# Orbital insertion by rotating shaft

Consider the following idea for inserting a human on the surface of the earth into orbit:

In orbit, attach a long (~80km) rigid shaft to a large weight (presumably an asteroid) and set it spinning. Alter its trajectory and angular velocity on a collision course with the surface, such that the shaft will briefly touch the person's harness on the surface with zero instantaneous relative velocity, and become attached.

As the apparatus continues spinning and falling, further rotation of the shaft carries our human up and out of the atmosphere. By detaching at apogee, our traveler achieves orbit, leaving the the apparatus to destroy itself in a collision with the planet.

Do plausible future materials allow it, and do the angular momenta work out?

• It sounds like you're describing a rotating skyhook: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyhook_%28structure%29 Jul 23, 2015 at 15:53
• Three differences from the skyhook Wikipedia entry: (1) this is single-use, (2) it goes all the way through the atmosphere to the surface of the earth, and (3) a rigid shaft replaces a flexible tether. Jul 23, 2015 at 16:14
• A rigid 80km shaft isn't technically feasible. Right now. Or in the next 30 years. Jul 23, 2015 at 16:17
• I'd thing trying to use that for a person on the surface of the Earth would essentially amount to a giant flyswatter :-) The similar proposals I've seen - bolas, with a cable rather than rigid beam - all use an aerial rendevous. Jul 23, 2015 at 20:01
• 80km is way too short! You'll die. Jul 25, 2015 at 5:02