November 20, 2002
HighLift Systems Working On Space Elevator Design

If an elevator could take you up into space would you feel like you were ridiing a spacecraft as you journeyed upward? HighLift Systems thinks nanotube nanotechnology research is advancing far enough to make a space elevator viable:

For the last few months, officials at HighLift Systems have been talking it up with an alphabet soup of government agencies, like NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Meanwhile, testing of prototype space elevator equipment is near at hand. And by far the strongest link that keeps the concept on the straight and narrow is worldwide work now underway by the carbon nanotube research community.

Overall, progress is being made in attaining the lofty goal of operating a 21st century elevator to space.

From the HighLift Systems web site:

Simply put, a space elevator is a revolutionary way of getting from Earth into space. A space elevator is a ribbon with one end attached to Earth on a floating platform located at the equator and the other end in space beyond geosynchronous orbit (35,800 km altitude). The space elevator will ferry satellites, spaceships, and pieces of space stations into space using electric lifts clamped to the ribbon. Ultimately, the space elevator will serve as a means for commerce, scientific advancement, and exploration.
Once relegated to the realm of science fiction, the space elevator is now the subject of serious research by Seattle-based company HighLift Systems. The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts granted funds to Eureka Scientific and Dr. Bradley Edwards to investigate the feasibility of designing and building a space elevator. As commercial applications are being explored, HighLift Systems was co-founded by Dr. Edwards and Michael Laine to move the development of the space elevator forward. With the discovery of carbon nanotubes and the ongoing development to implement them into a composite, HighLift Systems believes that building a space elevator will be viable in the coming years. In its initial report, HighLift Systems has found that a space elevator capable of lifting 5-ton payloads every day to all Earth orbits, the Moon, Mars, Venus or the asteroids could be operational in 15 years. This first space elevator could be built for between $7-$10 billion and would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per kilogram, as compared to current launch costs, which are $10,000-$40,000 per kilogram, depending on destination and choice of rocket launch system. Additional and larger elevators, built utilizing the first one, would allow large-scale manned and commercial activities in space and reduce lift costs even further.

See their summary of how it would be built and what it would cost.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 November 20 05:29 PM  Airplanes and Spacecraft


Comments
Patrick said at November 20, 2002 6:48 PM:

That's a fraction of the cost of the space station. Still I'll wait until the nanotube cable is in production before I book a ticket.

Randall Parker said at November 21, 2002 4:57 PM:

Patrick, The bulk of NASA's budget is a waste of money. If it was up to me I'd kill the Space Shuttle and space station. What we need are radical advances in technologies for getting into space. Using the existing technologies is a waste of time. If NASA spent their budget instead on newer propulsion systems and other more radical ways to get up into orbit then we'd be able to lower the cost of getting there and the amount of people and stuff going into space would go up by orders of magnitude.

If we have a huge problem we should build better tools. Its dumb to waste money operating incredibly expensive tools. We should work to solve the problems that need to be solved to be able to move into space. The biggest problem is the cost to put stuff up into orbit.

Tactical said at April 29, 2003 2:15 PM:

I agree. The key to space is getting there from earth cheaply. Once that is done the frequancy of space travel will increase automatical inventing the technologys we waste time seeking now,space like life support etc... i.e The designer of the first car did not think of or even resarch Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) it was invented simply due to the cheapness and thus frequant use of car for travel. What I am saying is get cheap earth to space travel and the rest will invent itself because of frequent use of the travel.

To the future.

Joseph Barlow said at October 23, 2004 5:55 PM:

New concept for space elevtator.

Tower of air.Bouyant lift to high altitude.Zylon can be used to create a cloth tube to space,inflated by air and its weight supported by helium bladders in internal walls.Simply pump air into tube and ride air into space.Gravity keeps air in open ended tube.Small rocket can place payload into orbit from 100 mile high tower of air.Size 1 mile diameter 100 miles high, very large structure but with currant technology possible now.If a nano tube cable can be constructed in space then the payloads can be transferred.

Hriday Hazarika said at April 27, 2005 5:10 AM:

Very nice website with lots of information. Very useful for participants of Asian Space Settlement Design Competition. I myself am one.

anonym said at January 30, 2012 12:29 PM:

Is the idea dead or only the site ?

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