COPERNICUS The Space Elevator


Exosphere’s Copernicus Series brings Exosphere’s entrepreneurial and experience-oriented philosophy of learning to science and technology in the aerospace field and helps bridge the gap between research and business, breaking down the silos of knowledge that have been built up in modern society. Among the goals of the Copernicus Series is to provide young people a hands-on learning experience that is directly connected to leading-edge research in science, which is usually only available to graduate and post-graduate students.

Exosphere’s thesis is that countless young people opt out of careers in science and technology because science education fails to expose them to the interesting applications of science to their life and the problems of the world. Furthermore, careers in science have come to be attached to a stigma concerning their earning potential, especially in traditional academia.

The mission of Exosphere’s Copernicus Series is to expose youths to the exciting potential of science and prepare them for success in a quickly changing world, while helping experienced researchers commercialize and profit from their innovations through entrepreneurship. Through this process, the program will serve as an ongoing, productive platform for building the requisite brain trust of experts and practitioners in academia and industry to provide the resources and know-how necessary for further development of space related technology into commercializable endeavors while advancing space research and raising awareness for space exploration.


The goal of the program is to design, build, and test virtual models and software libraries that model the technical development and surrounding economic environment of an Endogenously-Powered Space Elevator, which would utilize the energy generated by gravity using materials brought back to earth by space mining companies. This process would create an electrical loop, allowing satellites, scientific equipment, and other materials to be taken to space at near zero marginal cost. Split into two teams, the Technical Team and the Economics Team, the participants will further build mathematical models for an architecture capable of delivering these payloads into orbit.

Space mining companies will, in the near future, be delivering payloads from space back to earth, providing enormous quantities of potential “fuel” in the form of work done by the gravity of the falling payload. The thesis to be tested and developed by participants in Copernicus is that this energy can be harnessed using an electromagnetic drive to lift up payloads from earth.

The original concept for the Zero Energy Space Elevator actually comes to us from antiquity, when Roman scientists considered building an aqueduct harnessing the potential energy of falling rocks to move water upward. The Roman joke was that this “perpetual drive” will work until mountain ceases to be a mountain. Our objective is, among others, to deliver a payload to space in an economically viable way in cooperation with a space mining company, catalyzing the space exploration revolution, which today is held back almost singularly by the cost of catapulting payloads out of earth’s atmosphere using expensive rocket fuel.

The current concept of the space elevator includes a tether stretching from the surface of the Earth to geostationary orbit. To keep the tether taut with gravitational and rotational forces, the center of mass of the space elevator has to be kept above this orbit. A climber is attached to the tether, which carries the payload up to the space station or to a satellite. The energy supply in our hypothesis would be derived from the falling mass using electromagnetics or other potential mechanisms, making our hypothetical model bi-directional instead of uni-directional, as are most existing models. As there are multiple possibilities for achieving this, part of the challenge presented to participants of Copernicus is to model each possibility and analyse both the technical and economic benefits and challenges of each.

At the end of the program the participants will attempt to integrate the physical and economic models of the EPSE into a dynamic mathematical model using mechatronics concepts. Building on the results of this work, participants will write a final paper to be submitted to Open Access journals and scientific conferences.

Moritz Bierling, Copernicus Program Manager


Skype: bierlingm

Mobile: +56 9 8760 1666

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