Our Science vol. 1033

15/3/2019 - Our Science Volume 1033 is available on the official Japanese website for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Like other types of media that can be found on the official Japanese websites for the Ace Combat series, Our Science is a fictional magazine based in the original world of Ace Combat known as Strangereal. The following is a unofficial translation of an article in this magazine which presents canon information about the International Space Elevator featured in Ace Combat 7. Skyward Flight Media does not claim ownership of the original source material used to create this translation. 

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Selatapura, a port city located on the Usean continent equator. Off its coast, a tall tower stands above the surroundings. The cables extending from the top of the tower disappears into the sky before dawn and leads to the even more distant world of the stars. The “Space Elevator,” humanity’s first space highway system aiming for full-scale operation. This unprecedented megastructure will soon be completed.

Symbol of Continental Reconstruction

6 A.M. An ocean liner sets sail from the bustling Selatapura harbor. It’s about a 30-minute trip to the artificial island “Earthport.” We travel along the bridge spanning the sea, which is still under construction.
 
The people riding in the ship are migrant workers from all over the Usean Continent. A variety of languages and the scent of coffee mixed with the sea breeze spread from the bow of the ship. There is the coming and going of a vast number of container ships, distinctive of a trade port. Beyond this scene, the huge tower appears.
 
As the sun rises, the silhouette of the tower becomes clear. The top of that line heads straight to the ground from an altitude of 12,000m, and gradually forms arcs that connect to the horizon like the base of a mountain. I gasped at its majestic appearance.
 
Its size is overwhelming. And humans had made such a thing.

The patrol ships and oil tankers that were docking looked like small boats. Our ferry was unmanned, but if it wasn’t, a range finder would have been required. Some men in a ship we came across waved at my dumbfounded self.
 
“Those guys do a good job. They work quickly, which is quite different from our country since the elderly still have to work hard.” Doctor Bruman, head of the ISEV Construction Technology Research Institute who was accompanying me, laughed and waved back.  Apparently, construction at the site went on for a full 24 hours a day. The workforce was split up into 4 groups, and 3 times a day, a new group took over a shift.
 
As we approached the island and passed by the breakwater, a resort area that spread and wrapped around the outer circumference of the island could be seen. It was a great viewing area where the top of the tower could be seen if one laid on their backs on the grass. The ship slowly avoided the gantry cranes lined up on the container wharf and decelerated. I arrive at the pier.

When looking up after passing through the island entry control gate on the arrival floor, you are greeted by the 6 massive legs that support the elevator shaft stretching toward the heavens. It seemed like it would suck us up into space.
 
Advancements in science and technology are carried out steadily and will accomplish great achievements after a long journey. There is no mistake in that. However, this enormous tower where we are now did not exist a few years ago.
 
Furthermore, this area was damaged by the asteroid Ulysses like the rest of the Usea 19 years ago. Ulysses’ fragments impacted on the surface of the sea, and the city(ies) on Selatapura’s coastal area were devastated by the tsunamis that were generated. There were as many as 30,000 victims.
 
Additionally, due to exhaustion from a war caused by a refugee problem, reconstruction of the continent did not progress as expected.
 
How was such rapid reconstruction from adversity achieved? There, lies a clear-sighted national strategy that aimed for the “creation of a scientific and technological nation” and adopted an Usea reconstruction plan that involved a nation’s independence from a suzerain state [1] and use of foreign capital.

Made in Usea

The central lobby where weld sparks scatter. Interior construction is advancing at a quick pace to welcome in passengers. Yao, the young site foreman, talking to Doctor Bruman has an Erusean accent. Up until 12 years ago, when he [Yao] was a middle schooler, this was Erusean territory. The doctor explained ways of preventing electrical wiring errors in Erusean and slapped his back.

Humans focused on constructing areas that required high skill and taking measures against troubles that arose, while construction robots took care of transporting materials and working in high places like the ceiling. Unlike the manufacturing industry, it was impossible to fully automate the demanding work site(s).
 
