December 15th, 2009
This video is from the recently completed Space Elevator Games. It shows what ‘went wrong’ with a Climber pick-up before the problems were fixed and then it ‘went right’. Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates, is narrating.
And one more Space Elevator-themed video. I think I posted an earlier version of this, but this is the ‘final version’…
In general, this video has it’s facts correct with a few exceptions.
The main advantage of a Space Elevator is it’s scalability (i.e. it’s ability to scale up to carry huge amounts of material into space), not it’s relatively lower cost/kilogram to get something into orbit. I can’t emphasize this enough. With a Space Elevator (and only with a Space Elevator), you can lift the enormous quantities of material you need to colonize the moon or mars or establish a significant amount of space solar power.
Scalability people, think scalability. The video is correct in comparing the Space Elevator to the intercontinental railway for that’s what a Space Elevator is - a carbon railway to space.
Another mistake in the video is at the end when he is fancifully showing space elevators begin stationed near Spain or Japan. While it’s possible to build a Space Elevator in those areas, the many problems which will occur (and have been described in the Edwards-Westling book) will almost certainly preclude it.
And finally, I must disagree with a third point of the video - that whoever builds the first Space Elevator will control access to space. Even if the United States (or Russia or the ESA, etc.) does not build the first one, they have the resources to build one later on. Certainly whoever builds one first will own a huge commercial advantage, but only until that second elevator is up and running.
It might sound like I’m dissing this video - I’m not. It’s well done and has most of its facts correct. But we need to have all of our facts correct if we’re going to convince someone that this is an idea worth doing…