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Scientist Sees Space Elevator in 15 Years

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posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 06:39 PM

Hmmm this seems quite interesting but didnt they forget that the eath spins?

The rotational speed of the Earth at the equator is about 1,038 miles per hour. The atmosphere at the equator is also slightly thicker due to rotation, and you weigh slightly less. At mid-latitudes, the speed of the Earth's rotation decreases to 700 to 900 miles per hour.

So here we have spinning mass with a thing sticking off of it? How will this ever work?

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 06:49 PM
Doesnt is seem odd that our government would provide funding for something like this? 2.5 Large is alot of cash for an idea that doesnt even make sense!

Hello any out there am i crazy?

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 06:59 PM
well in an issue of popular science from like march there was some stuff about are space future which i will post later. the elavator will use carbon nanotubes. It seems to me that it would snap.i think it is for sending supplies to our future space homes in ISS or some crazy stuff like trash disposal.

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 07:06 PM
This might be done using some form of nanoreplication or nanoselfassembly. If the carbon nanotubes could be made that large it should be strong enough. Therein lies the problem, it's really strong, but too dang difficult to make large pieces of it, let alone chunks the size of a two story building. I'd say 15 years is too soon, perhaps a century or so.

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 07:38 PM

The cable would be about three feet wide and thinner than a piece of paper, but capable of supporting a payload up to 13 tons.

Am I reading this wrong? How is it going to be thinner than a piece of paper? This is crazy.

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 07:40 PM
A space elevator just doesn't sound practical, but ive never seen one before so who knows, at least not on the earth. Maybe they can even use the cable to propel the vehicle by magnetism. The guy was saying we have the technology for a space elevator, assembling one Earth sounds close to impossible.

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 07:44 PM
The proposed form of propulsion in the New Scientist article on the list year was A laser at the base station providing power to the crawler which inched it's way up the cable.

It's a great idea, but I can't honestly see it working, the technology for producing nanotubes is not cheap enogh to build the huge expanse of cable this would require. Also, what happens when an airplane hits and breaks the cable, the space station at the end would be flung off into space, and the remainder of the cable would fall back to Earth.

I'd love to see it done, though.

posted on Jun, 26 2004 @ 08:06 AM

Everyone agrees that it is cool and the cable if you can call it that is interesting.

My whole problem is the spinning earth and this damn thing trying to stick off of its side. Is there anyone that sees what i am saying? How do you stop the elevator from spinning with the earth??????

posted on Jun, 26 2004 @ 08:41 AM
interesting... i always thought about a space elevator.............
did anybody see that program 'super structures' on discovery, they want to build this huge pyramid in tokyo that can sustain an entire cities worth of people, and would be using nanotubes to make the structure. it showed videos of the carbon 'moving' and locking together with eachother. i dont understand how it works!

imo a better thing to bo would be to construct a ring around the earth and launch from there, but that would cost squillions..............

posted on Jun, 26 2004 @ 08:57 AM

Originally posted by Leigon
My whole problem is the spinning earth and this damn thing trying to stick off of its side. Is there anyone that sees what i am saying? How do you stop the elevator from spinning with the earth??????

That's the whole point.. It DOES spin with the earth. thats what provides the centrifugal force the keeps the top end up!

If it didn't spin with the earth, you'd have to grab the end as it zipped past at 100's of miles per hour!!

[edit on 26-6-2004 by muppet]

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 04:53 AM
I believe the method i have heard of it using a mass body like an asteroid or something in geosynchronous orbit with cables connecting it to Earth (optimally at the equator where the escape velocity is easiest to achieve). The mass of elevator box and contents are negligible, but over a long period you might have to add some forward momentum to the mass body. Along with wondering if carbon nanotube cables could with stand the stress of their own weight plus car plus contents with out breaking, I wonder about wind and other atmosphere considerations overstressing them. Then you wonder what kind of lift system. Little roller/climbers on the cables, which would cause more wear and damage to the cables? A central ceiling hoist cable like most current elevators, but then how do you spool thousands of miles of cable? As you get out far enough though the car would continue 'up' on centripedal force, but you would have to have the opposite lift system from the mass body to where earth gravity began to pull it in.

I also have a vision of a hundred mile high Eiffel-tower type structure for the first hundred miles or so.

Imagine yourself in a glass car shooting up through the latticework of the tower, then suddenly you can see for miles as the Earth seems to fall away below you. You climb higher and higher at a phenomenal speed. It is an incredible fantasy.

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 02:07 PM
The future of the space elevator and why we need to make it work..

