Whatever Happened to the Skyhook?

David P. Campbell

In February 1966, Science, perhaps the world's most prestigious scientific journal, published a short report entitled “Satellite Elongation into a True ‘Sky-Hook.’” In two pages dense with scientific tables and formulas, the authors suggested a remarkable idea—basically that a satellite could be suspended roughly 25,000 miles above the earth in a synchronous orbit, with a cable dropping down to the earth and a balancing cable sticking out of the other side into space, thus creating a stable, permanent skyhook.

The authors were John D. Isaacs, Hugh Bradner, and George E. Backus from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in La Jolla, and Allyn C. Vine ...

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