Second Round of Space Elevator Technology Completed
February 16, 2006 2:23 AM
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Courtesy LiftPort Group
The LiftPort Group has a bold and interesting plan -- to build a massive space elevator before 2020
The LiftPort Group has completed a second round of
testing on a prototype space elevator platform
that stretches a mile into the sky, which allows a robots to climb and descend the ribbon that is between the two platforms. The LiftPort Space Elevator would allow a revolutionary way to get cargo and supplies into space -- using a cable thousands of miles long tethered to an object in geosyncronous orbit. The company hopes to build the space elevator by the year 2018, but the task will obviously not be easy. The observation and communication platform that robots climbed is properly dubbed HALE, High Altitude Long Endurance. HALE was secured in place by several high altitude balloons for over six hours.
The ribbon that will hopefully stretch 62,000 miles from Earth into space will be made of carbon nanotubes weighing less than 1.5 pounds per mile. Although initial testing was done in Arizona, the space elevator will likely be anchored to an offshore sea platform that will be located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
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2/16/2006 10:37:11 AM
... makes sense to me.
i like the idea i read about in popular science about space balloons. i forget exactly what the name of the project was. anyways, it involves floating small labs (probably about the size of my one bedroom apt.) into very high stratospheric orbit. they would never completely leave the atmosphere, but the balloons would be high enough to do some interesting observations or possible act as a launching platform for smaller satellites.
keep in mind, i'm not talking about something a small as a zepplin. in the article, these things were half a kilometer in diameter and made of three humongous tubes filled with helium. i think the point here was that it was much cheaper, simpler, and safer than using the shuttle. actually that seems to be the drive behind NASA's "challenge".
"Make Space Cheaper!"
2/16/2006 10:57:33 AM
I dont know why there's even so much debate, especially among common geeks like myself. NASA engineers have figured it out, private engineers have figured it out; the science is there. It can be done; there are only a couple restraints.
Price tag: If NASA does it, expect anything from billions to trillions. Government is wasteful, something said in the first week of a macro or micro econ class. If private business does it, expect the cost to be MUCH less, MUCH more innovative, possibly revolutionary.
Materials: What's the ribbon to be made of exactly? Thats really the missing link. It has to be able to withstand numerous holes getting punched in it from orbital waste, micrometeorites, etc, and there has to be huge margins of safety for possible terrorist attack.
Also, two smaller (easy/non important) issues are safety -- methods of safely landing the crawler in case of cable failure at ANY altitude -- from 10ft to 62,000m. Whole planes have parachutes these days, so thats easy. Also, engineers have pointed out that it'll slowly slow the orbit of the planet down..... After we haul Texas in to space, by a couple seconds per day.
This is like going to Mars. Could be done in 5-10 years, easy. Could have private industry on the Moon with a little push in 5 or less years. It's just a question of 'balls' and vision. NASA is a rounding error in our 2.7 trillion wellfare & military national budget.
2/16/2006 11:38:17 AM
I had read that the anchor at the earth end of a space elevator could be on an ocean platform that could be moved to avoid severe storms.
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