# Could the ISS put a ring around the Earth?

I was reading about orbital rings, and more specifically I was thinking about how one could be constructed. It obviously would need angular momentum, because each piece of the ring (if separated from the ring) would not be stationary with respect to the Earth's inertial frame. This sort of got me thinking about a smaller scale experiment and had me realizing I have no idea what physics would do in this specific situation.

Here's the example:

A man on the ISS has a fishing pole with a reel of infinite unbreakable fishing line. The reel is also quite extraordinary and can release slack at any rate the man decides.

• Would the orbital motion of the ISS allow the line to trail behind it?
• At what rate would he need to be letting out slack?
• If it was letting out this line this quickly, would it maintain a circular shape?
• If enough line was let out to equal the circumference of the ISS's orbit, could the ISS meet back up with the fishing line?
• If we could meet back up with the beginning of the line and connect it into a ring, would it maintain angular momentum?
• Would it be less stable or more stable than an ordinary satellite?
• If any of these assumptions are wrong, what would happen?

I'm mostly concerned with the reasons why it wouldn't work. 'Meeting back up with the original location' is the least of which I am concerned about. I'm more concerned about the stability of the ring, provided it did meet back up (or if my thinking on the fact that 'letting out slack' wouldn't function as I've assumed), which led me to articles like non-linear dynamics of ring-world systems.

• The ISS drifts 4 degrees a day, so I'm pretty sure it wouldn't meet back up with the beginning of the line--not 100% sure though. May 7, 2019 at 15:16
• @called2voyage Other items in the same orbit (like the line) would drift the same amount. That's not the reason this won't work. May 7, 2019 at 15:58
• @BowlOfRed There are multiple reasons this won't work, but are you sure other items would drift the same amount? I would think the amount of drift depends on a lot of factors. May 7, 2019 at 15:59
• @BowlOfRed In order to get the line to trail the station, it would have to decelerate relative to the station. This would alter the angular frequency of the line, thus altering the amount of drift. I'm not sure if it would be a meaningful difference though. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nodal_precession May 7, 2019 at 16:04
• I'm mostly concerned with the reasons why it wouldn't work. 'Meeting back up with the original location' is the least of which I am concerned about. I'm more concerned about the stability of the ring (or if my thinking on the fact that 'letting out slack' wouldn't function as I've assumed), which led me to articles like non-linear dynamics of ring-world systems. May 7, 2019 at 16:33