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Elevator to the Cosmos
Jon Lebkowsky, 26 Jun 04

Space Elevator image from NASA.So far we've launched objects and astronauts into space with high-risk controlled explosions, and whatever returns to earth has to fall back into the atmosphere at high speed, risking incineration. There may be a better way. Bradley Edwards of The Institute for Scientific Research, Inc. envisions the creation of a "space elevator" within fifteen years for $10 billion (low cost for a space travel solution). Arthur C. Clarke originally suggested the space elevator concept in his speculative novel The Fountains of Paradise. Clarke's reputation for prediction is well-known; the ideas and devices he's described in his fiction are practical and often predictive. The Institute for Scientific Research is gearing up to make the space elevator happen. This week in D.C. Edwards and others will gather for The Space Elevator: The Third International Conference, sponsored by NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory. This proposed project and the recent flight of SpaceShipOne may signal the beginning of a new Space Age. [Link to Yahoo! News: "Scientist Sees Space Elevator in 15 Years"] [Link to NASA Article "Audacious and Outrageous: Space Elevators"]

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um, its $10 BILLION guys, not million

Posted by: Eric on 26 Jun 04

Thanks! Typo fixed.

Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 26 Jun 04

Bill Gates, a private individual, could easily swing $10 billion. The potential economic boom from cheap access to space would make the 90s look like the depression from hell.

Ship your fuel to GEO and you have delta V to burn. The inner solar system becomes accessible. And no more waste gases being spewn across the stratosphere.

With cheap access to GEO, suddenly a lot more people and groups can think about asteroid mining. Many asteroids contain minerals worth in excess of $1 trillion.

Posted by: RB on 27 Jun 04

The problem is if it breaks we lose everyone on the equator as the thing slams into the earth. Ohg and the fact it has to be built on or very near the equator.

That and its terrorist bait extreme.

Posted by: wintermane on 27 Jun 04

The problem is if it breaks we lose everyone on the equator as the thing slams into the earth.

Actually, it wouldn't. As dramatic as the elevator crash scene in KSR's Red Mars was, it's not a realistic projection of what a broken beanstalk would be like on Earth. Most of the elevator material would break up and burn up during re-entry, especially given that the current beanstalk designs are much more like cables than like towers. It would be a helluva spectacular meteor show, but not a planetary-scale disaster.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 27 Jun 04

when people talk about anything scientific that will take over a year and name a price, that price means basically nothing. 10 billion is counting on several scientific advances that don't exist and have nebulous amounts of money being spent on them. nanotubes, despite their incredible strength may not scale well. we don't know, because right now we can't scale them AT ALL. As cool of an idea as it is, I can see why people are not jumping for their checkbooks. . . these contractors will probably have some serious overruns.

on the other hand, the base station only has to be fifty some miles high, we're not going to lose the entire equator.

Posted by: Ben on 27 Jun 04

Most of the mass of a space elvator would make it to the ground before going boom rather loudly. Remember it wouldnt be falling THAT fast as the top end would still be pulling up on it slowing its fall it would just prolly be going 3-5x the speed of sound when it hit and likely only that as it sped up winding itself around the world the second time.

Mind you I dont care too much im far enough away from the splat zone;/

I think what will lauch stuff into orbit wont be space elivators or anything silly like that but simple rail cannons sending the materials up to orbit to build in space whatever we want built.. Then only the people need ride to space and people weight alot less then all the crap they haul with em.

Why send a 2 million pound spaceship into orbit when you could just build a 500 ton box in space and ship 1000lb of geek hinnie into orbit?

Its like fed exing a power plant with workers inside it to brazil to build a plant there.

Posted by: wintermane on 28 Jun 04



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