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The American space agency is hosting a competition in which a number of entrepreneurs will be showcasing a variety of interesting creations

A National Aeronautics Space Administration competition will draw a number of international scientists to the New Mexico desert for them to unveil a number of different revolutionary projects. The overall goal of the NASA contest is to build some form of a space elevator that would hopefully one day replace expensive rocket missions. Even though the idea of a space elevator constructed out of a long enough cable to lift men and goods into orbit seems a bit outlandish, the entrepreneurs realistically believe it can be done.

University researchers, several corporations and scientists from several countries will test their devices to at the competition next month. Over $400,000 in cash prizes will be made available to the winners to the contests.

The LiftPort Group is one company that has openly stated its intentions of constructing a space elevator . LiftPort announced last month that it has completed a second round of testing on a prototype space elevator platform that stretches over a mile into the sky. The space elevator it hopes to construct would span over 100,000 kilometers. The company will be represented at the NASA challenge next month.

Even though a proper space base hasn't been constructed on Mars, some experts are hypothesizing about the ability of building a space elevator on the red planet. The 24 ½-hour days and proper atmosphere makes it an ideal location for a space elevator. Many scientists cited by the group agree that interested parties should first build some sort of elevator off Earth before even mentioning Mars.



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Other things first
By mwilkinson on 9/4/2006 11:10:16 PM , Rating: 2
Why dont we spend money on fixing things here on earth first before we build an elevator to space... I wonder how many children that could feed instead?




RE: Other things first
By proamerica on 9/4/2006 11:40:02 PM , Rating: 2
The military spends far more money than NASA...

Besides why don't you go feed the children if it's such a pressing matter for you. I dated a social worker once, she didn't worry too much about NASA's money because she made a difference in kids lives through her work. Actually helping them individually.

You can only throw so much money at a problem, at some point you have to get off your ass and do something about it if it's such a big deal to you. People forget that you can lead by example. It's a long road but if you bleeding heart liberal whiners would actually go out and WORK to make the world a better place in tangible realistic manner then you wouldn't even have to worry about NASA or the military spending the "children's" money.

The money will be wasted no matter where you send it. Thats a sad fact. You can't spend trillions of dollars well, human nature just makes it impossible.


RE: Other things first
By Ringold on 9/5/2006 7:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
Private enterprise can spend trillions well, if its in a competitive market, but *government* cant spend a nickle without forming a committee, having meetings, paying a corrupt contractor a hundred thousand bucks to study the issue, having more meetings, attaching a rider to build something expensive in a sparsely populated area, and then having a final vote that agrees that because it's an election year, the final decision of what to do with the nickel is best put off until next year, at which point the contractor will be paid to further investigate the nickel and several more riders will be attached.

NASA's share is so tiny of the budget it's hardly a rounding error. :\


RE: Other things first
By bdunbar on 9/5/2006 12:12:38 AM , Rating: 2
Edwards from Carbon Designs guess-timates 10 bilion. We're more conservative and have some (we think) better data and say 20 billion.

And so? BP put in a new deep ocean oil right in 2005. It cost $10 billion. It's not cheap but it's money that private companies toss around all the time.

Also note that NASA is nowhow noway saying they are going to build one. Liftport (bias warning I work there) says we can after we study the thing for a few more years but we don't want the government to do it - we can (with some luck) get the job done using private capital.

So - no 'think of the children' moral quandry involved.

But wait - there is. Any means that reduces the transaction cost of transport _always_ generates wealth. If we're wealthy we can _buy_ those kids welfare and food. Conversly if we simply take our excess captial and buy food we'll be (relativly speaking) poor as dirt and can't afford frippery like welfare.

Rich and able to afford social toys like welfare and food stamps or poor dumb peasants scrabbling in the fields and everyone dying at 40?


RE: Other things first
By Ringold on 9/5/2006 7:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, you guys arent looking for one red government cent? Doing it privately?

To a red-blooded capitalist, LiftPort just became beautiful. Thats a great idea, 'cause NASA would do nothing but slow you people down, create cost overruns, and you guys would end up with another International Boondoggle, er, Space Station.


RE: Other things first
By bdunbar on 9/8/2006 8:32:12 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, you guys arent looking for one red government cent? Doing it privately?

No. Yes.

It can't be done without the government's help. We've already had extensive dealings with the FAA and we'll have more with other agencies in the future.

Too, if Uncle Sam is willing to pay some of the costs of development then we'd be foolish not to accept their help. The first customer is likely to be the government for that matter. They send up a lot of satellites and the cost savings should be enormous.

And this is okay. It's the job of the state to prime the pump for projects like this; always has been.

But yes, the goal is for Liftport to remain a private company and to build and operate a space elevator system.


RE: Other things first
By Viditor on 9/5/2006 1:10:59 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Why dont we spend money on fixing things here on earth first before we build an elevator to space

Because building an elevator to space could do just that (feed children, give us free energy, eliminate poverty) better than anything else we could spend the money on...

Some things to keep in mind...

1. The current proposed theory consists of a cable made of carbon nanotubes. This would be 100 times stronger than steel, and it would also conduct electricity with almost no resistance. If you deploy a large solar collector at the far end of the elevator (in an orbit where the sun "shines" all the time), you could use the generated power back on Earth to light a city.

2. The major cost of launching and maintaining satellites (or any other space effort) is overcoming the Earth's gravity well...with a Space Elevator, this cost is reduced to almost nothing. That would allow the launching of vastly more satellites (it brings the cost down to the $100s of thousands instead of $100s of millions). Satellites allow us to explore for more resources, predict weather better, increase security, predict natural disasters, reduce communications cost, etc...

3. There are more natural resources in the Asteroid Belt than there are here on Earth. Eliminating the barrier of Earth's gravity well makes mining that belt for resources much more economical.

4. As the population grows, the viable living areas on Earth cannot (without harming the whole planet). Colonization of other planets will be a VERY long process, but one that is absolutely necessary over the long haul (unless we start killing each other on a Grand Scale). Unless we begin that process soon, our future generations may find that we have left it too late.


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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