The question What is the largest delta-v ever produced in space from mechanically stored energy? asks of course about the delta-v produced, but here I'm asking about the largest amount of stored energy.

update: since there are a variety of ways to store energy, and since there are no answers, I'll narrow this down to springs and other mechanical devices which use mechanical stress/strain in solid materials.

Here's an example of a big spring pushing the first and second stages of an Antares rocket apart, from Scott Manley's video The Antares Rocket - NASA's Less Famous Ride To The Space Station:

The Antares Rocket - NASA's Less Famous Ride To The Space Station GIF

As another example there is a Falcon 9 "pusher"; a central rod from the first stage that extends through the nozzle of the 2nd stage engine and pushes on the back of the combustion chamber. For more see

Question: What is the largest energy stored in a spring or other mechanical devices which use mechanical stress/strain that has ever been put in space? Ideally this should be intentionally stored mechanical energy.

"Put" implies that it didn't necessarily have to work or be used in practice.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It's going to be a flywheel $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Jun 7 '19 at 6:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Might be a bolo despin system. It drains the spin energy of the entire spacecraft before being discarded into space. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jun 7 '19 at 8:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: One stores the unwanted energy in them to discard it. They are kinetic energy equivalent of heatsinks/radiators, or more accurately sublimators. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jun 7 '19 at 9:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: Angular momentum is inseparably bound with rotary kinetic energy. But it's energy stored only for discarding, not reuse, so I acknowledge this is not what you're asking about. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jun 7 '19 at 9:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ are pneumatics and hydraulics mechanical, in which case pressure fed tanks may be a candidate... $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Jun 7 '19 at 10:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.