It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Smitherman's paper credits Arthur C. Clarke with introducing the concept to a broader audience. In his 1978 novel, Fountains of Paradise, engineers construct a space elevator on top of a mountain peak in the mythical island of Taprobane (closely based on Sri Lanka, the country where Clarke now resides). The builders use advanced materials such as the carbon nanofibers now in laboratory study. "His book brought the idea to the general public through the science fiction community," said Smitherman. But Clarke wasn't the first. As early as 1895, a Russian scientist named Konstantin Tsiolkovsky suggested a fanciful "Celestial Castle" in geosynchronous Earth orbit attached to a tower on the ground, not unlike Paris's Eiffel tower. Another Russian, a Leningrad engineer by the name of Yuri Artsutanov, wrote some of the first modern ideas about space elevators in 1960. Published as a non-technical story in Pravda, his story never caught the attention of the West. Science magazine ran a short article in 1966 by John Isaacs, an American oceanographer, about a pair of whisker-thin wires extending to a geostationary satellite. The article ran basically unnoticed. The concept finally came to the attention of the space flight engineering community through a technical paper written in 1975 by Jerome Pearson of the Air Force Research Laboratory. This paper was the inspiration for Clarke's novel.
"The team is good and dedicated. They are covering all the major technical issues, said Robert Cassanova, Director of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts in Atlanta, Georgia. "It boils down to having materials available for the filament to go into space. There are going to be challenges. There are going to be surprises. It's going to take a lot of very good, very careful engineering design and development," he told SPACE.com.