Around 10,000 people per shift are involved in the work of the huge Earthport construction site. These are temporary workers from all over Usea that had been granted short-term working visas. They get 2 weeks of training through VR, work for 2 months, and then return to their homelands with expertise in cutting-edge building/construction technology and receive a fairly good stipend. A total of 1 million Useans will be involved in the construction of this facility alone, and their experiences will influence the reconstruction of various places in Usea.
 
The International Space Elevator Corporation “ISEV” is an organization that is taking charge of the international joint venture. It was established in 2011 with the assistance of the Osean Federation’s previous administration. Though the initial investment and basic technology was furnished by the Osean government, research in specific fields of study or securing labor and human resources are essentially done within Usea. That was partially due to Osea’s thinking that just throwing money in disaster areas would not aid in reconstruction.
 
The Continental Nations’ Economic Alliance, which won the Continental War, continued to manage the various nations of Usea with the FCU at its core, even after the conclusion of peace treaty signings with the former Federal Republic of Erusea. However, ever since the military alliance ISAF disbanded and transferred its peacekeeping function to the IUN, the refugee problem recurred. Energy problems related to restarting power plant operations compounded issues, and countries withdrew from the alliance one after another due to the lack of a unifying force.
 
During that time, the two rival superpowers were enjoying prosperity after experiencing the Circum-Pacific War. Yuktobania increased revenues through expanding trade partners of primary products and diversifying the shipbuilding industry, while Osea achieved unrivaled success in telecommunications, financial services, and in munitions and space development. It was clear that a policy that went beyond reconstruction was necessary to bridge the cross-national disparities. That was why Osea wanted the space elevator to be “made in Usea.”
 
The key was “solar power generation in space” that utilized the sun, the ultimate source of natural energy. Solar power generation satellites were constructed at an altitude of 36,000 km in geostationary orbit above the equator. The satellites collect sunlight and generate energy, and use microwaves to send it to rectennas [2] (antennas of electric receiving facilities) on the ground for use. This aimed to supply fair and permanent energy to the entire Usean continent.
 
Selatapura introduced itself as a candidate for the proposed building site for the Earthport, which would become the base for power collection. It bordered on an ocean near the equator; it was easy to enter and exit, and was the only independent state that had not ceded from the former Federal Republic of Erusea. There was nothing to criticize geopolitically, and since people and businesses have gathered there from around the world due to the investment of capital by multinational corporations, Selatapura was taking these assets and growing with great momentum. There was no reason for Osea to refuse it.
 
“Erusea naturally objected. But the mood was dominant in that we should take on new challenges.” In the spring of 2012, the construction road map and a 12-month syllabus were shared by ISEV in the engineering college Yao attended, and educators from Osea and North Point were dispatched. Bruman was also invited as a lecturer during this time.
 
Also, since the space elevator is massive, it was seen as a suitable target for terrorists. Based on this, it was announced that there would be an increase in the peace-keeping forces stationed on the base, as well as maintenance plans to add new defense capabilities. In response to this, opposition movements by citizens intensified in Erusea, but still in the age of a provisional autonomy after the peace talks, the Erusean government had no right to veto these plans, and could do nothing more but grasp the current state of things in their own country.

 


 

Mankind's Largest Structure

The Earthport is the cornerstone that connects Earth and outer space. It is a base for transporting people and materials on the ground and coordinates arrivals and departures of climbers that transport these to space. Despite being a single space elevator, there are many structures that are relevant to it, and there is a wide range of objects under construction. They can be separated broadly into “cables for lifting/lowering,” “climbers,” “ground facilities,” and “space facilities.” Though there were time lags until each one was ready for service, the elevator was deemed complete after the space station in geostationary orbit entered service, and the entire construction period lasted for 70 months. No, it was only 70 months.
 
