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