Space Elevator A Real Possibility

The space elevator may be a very real possibility within our lifetimes. Previously the stuff of science fiction novels, scientists and engineers around the world will continue their discussion at a conference in Japan this November. The space elevator’s basic design would include a cable that is anchored to the Earth’s surface, and on the other end, tens of thousands of kilometers away, a counterweight for balance. The space elevator could be used to solve many different problems, from nuclear waste disposal to powering homes with solar panels.

The technology driving the development of the space elevator is the carbon nanotube. Its lightweight properties and tensile strength, over 180 times stronger than steel cable, make it the ideal cable for the space elevator. Currently there are several logistical problems, which range from designing a carbon nanotube strong enough to support the elevator to finding an ideal site to design and build the elevator, which would require international consensus and input. Several organizations are working on space elevator designs, and NASA is holding a $4 million Space Elevator Challenge to encourage designs.

55 thoughts on “Space Elevator A Real Possibility

  1. great idea. wont happen in our lifetimes thoe. but does have a great chance of happening.

    Reasons of happening:
    1. the earth is slowly decaying into a “dead” planet. we are using all of our resources and are eventually going to run out. (a few hundred million years)
    2. think of deep space 9. using a location in space to develop other ships. make (relatively) “cheep” ships, that don’t need to fight to leave earths atmosphere.
    3. R&D of hazardous and deadly products/weapons. so if something goes wrong just shut it down and it cant reach earth. (i forgot the movie)

    Reasons that it wont happen in our lifetime.
    1. material development. you need to develop specialized material to survive extraordinary abuse. both temperature (go from freezing cold, and have an extreamly hot atom hit the cable) and friction (the “elevator” must survive millions of trips without much “service”.)
    2. material gathering. it will take a while to create the actual product, and get the required material to make it.
    3. stupid laws + politics. atleast in the USA it takes weeks just to figure out what paper you need to fill out to get a spot to wait in to get the next set of papers to do it all over again for anything. “Hurry up to wait” (got to love the military)

    dont get me wrong im all for this idea. lets start it today. you figure out what you want us to do.

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