Alan Boyle and the Space Elevator ‘Reality Check’

I have a number of feeds in my RSS reader.  Periodically I go through and clear out a bunch that are no longer of interest to me.  One that I’ve never cleared out and always enjoyed reading is Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log.  Alan always finds the most interesting bit of information to pass along.  If you don’t subscribe to his blog, you’re missing a treat…

Alan has also been an avid follower of the efforts to develop a Space Elevator and has been to most of the competitions and most of the US conferences, including this year’s US Space Elevator Conference.

Here is his take on this year’s conference and the Space Elevator in general.  The picture with the tether that the Japanese team brought to this year’s Strong Tether competition shows that tether draped over yours truly’s fat fingers…

Alan refers to Ben Shelef’s Space Elevator Feasibility Condition paper and I’m glad he does.  As I’ve opined here before, I think this is the most significant paper that has come out of the space elevator community in quite some time.  It’s most important point states that unless some sort of unforeseen breakthrough can happen in the development of carbon nanotubes, we’re going to have to live with a tether that is no stronger than ~50 MYuris.  A tether / Space Elevator is still possible with this strength, but it gives us less leeway than we thought we had in the past.

I hope Ben is wrong about this (so does he), but if a ~50 MYuri tether is all we’re going to get, then we should start designing towards that.  This will be the subject of a future post.

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