I present a summary of my most recent research. One of the most surprising things is that this fundamental mechanical analysis had not been documented yet. You station a climber at some location on the tether, and what will the new equilibrium state of the tether be? Will it stretch more or less and in what locations? What are the changes in stress and tension throughout the tether?
The results are as follows:
- If a climber is stationed below GEO, the tension in the tether below it is reduced, and there is a decrease in extension - if the climber is above GEO, the tension below the climber is increased, and there is an increase in extension. In either case, the portion of tether beyond the climber displaces up or down as a unit, by tens of kilometers.
- A decrease in tension is a concern because if it disappears altogether, there can be no equilibrium; the tether is no longer taught. This places a limit on the climber's mass.
- An increase in tension means an increase in stress, which must be accounted for when sizing the tether and climber.