Tethered satellite technology has the potential to revolutionize our presence in space. This paper provides an overview of the dynamics and applications of tethers in space. Experiments, patents, and papers are reviewed to provide an overview of the current status of tether technology. Key application areas that are reviewed include deployment, electrodynamics, momentum-exchange, and the space elevator. Among the most promising applications for near-term exploitation are electrodynamic orbital maneuvering of satellites with little or no propellant, and momentum-exchange tethers capable of injecting payloads into different orbits. This paper illustrates that these applications have a solid theoretical basis, as well as supporting empirical flight data.
Keywords: Tethered satellites, space tethers, electrodynamics, deployment, momentum-exchange, spacecraft, Earth's equator, Lagrangian approach, longitudinal elasticity, stress-strain nonlinearity, Longitudinal tether vibrations
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