Dr. Robert Hoyt

Dr. Hoyt is Chief Executive Officer of Tethers Unlimited, Inc., a space technology research and development firm located in the Seattle area. During his sixteen year career, Dr. Hoyt has worked on a variety of advanced space technologies, including plasma thruster propulsion, solar thermal propulsion, electrostatic antennas, space debris mitigation technologies, and, of course, space tethers. In 1991, while a graduate student, Rob Hoyt invented two technologies that may help revolutionize space travel as we know it. The first is a multiline tether structure with failsafe characteristics called the Hoytether, which may enable space tethers to survive the space debris environment for many years. The second is the ‘Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost’ tether transportation system, which combines propellantless electrodynamic propulsion with momentum-exchange techniques to create a system that can boost many payloads from low Earth orbit to higher orbits without using propellant. Over the past several years he has also pioneered a concept for using high-voltage tether structures in space to clean up natural and man-made radiation belts. In 1994, he and the renowned physicist and science fiction author, Dr. Robert L. Forward, co-founded Tethers Unlimited to develop space tether technologies, and over the past dozen years he has led its growth to a profitable 18-person company specializing in tether technologies, nanosatellite systems, and scientific computing.

Broadcast 531 (Special Edition)

Dr. Robert Hoyt was the guest for this Space Show program. We began the interview with Dr. Hoyt telling us the basics about tethers. Tethers are either momentum exchange tethers or electrodynamics propulsion tethers working with Lorentz force interactions and the Earth's magnetic field. Dr. Hoyt then described these types of tethers in greater detail and the type of applications for each tether. In response to a listener question, he talked about being able to use tethers to move the ISS to another orbit though it would take about 18-24 months.

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