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.
Rocketing into space? Some think an elevator might be the way to go. That's the future goal of this week's $2 million Space Elevator Games in the Mojave Desert. In a major test of the concept, robotic machines powered by laser beams will try to climb a cable suspended from a helicopter hovering more than a half-mile (one kilometer) high. Three teams have qualified to participate in the event on the dry lakebed near NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards. Attempts were expected from early Wednesday through Thursday.
A space elevator is a proposed structure designed to transport material from a celestial body's surface into space. Many variants have been proposed, all of which involve traveling along a fixed structure instead of using rocket powered space launch. The concept most often refers to a structure that reaches from the surface of the Earth to geostationary orbit (GSO) and a counter-mass beyond.
The concept of a space elevator dates back to 1895 when Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed a free-standing "Tsiolkovsky" tower reaching from the surface of Earth to geostationary orbit. Most recent discussions focus on tensile structures (specifically, tethers) reaching from geostationary orbit to the ground. This structure would be held in tension between Earth and the counterweight in space like a guitar string held taut. Space elevators have also sometimes been referred to as beanstalks, space bridges, space lifts, space ladders, skyhooks, orbital towers, or orbital elevators.
Current (2009) technology is not capable of manufacturing practical engineering materials that are sufficiently strong and light to build an Earth based space elevator. This is because the total mass of conventional materials needed to construct such a structure would be far too great. However, recent conceptualizations for a space elevator are notable in their plans to use carbon nanotube-based materials as the tensile element in the tether design, since the measured strength of microscopic carbon nanotubes appears great enough to make this theoretically possible. Current technology could produce elevators for locations in the solar system with a weaker gravitational field, such as Mars.
An Orbital Ring is a concept for a space elevator that consists of a ring in low earth orbit that rotates at slightly above orbital speed, that has fixed tethers hanging down to the ground.
Originally posted by grandnic
Non-rocket spacelaunch, or How to get to LEO more efficiently
Originally posted by Larryman
Thanks, but no thanks. I'll wait for the anti-gravity method of space access.