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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Japan has launched a miniature space elevator

• by Lisa Grossman

A pair of tiny satellites that will help test technology for a space elevator is on its way to the International Space Station.

At 1:52 p.m. EDT on September 22, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a rocket carrying the STARS-Me experiment from the island of Tanegashima.

STARS-Me (or Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite – Mini elevator), built by engineers at Shizuoka University in Japan, is comprised of two 10-centimeter cubic satellites connected by a 10-meter-long tether. A small robot representing an elevator car, about 3 centimeters across and 6 centimeters tall, will move up and down the cable using a motor as the experiment floats in space.

Previous experiments, including three other STARS setups, have flown satellites tethered with a cable, but STARS-Me is the first to test movement along the cable in space.

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