Who will build the first, Earth-based Space Elevator?

At the recent Space Elevator Conference, I gave a presentation entitled “Who will build the first, Earth-based Space Elevator”?  This was also the title of the presentation which I gave at last year’s SESI conference.

To arrive at a reasonable, defendable answer for this question, I looked at the problem from two different angles:

  • What would be the motive for building the first, earth-based Space Elevator
  • Who would have the technical capabilities to actually build an earth-based Space Elevator

My conclusion was essentially the same as last year;

  • Only the profit-motive would be strong enough to drive the building of the first Earth-based space elevator
  • There are 7 ‘entities’ who would be capable (considering a 2025 ‘earliest-build-date) of actually building a Space Elevator

Based on that assumption, I believe that the two most likely probabilities are:

  • A consortium of US Companies partnering with the US Government
  • A Joint Venture between the Governments of Dubai and India

A third group I picked as a possibility (the ‘dark-horse’) in this race was an effort by the Japanese Government.  Based on what we saw at the recent conference, there is the beginnings of a serious effort underway in Japan to make this happen.

For details on why I picked what I did, you can view the presentation here (it’s a pdf file) and for more detailed reasons on why I picked a possible Joint Venture between the governments of Dubai and India, please read my post (‘Emerging Asia’) I put up about this last year.

You heard it here first…

5 thoughts on “Who will build the first, Earth-based Space Elevator?

  1. Brian Dunbar

    It’s possible that private enterprise could defend a space elevator against terrorist attack. I suppose it depends on the means the terrorists would attempt.

  2. Ted Semon Post author

    My point (and I didn’t make it clearly on the slides, but did so in the presentation) was that private enterprise would not be allowed by the world community to have the weapons necessary to defend it. I think the world would only tolerate a government defense operation, not a private one.

    Having said that, I suppose if the UN chartered something like this (a private consortium building and defending the SE), maybe it could happen. Even there, I think the UN would want its own forces to do the military work.

    IMHO, of course…

  3. Tom Nugent

    Excuse me, Ted, but have you heard of Halliburton? Or any of the other private contractors operating in Iraq? I don’t think any sort of weapons beyond what they have would be required to defend a sea station against terrorist attack.

  4. Ted Semon Post author

    Tom, please see my answer to the first comment – it’s not a question of capabilities, it’s a question of whether or not the world would allow something like this to happen. The private contractors in Iraq operate by the grace of the US Government. They must be sponsored by a government (who is responsible for them). I see the same thing in defending a Space Elevator.

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