KNOWLTON.WORK celebrates student work from the 2019-2020 academic year at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University.

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Karen Lewis

The Momentum Exchange Tether, or skyhook, reduces the cost of getting payloads into low-Earth orbit. Fundamentally, it operates by connecting a ‘hook’ mechanism opposite a heavy counterweight, with an orbiting station as a center of mass on which the system rotates. The skyhook is a natural steppingstone in enhancing space exploration before constructing a space elevator, as the skyhook requires far less material to build.


The terran-based infrastructure that would accommodate the skyhook could merge almost seamlessly with existing airport systems.


In order to maintain its own momentum in orbit, a balanced transfer of momentums between outgoing and incoming spacecraft will be important - though the system assumes having some sort of on-board failsafe options to keep the skyhook from falling into the atmosphere.


Exchanges can be built on nearby planets, their moons, or other satellites. Not only would this better enable cheaper landing and takeoff from these checkpoints, but the skyhook system could also double as a father method of accelerating spacecraft intent on longer journeys.

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