The Times Online and Cambridge nanotube efforts

EuroSpaceward’s Markus Klettner today sent me a link to a new article about the Space Elevator in the Times Online.  The focus this article is the work being done at Cambridge University by a team headed up with Professor Alan Windle.  From the article:

“The Cambridge team is making about 1 gram of the high-tech material per day, enough to stretch to 18 miles in length. “We have Nasa on the phone asking for 144,000 miles of the stuff, but there is a difference between what can be achieved in a lab and on an industrial level,” says Alan Windle, professor of materials science at Cambridge University, who is anxious not to let the work get ahead of itself.”

I must admit to some scepticism about NASA really making enquiries about this; it’s always been my understanding that they sponsor the Space Elevator Games because of their interest in Power-Beaming and ultra-strong materials, not because they plan on building a Space Elevator.  It’s certainly not on any of NASA’s roadmaps and neither presidential candidate spoke about it – not even to win the Speculist competition! :)

I have emailed Professor Windle about this and will post his reply when I receive it.

I also liked the quote from Spaceward’s Ben Shelef;

“We are talking about something totally different from the conventional concept of space travel,” says Ben Shelef, chief executive officer of the Spaceward Foundation, NASA’s partner in the project. “This is not about three astronauts on a special mission, it is about hundreds of tons a day being lifted into orbit. I often say that we shouldn’t be dealing with NASA on this, we should be dealing with the US Department of Transportation.”

It’s an interesting article and worth the read…

(graphic from the Times Online article – click on it (or visit the article) to see a larger version)

8 thoughts on “The Times Online and Cambridge nanotube efforts

  1. Steel

    I first saw this article today – AIAA had mentioned it. This would be great news, and I wish it could be true…but I suspect not. There were no mention of specific results, such as strength and length.

    If it is really true, then why haven’t they entered the Tether Competition? There is $2M being given away to anyone who already has it in hand. That is good seed money for hiring a Business Development and Legal team! Or, less likely, are they trying to gouge NASA?

    Only time will tell…

    Reply
  2. Brian Wang

    I finally tracked down specifics of this work. [see the link in my name for this comemnt] From a press release of the 2nd International Conference on Space Elevator and Carbon Nanotube Tether Design in Luxembourg on Dec 14, 2008 Cambridge is making 9 Gpa strength material with a density of one gram per cc [same density as water] and believe that they can increase the strength to 10 GPa and make it in meter lengths in time for a space elevator tether competition in late April, 2009. [Competition tethers must be 2 meters long and a maximum of 2 grams.] They are also scaling this up to industrial scale over the next few years.

    Reply
  3. Ted Semon Post author

    The current ‘best’ location is in the Pacific ocean, several hundred miles west of South America, on or very near the equator.

    It would be good to have multiple elevators, for redundancy.

    Reply

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