Space Worm Muscle Rope!

Mar 5, 2020
I read about an experiment that tried to use the Earth’s magnetic field for propulsion by using a long wire carrying a current that would be emitted at the end by a thermionic tube. The idea was to create a motor effect between the wire’s current and the Earth’s magnetic field.

It was a disaster because they were unable to unspool the wire.

On Earth minor forces like static charges on ropes can mostly be ignored. On Earth you can also use weights or small rockets to throw wire or line for long distances.

In space rope or wire are nearly useless. It kinks, balls up, or decides to wrap around you.

What if you could design a rope that could be deployed in a straight line in space?

What if you gave rope the musculature of a worm? Imagine you had disks sequentially attached to a rope or wire. These disks could have three or four electrically insulated conductive surfaces which could be independently charged. The discs are spaced closely enough that the charged disks could produce enough force to slightly bend the rope.

If each disk section were assigned an address then each disk could be independently charged causing the rope to bend in a designated direction. This could cause the rope to bend or it could be used to stabilize the rope to form a straight line.

Space worm muscle rope!

Can any of you highly educated primates make it better?


Apr 1, 2020
Well I certainly do not qualify as one of the highly educated primates. Heck, I doubt I'd even qualify as one of the moderately educated canines (MEC)!. If I remember correctly, the experiment you're referring to wasn't for propulsion, but from electrical energy generation. Even if we're thinking of different experiments, I would think that your "worm" would need to be towed behind an orbiting vehicle and the fluctuations of the worm segments would make that vehicle extremely unstable.

Of course, I could be completely wrong here (Me<MEC), but that's what my brain thinks.

-Wolf sends
Mar 5, 2020
Ok, I take back the primates part.

Before you can colonize worlds, you have to be able to do a lot of simple tasks quickly and efficiently. A lot of the tools and techniques used on Earth took centuries to reach their current state. For space we need to accelerate the development of basic tools and techniques.

Being able to move around the outside of a spacecraft or an asteroid mine without using any volatiles is one example. Stealing from Spider Man the Dr. Octopus concept would allow movement using widely spaced hand holds or anchors.

Space worm ropes (more like tentacles) allow a long reach. If you are not fighting gravity the tentacle only has to overcome its own resistance to reach out and grab something.

Second iteration. Change name from space worm to space tentacle (following science fiction tradition).

Being a semi intelligent structure it has a lot of flexibility but not a lot of strength. The tentacle must not be subjected to the full stresses of a standard rope. This would also seem to rule out placement within the core of a standard rope.

To stay within its physical limitations, it might be best for the tentacle to escort a standard rope or wire.

If the rope had a shielded groove the tentacle might rest in that groove. The tentacle could expand segments to lock into the groove. The tentacle can be joined to the rope as both of them are being unspooled.

By deflating the locking segments and unwinding it can pull itself out of the groove. The tentacle does not need to be dedicated to a single rope. In this form the tentacle can be used to deploy multiple ropes to an independent body at short ranges.

As a concept the tentacle appears promising. As for being functional technology it is barely a 2 on a 10 point scale.
Mar 5, 2020
This concept has too many fatal flaws.

No mechanism for controlling oscillations. In space, if it can oscillate, it will oscillate.

Control density is way too high, overly complex.

May move to something like a Triangular Truss/Column design.