Design and Deployment of a Space Elevator

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).

4 thoughts on “Design and Deployment of a Space Elevator

  1. Lacey

    I would just like to know what is going threw our countires head that they are willin to spend 10 billion dollars on going to space for fun? i am sorry but I find this absolutly discusting, there are people in the world that are starving and there are so many other things that you can be doing with this money, we have totally turned into this country that is all about gettin ahead and doing things for the purpose of making themselves better off? And now what is that? disterbing is what it is. Going to space on a freakin elevator is not something that the world is in dire need for. how about you use

  2. Lacey

    that money for something useful? as in the environment? how can we think about going to space when in just a few short years there is going to be nothing left so the world is going to be nothing? and you are concerned about takin the modern man to space? i think that it is just sick. I dont get how people sleep at night. just goes to show what the whole world has come to. i feel and will pray for you

  3. Mike Adler

    I have always been a big proponent of the space elevator, but have a few questions. (1) Is the elevator required to ascend the entire 62,000 mile trajectory to the top? Or can it stop at, say, 100 miles, pause, then descend? Would the pull of gravity at less than 62,000 rip the elevator off its nanotube cable if the beamed power were in “neutral”?. These questions are paramount for tourism into space(and the probable greatest revenue source for the project), because a 62,000 mile elevator ride at, say, 100 mph(which would make it the worlds fastest elevator) would take about 25 days up and 25 days down!!! How many rich tourists could afford to take off close to two months from their businesses, not to mention the wives and children taking that long away from the family or school? And would you like to be pretty much resticted(because of limited space and g forces) to a chair for 50 days and nights? Sending cargo or even spaceship components up would not be affected. If the elevator could pause at 100 miles high, then descend, the 2 or 3 hour round trip(with great views) are certainly easily doable.

  4. Ted Semon Post author

    Yes Mike, a climber can stop/start anywhere it likes on the ribbon. one of the hoped-for industries to evolve out of a Space Elevator is hotel or two at a hundred or two hundred miles up. The elevator rises to that point, the passengers depart, they spend a few hours admiring the view (in low gravity), perhaps have a very nice meal, maybe even stay overnight. Also, there are no issue with g forces on a Space Elevator – you’ll start off with normal weight and it will diminish as you go higher.

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