Tank Farm

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Brin, David. "Tank Farm" (vt. "Tank-Farm Dynamo"). Analog November 1983. Collected River of Time. Chicago: Dark Harvest, 1986. For other reprints, see Internet Speculative Fiction Database, as of June 2022 at link here.[1] As of June 2022, "Tank Farm Dynamo" (1983) on line at "David Brin's Official Website" linked here.[2]

Novelette. Listed in Benford and Zebrowski's Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science.

From the on-line version, beginning ch. 3:

Imagine six very long parallel wires, hanging in space, always aimed toward the surface of the Earth 500 kilometers below. At both ends the wires are anchored to flat rows of giant cylinders -- forty in the upper layer, A Deck; and sixteen in the lower, B Deck. An elevator, consisting of two welded tanks, moves between the two ends, carrying people and supplies both ways. I've lost count of the number of times I've explained the curious structure to visitors. I've compared it to a double-ended child's swing, or a bolo turning exactly once always high. It's been called a skyhook, and even a bean-stalk, though the idea's nowhere near as ambitious as the ground-to-geosynchronous space-elevators of science fiction fame. The main purpose of the design is simply to keep the tanks from falling. The two massive ends of the Farm act like a dipole in the gradient of the Earth's gravitational field, so each deck winds up orbiting edge-forward, like a flat plate skimming. This reduces the drag caused by the upper fringes of the atmosphere, extending our orbital lifetime.

RDE, finishing, 15Jun22