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Thread: Earth-to-space Elevator Proposed

  1. #1
    Earth-to-space elevator proposed

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - Researchers are proposing an elevator reaching 100,000 kilometres into the sky that would be able to launch payloads into space at a far lower cost than space shuttle.

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are so convinced it can be a reality that they are working on their own time on technical details. Five to 10 scientists at any given time are analysing the economics, technical specifications of how the elevator would work and possible health risks to those using it.

    Lab scientist Bryan Laubscher said researchers hope the U.S. Department of Energy can someday use the information to start investing in a space elevator.

    "The first country that owns the space elevator will own space," Laubscher said. "I believe that, and I think Los Alamos should be involved in making that happen."

    The elevator shaft would be made of a strong, thin, lightweight material called carbon nanotubes. The shaft, really a 32 million-storey-tall cable, would be carried into orbit on a conventional spacecraft, then gradually dropped down to Earth and attached to an ocean platform along the equator.

    Solar-powered crawlers would move up and down the elevator, carrying payloads of satellites or probes to be placed in Earth's orbit or beyond. They also would attach additional cables to the main shaft that eventually would become new elevators.

    "It would create huge, huge savings over how we launch stuff now," said Ron Morgan, a health scientist working on the project. "From the top of it, we could throw things off to Mars or to the inner solar system. Launching those things on conventional rockets costs a fortune."

    A payload on the shuttle costs about $15,000 US per kilogram to launch into orbit, while a payload on the first space elevator likely would cost about $1,000 per kilogram, which could drop to $50 to $100 in time, Laubscher said.

    Significant technical questions remain. No one has made a carbon nanotube cable longer than a few metres but Laubscher said technology is improving daily, and a longer cable could be possible in a few years.

    Also, the Earth's magnetosphere, far above where the shuttle typically travels, could be a radiation hazard. Scientists say that wouldn't rule out equipment launches or space tourism in lower orbits.

    Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., said the space elevator concept is ingenious but faces big obstacles including environmental and cost questions.

    "My comment would be, 'Good luck,' " he said.

    The researchers believe their time on the project is worth it.

    "None of us can imagine how the space elevator will change the world," Morgan said. "I'd love to be here 15 years after the first one is built to see how the world changes. I think it will change everything."


  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    I can see the headlines now;

    " Space elevator disintegrates as flock of migrating storks crash into fog-shrouded cable ! "

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    razorsharp013's Avatar Fountain of Wit
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Will there be a guy in said elevator with his hand out waiting for a huge tip cause he presed up? And what kind of musac will they play in it for your elevator riding enjoyment?

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    And will there be an emergency staircase in the event of fire ?

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    uNz[i]'s Avatar Out of order
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Amazing. They're inventing the skyhook.

    About time too.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Cairns, Queensland.
    They should be inventing an anti-gravity device instead of stupid space elevators.

    What a target for Osama bin Laden's grandchildren.

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    Barbarossa's Avatar mostly harmless
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Over here!
    This idea has been kicking around for a long time, read Arthur C. Clarkes "The Fountains of Paradise" published in 1979.

    Whether it will ever get built or not I don't know. The safeguards that would have to be put into place would be tremendous.

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
    Rat Faced's Avatar Broken
    Join Date
    Aug 2002

    Its older than that..

    Try Asimovs Foundation Series (Trantor)...copyrighted 1951

    Ive seen the idea in a few books, havent a clue as to who 1st thought of it....probably someone an hour or so after the elevator was invented

    An It Harm None, Do What You Will

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    bigboab's Avatar Poster BT Rep: +1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    I am trying to imagine how this is going to be achieved. We have to assume a giant tube just hanging in the sky while the earth passes it by at its rotating speed.
    Now the difficult bit. How do you make a connection. Or am I missing something.
    The best way to keep a secret:- Tell everyone not to tell anyone.

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    how much do you think it would cost???

    apperently a commerical "flight" to the moon (surprisingly only taking one day) would set you back, 100,000 (STG)

    source: Sunday Times

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