that could realistically be turned into a functional cable?

Charlie West

I've attached a 1995 paper about rotary launchers so you can see (if you want) how strongly limited they are by cable strength.

RE: Highest specific strength cable?

I actually make carbon fiber cables and have, so far, found few real world applications due to cost and drawbacks that override the unique advantages.

Transferring load in and out of high strength cables is a real challenge, especially with fibers like carbon that do not have toughness, or great strength in the non-axial direction. Some of these issue will eventually be worked out through R&D. Zylon and UHMWPE fibers are very close to T-1100 in specific strength and their far higher toughness makes them more suitable for most cable applications. What few people realize is that the true unique property of carbon fiber, where it excels, is not really it's high strength but its high young's modulus.

RE: Highest specific strength cable?

Quote (Charles West)

momentum exchange tethers

Sounds like a $10 word for a slingshot

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Highest specific strength cable?

More like an orbital trebuchet, which are my favorite war engine.

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