# How would I go about creating a computer simulation for a Space Elevator?

1. Aug 23, 2011

### EagarToLearn

I want to create a computer simulation of the Space Elevator, simulating if different materials would be able to handle the tension, and whether the whole thing would be able to function efficiently through the gravitational field.

Anyone how I can go about doing this, and what software to use? :/

2. Aug 23, 2011

### sophiecentaur

"efficiently through the gravitational field"? I'm not sure what you can mean by that.

Before launching into a simulation (which might only be a rotating disc with a line from it to a smaller orbiting disc, several radii distant(?). It would be an idea to do some calculations with density, modulus and tensile strength first. That would be what determines whether the thing would collapse or the end would go spinning off into orbit. Or was that what you wanted to simulate? Could be entertaining. You would have to be a but outrageous about choosing the physical properties for the tether because nothing strong enough exists yet.

3. Aug 23, 2011

### EagarToLearn

That's exactly it, I know nothing strong enough exists for the tether, but basically I want to create a simulation for different construction materials, [of course I plan on working out the properties such as tensile stress, density and modulus]. I don't really mind if the simulation doesn't actually show the end go spinning off into orbit. I just want it to display the reason certain materials would not work in the simulation.

I think I need to state that I am 17 years old heading into my second year of College, this is a completely new world I am exploring but this is a little project I set myself as I'm very interested in it.

4. Aug 23, 2011

### sophiecentaur

I should have thought that you need a calculation rather than a simulation. You may find calculating the tension on the tether a bit hard as each piece will have a different weight (the more distant parts being around 40Mm from the Earth's centre. Have you any Calculus?

5. Aug 23, 2011

### K^2

Start by learning to program. Come back in 2-3 years. I'm sorry, I cannot be more constructive on this. That's pretty much how it is if you want to be able to simulate something.

6. Aug 23, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

I agree that a calculation is what is needed. You can easily use a spreadsheet to calculate loads at regular intervals along the length of the elevator. I wouldnt even bother with the anchor: just assume the end is attached to "something" in geostationary orbit. This will give you an ide of the kind of strength to weight ratio needed.

Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
7. Aug 23, 2011

### sophiecentaur

Excel. Of course. It's what I do often for that sort of problem. Just think of a suitable expression for the forces on one piece at a height of, say 10km and then replicate 4,000 times.