BTW this concept has been around since I was in my mid teens, I'm now in my late 20's.. I'm sure with the right materials and intelligence this could be a reality, since they've had so much darn time to mull it over.

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 04:00 PM
There is no reason why this will not work. Planes wouldn't fly into it because it would be at the equator where there is no normal air traffic except were the planes may cross over the equator to the other hemisphere but it will be in an area where this wont be a problem. A laser will provide power for the thing. The technology is proven. It can easily be done. Nothing new needs to first be invented because it is already there. The only thing that will stop this is funding.

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 04:04 PM
In all fairness it isnt that unreasonable an idea.
As long as we can keep the molecular structure strong enough so that it doesnt start to slip and crack and then break in half, the power exerted by the earth on it will propel the space station itself
It would, in the long run, make space travel a hell of a lot cheaper

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 07:01 PM
exactly, and another benifit it gives aswell is from the momentum of the earth you could actually sling shot a space craft to say mars which would take no time at all. I think people saying that this will not work is pure ignorence, carbon nanotubes are basically the strongest known substance, and it has been stated that within another 5 years carbon nanotubes would have developed enough to actually be practical enough for this concept to work.

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 07:27 PM
I don't understand how on Earth they plan to do this, I read that if a tool is dropped during a spacewalk outside the ISS, They have to move the ISS in order to ensure that the tool doesn't come zooming around again in its orbit and smashing straight into the ISS, causing terrible damage etc.

... How the hell do they intend to move a massive space elevator/or make it strong enough?

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 07:45 PM
Ok, I've got a plan to build one...

1. find a large asteroid out in space, and maneuver it into a geostationary postion.
2. Build the "Space' end up around the asteroid, sending up the technology and equipment needed to manufacture the nano-tubes in space.
3. build TWO nanotube strips, at the same time, one pointing down to earth and one pointing out to space. This keeps the centre of mass in at the asteroid, and it's position geostationary.
4. Continue "feeding out" the nano-tube strips, until 1 end touches the ground, and one end is pointing out into space by the same distance.
5. secure the Earth end, and then start feeding the "Space" pointing strip back through the Asteroid base down to earth as well. ( you'd have to push the asteroid out a little in it's orbit to stay geostationary.
6. secure the second strip on earth, wire up the power and you have a 2 lane space elevator!!

AND, the only energy you need to expend in building it is that needed to get the basic (probably robotic) equipment up there in the first place, and to operate it.(and tame the asteroid as well I suppose, but then again you might not even need this).

Other than that, no heavy lifting involved..

posted on Jun, 28 2004 @ 08:49 AM
Sorry for the long quote below, but this is a topic being seriously studied by NASA, and in technical term not too distance future. However the monetary and political capabilities are probably much further off.

The Space Elevator NIAC Phase II Final Report 2.7 mb .pdf

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) commissioned Dr Bradley C Edwards to study all aspects of the construction and operation of a space elevator, and Phase I of the report was published in late 2002.
The report very specifically addresses design and operations, which had until then escaped close scrutiny.

Firstly, the elevator would not be a cable. It starts as a 1-micron thick piece of tape 91,000km long (extra long as it would not use an asteroid as a counter weight but instead use the mass of the excess tape), tapering from 5cm wide at the Earth's surface to 11.5cm wide near the middle. This tape would be taken up by shuttle together with some booster rockets. It would then be 'flown-down' to the surface whilst the booster rockets provide the required counterbalance beyond geosynchronous orbit.
Centripetal force throws the higher part of the tape away from the Earth, whilst the effect of gravity on the lower mass of the tape keeps it in tension. This first link is capable of supporting 1238kg before breaking.
That's enough to allow more 'lifters' to add additional tapes to increase the strength of the elevator to a useful amount. This takes a total of 207 lifters and nearly two and a half years to complete. In its final form, each new lifter is capable of carrying 13,000kg and then adding their own mass to that of the counterweight when their job is done.

Production Issues
Carbon NanoTubes are proposed to be the main material for the tape, with 3cm ropes being produced by 1998. The strength of these laboratory-produced NanoTubes confirmed people's predictions that this material would have the strength that a space elevator would require.
Moving asteroids around the solar system is not a requirement for a space elevator, you can 'build' the counterweight using your own construction equipment. By flying the tape all the way down to the ground you do not need tall towers and fast aircraft to connect to your orbital transport system.

A main concern is how to produce 91,000km long tapes, when the present capability is only a few centimeters. The tapes they have defined in this study are Carbon NanoTube/expoxy composites. Standard composites use these in a 60/40 ration, but this design proposes only a 98/2 ratio to minimize the mass of epoxy required - the rest would be bare Nanotubes, required to be at least a centimeter in length. This reduces the design issues to the high-volume production of NanoTubes and how to operate the elevator itself.

