On the MAST blog, they’re reporting that have seen mixed results so far. While they’ve been able to contact “Gadget” and download a lot of data from it, they’ve had only very limited success in actually deploying the tether. From the blog;
“Based upon the data we have, we have concluded that Ted did separate from Gadget and begin to deploy the tether. However, a problem with the restraint system prevented Ted from ejecting smoothly, and as a result Ted was pushed away with too little momentum to continue pulling the tether off of the deployer spool. As a result, the deployment halted almost immediately. Our analysis of the magnetometer data we have downloaded from Gadget reveals that the tethered system is rotating slowly, but the length of tether connecting the two bodies is very short. At this point, we believe there is not enough energy in the rotation to pull more tether off of the spool. This is certainly disappointing, as it means that obtaining data on tether survivability may not be possible, but nonetheless we are obtaining interesting data that will be useful in validating models of the behavior of tethered spacecraft.”
This is disappointing, of course, for the Space Elevator community; being able to successfully unspool the Space Elevator ribbon in space will be a necessary requirement for its deployment and it would have been truly wonderful to get some data on how tethers surive in space. Nevertheless, the fact that they were able to successfully launch this experiment and have some success with it should go a long way towards having an even more successful experiment the next time around. Congratulations here are certainly richly deserved…
Read the whole post here.