It was January of 2013 when the first rocket lifted off from Comona Space Center to transport the cables. The construction spacecraft built in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) was irradiated with a laser beam from the ground and used MPD [3] (Magneto Plasma Dynamic) propulsion to ascend while orbiting the Earth. In May, it reached GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit). Afterwards, the spacecraft began orbiting to match the Earth’s rotation and continued to ascend to a higher altitude while feeding out cables towards the Earth and space at the same time.
 
September of the same year, the cable that was being fed towards Earth finally reached the ground and was fixed to the base of the Earthport. On the other side, the spacecraft became a counterweight after reaching an altitude of 96,000km, completing the basic structure of the space elevator. However, at this stage, the support capacity of each cable was weak with a value around 500 kpf, and could not even lift a single car. From there, strengthening construction was carried out by fastening reinforcing cables and the support capacity was steadily increased.
 
“Since the construction speed of this affects the entire construction period, we thought really hard about how to go about building it.” Bruman’s idea was this: Instead of carrying 2 cables needed for the climber to descend/ascend, fasten 6 of them together with a jig, and reinforce all cables at the same time as the climber ascends. When the first climber reaches an altitude of 12,000km, the second one would depart. The number of climbers would be increased little by little, and the climbers themselves would be used as counterweights at the top. Repeat this until a maximum of 24 climbers can be operated simultaneously to accelerate the increase in the cable support capability. This was done over 5 years, and eventually, the use of a 100 tonne climber was possible. The space station in geostationary orbit was already starting to test climbers, and 3 passenger climbers are preparing to be put into service.
 
I was allowed to observe an actual ascent/descent test, so I headed to the climber station. The massive elevator shaft in the center of the facility was covered by a disaster prevention shield to protect the climbers from the wind and foreign enemies. Beyond the glass window of the platform floor, a white and large spacecraft-like climber rose from the ground. We also wore pressurization suits since things were still under construction. I felt like an astronaut.
 
“Let’s go up.” I could see the doctor with his helmet on and Yao’s white teeth. The climber’s doors closed, and we began rising up slowly. Unfortunately, today’s test was to measure pressure changes generated from the 3 climbers passing by each other inside the shaft, so we could not go to space. Even so, the main shaft is mankind’s largest structure, taller than any other building in the world.
 
We began climbing at a comfortable speed when departing, but the ground still faded away rapidly and after we reached a speed of 200km/h, there was no more acceleration and travel became pleasant. Around the time we broke through the clouds, we passed by a climber, and another one soon after. There certainly was some swaying from the pressure changes, but the passenger room stabilized quickly.
 
We gradually slowed down and came to a stop at the very top of the tower. Looking up, all I could see were the 6 cables disappearing into the dark blue sky. “Look to your sides. It’s our favorite view.” Yao pointed at the sky at 12,000m. I can see the curvature of the Earth under the clouds. I had an unbroken view of the distant metropolitan area of Selatapura, and the sun was shining brightly. It’s the point of view of airplanes that fly in the thin atmosphere.
 
“A long time ago, there used to be a crater right under us. We’ve come a long way since then.”
 
This is not the story of the distant future. This was achieved by the strong will to complete it within our generation, no matter what. The appearance of an accomplished man could be seen in the doctor’s smile.
 
We have built roads and railways into previously unexplored lands. These are things that were not there from the beginning or made instantly. They are things that were made by our ancestors through their thoughts and actions. And so, we have gained new areas of activity and perspectives that we never had before. The space elevator directs these upwards. What kind of new perspectives will mankind have from this? That will become clear soon.  ​

Translation Notes

[1] Suzerain state (from Merriam Webster): a dominant state controlling the foreign relations of a vassal state but allowing it sovereign authority in its internal affairs

[2] From Wikipedia: A rectenna is a rectifying antenna, a special type of antenna that is used to convert microwave energy into direct current electricity. 

[3] (From Wikipedia) A magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster (MPDT) is a form of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion which uses the Lorentz force (the force on a charged particle by an electromagnetic field) to generate thrust. It is sometimes referred to as Lorentz Force Accelerator (LFA) or (mostly in Japan) MPD arcjet.

TaskForce 23 // Japanese to English Translation

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