A Hoytether is a design for a tether for use in space.

It's formed as a sort of netting- the idea is that the individual fibers can be cut by micrometeors or space junk but the tether has so many little fibers that it is extremely unlikely that enough would be cut at one place to cause the tether to fail.

The tether can be designed to survive for hundreds of years or longer. By way of contrast experiments with monofilament tethers show that they only last a few months before snapping in low earth orbit.

A full hoytether looks like this before it gets hit:

  / \   / \   / \   / \
 /   \ /   \ /   \ /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   / \   / \   /
  \ /   \ /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X
  / \   / \   / \   / \
 /   \ /   \ /   \ /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   / \   / \   /
  \ /   \ /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X
  / \   / \   / \   / \
 /   \ /   \ /   \ /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   / \   / \   /
  \ /   \ /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X
  / \   / \   / \   / \
 /   \ /   \ /   \ /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   / \   / \   /
  \ /   \ /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X

But after a few strings snap...

  / \   / \   / \   / \
 /   \ /   \ /   \ /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   / \   / \   /
  \ /   \ /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X
  /       \   / \   / \
 /         \ /   \ /   \ 
X           X     X     X
 \         / \   / \   /
  \       /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X
  / \   / \   / \   / \
 /   \ /   \ /   \ /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   /       \   /
  \ /   \ /         \ /
   X     X           X
  / \   / \         / \
 /   \ /   \       /   \ 
X     X     X     X     X
 \   / \   / \   / \   /
  \ /   \ /   \ /   \ /
   X     X     X     X

The bold lines take up the strain of the snapped stings. The advantage of this over a traditional rope or braid is twofold. First, it allows you to spread the strength over a larger physical area, meaning that it's hard for one impact to take out the whole cable. Second, it allows you to use shorter lenghts of string (i.e. carbon nanotubules and hook them togeather only at the 'X's.

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