I received an email from ScienceDirect listing their “TOP 25 Hottest Articles“, a list of the 25 most downloaded articles from Acta Astronautica. Number 4 on the list is titled “Design and Deployment of a Space Elevator“, a November, 2000 article from Dr. Brad Edwards. The abstract of the article reads:
“The space elevator was first proposed in the 1960s as a method of getting into space. The initial studies of a space elevator outlined the basic concept of a cable strung between Earth and space but concluded that no material available at the time had the required properties to feasibly construct such a cable. With the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991 it is now possible to realistically discuss the construction of a space elevator. Although currently produced only in small quantities, carbon nanotubes appear to have the strength-to-mass ratio required for this endeavor. However, fabrication of the cable required is only one of the challenges in construction of a space elevator. Powering the climbers, surviving micrometeor impacts, lightning strikes and low-Earth–orbit debris collisions are some of the problems that are now as important to consider as the production of the carbon nanotube cable. We consider various aspects of a space elevator and find each of the problems that this endeavor will encounter can be solved with current or near-future technology.”
Obviously the thinking about how the ‘Edwards-Westling model’ of the Space Elevator has evolved over the past several years, but it’s encouraging to see how even this relatively older article is still of such interest to the Acta Astronautica readership.
Click here to see the entire list (list in pdf format – links intact so you can preview all of the article abstracts).