The study highlights most of the risks that can be identified. Meteor strikes, hurricanes, terrorist attack, even to the falling of the ribbon itself.

A damaged cable ribbon is intended to be capable of in-situ repair, whereas a broken one only causes inconvenience until a replacement length can be flown down. If lifters become detached from the ribbon then parachutes or re-entry vehicle solutions are required.

Power Systems
For powering the elevator, Clarke had to bring in nuclear fusion and superconductors. This NIAC study proposes that power requirements for the initial deployment of the tape would be minimal and met by solar arrays or batteries. The deployment itself would actually generate excess power.

The report mentions the very problems that affected the Clarke cable - those of a tangled cable as it is deployed at the rate of 200km per hour, and identifies the need for appropriate mechanical control of the tension.
The lifters that climb the tape to add new strands are powered by beaming power onto their solar panels. With this and additional power coming from the locomotive system beyond geosynchronous orbit, getting rid of excess power is actually more of an issue. This technology is under development by several companies.

So no exotic power systems are required for the construction or operation of the cable, and much of the technologies required either already exist or are being worked on as near-term objectives. Such a system is highly scaleable. Once in place, a space elevator can be used to build another, thereby increasing capacity in a predictable manner.

One of the aspects of the elevator in "Red Mars" is that it had to oscillate to avoid hitting the moon Phobos. This design identifies a similar need to avoid low Earth orbit satellites and space debris. The solution is to ensure that there is adequate warning to move the elevator, and using a sea-based anchor station to do this.

Real World Numbers
Taking the design process to the ultimate stage, that of time and cost, reveals some real-world numbers. The first cable would cost around $40billion (50% of that being contingency), whilst a second cable would cost only $14billion. The construction time for the first elevator is scheduled to take 10 years, with another ten elevators built in the following decade.
However, there have been lots of changes since the report was written. A current program is $7-10B, with a 15-year cycle to build. That assumes 2 years of research into the material sciences, with some additional testing and research on other aspects. After 3 years of design and engineering, the actual "cutting metal" and building of parts for the system will begin. That will take another 7 years, and then 3 years for launching, on orbit assembly, and final integration.

They take the opportunity to propose how to make use of this space asset, with a large space station capable of housing hundreds of people, and the construction of a Martian elevator on Earth. It would be lifted into Earth orbit and then thrown onward to Mars itself to allow for unmanned and later manned exploration. No great detail, simply a possible roadmap for the use to which tethers can be put for the next fifty years.

The space elevator has been a concept ahead of its time for too long and the implications of mass access to Earth orbit and beyond need to be considered. The remaining work of the report's writers is to further refine their studies, whilst existing commercial industry works on the production related issues.

In terms of funding, an elevator is not outside the realms of commercial business, although the business case for it needs to be confirmed. At present, this may be simply put - whoever owns the first space elevator will control economic access to space for a long time to come.

Already the commercial development of space elevators has begun. LiftPort is a new group of companies that has sprung into being as a direct result of this study. The rest as they say, is future.

SpaceDaily Website

[edit on 28-6-2004 by Popeye]

posted on Jun, 28 2004 @ 09:50 AM

Originally posted by Popeye
However the monetary and political capabilities are probably much further off.

Real World Numbers
Taking the design process to the ultimate stage, that of time and cost, reveals some real-world numbers. The first cable would cost around $40billion (50% of that being contingency), whilst a second cable would cost only $14billion. The construction time for the first elevator is scheduled to take 10 years, with another ten elevators built in the following decade.

At $40 billion that's actually incredibly cheap.

The Fed "creates" more money than this every month.

Currently it costs the around $72 million just to put a satellite in to orbit on a rocket based launcher.

According to this site there are around 300 satellites up there at the moment. With a cheap system, there would be an explosion applications for new satellites and space structures. One can imagine a whole "layer" of space stations, observation platforms, holiday resorts..etc.

In short, a working space Elevator is literally a passage to an entire "New World", of more significance then the discovery of America.

All for just $40 billion No wonder a lot of companies are racing to develop it.. it's the investment of the millennium!

posted on Jun, 28 2004 @ 09:59 AM
Sure, a space elevator is great and all, but call me when we get the space escelator....then I'll be impressed!

Seriously, if we ever get this thing up and running in 15 yrs or even 100 yrs, wouldn't we have advanced enough that space travel by spaceships would be much more common and much more economical? I would think that transporting goods by space vessels will be the way to go when we are talking that far ahead in time.

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