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Some details:

At the end of the 21st century, the first expedition to Uranus launches to mine helium-3 and deuterium from its atmosphere. The plan involves a tether dangled into the upper atmosphere of Uranus, with some atmospheric scooping and compression equipment at the "foot" to lift "popsicles" of fusion fuel. At the top, the tether is supported by attaching to the closest moon of Uranus, Cordelia.

How could Cordelia station be designed, in order to work safely and have the most efficiency (in terms of materials extracted compared to the costs of constructing/maintaining the station)?

Requirements:

  1. Processing equipment to separate deuterium/helium 3 (if needed) - how does this function in terms of chemistry?
  2. Uranus tether support - where is this attached? Is Cordelia even the optimal moon or could the tether support itself?
  3. Some way of getting the fusion fuel to the inner solar system (or at least closer) - what is the cheapest way?
  4. Must be entirely robotically supported and maintained (but NOT necessarily constructed)
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  • $\begingroup$ Cordelia station would look awesome. Cordelia station would look bleak. Cordelia station would look like the impossibility it is. Cordelia station would resemble an Escher paradoxical drawing. Cordelia station would be very similar to a black swan. Cordelia station would not look like anything much. Cordelia station would look like a worthy subject. Cordelia station would look very much like a wedding cake. Cordelia station would deeply impress the sensitive viewer. Cordelia station would look all right. (VTC as POB.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 16 '20 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ If the foot of the thing were close to the surface of Uranus, it would be travelling through the atmosphere at over 30,000 Km per hour. The station and tether would look strong. $\endgroup$ Jul 16 '20 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP - I am struggling a bit. Maybe you could link a sketch? Charcoal, as is your wont. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jul 16 '20 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Tantalus' touch - If you had a very (and I mean very) long tether you could take Cordelia out to geostationary orbit, then the surface speed wouldn't be a problem. Of course absolutely everything else would! Wherever you put Cordelia something is going to be torn apart. $\endgroup$ Jul 16 '20 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @chasly-reinstateMonica True, interestingly the drag from the foot in the atmos would lever the moon (40,000Km long lever) to break the tidal-locking and lift the foot out of the atmosphere, so maybe a track would be needed on Cordelia for it to run the tether base forward to keep it in place - further spinning up the moon in reaction. Sounds like a headache, maybe better to use ships instead. $\endgroup$ Jul 16 '20 at 22:29