It’s a good primer on what a space elevator is and what it can be used for.
Money quote from the article:
…Getting material from the ground to Earth orbit is tough. To reach a real orbit one needs approximately Mach 25 with a high lateral velocity component. A standard chemical rocket expends around 95% of its mass to do that. This leaves about 5% payload, following the rocket equation.
That is why most of today’s private space tourist industry only aims for ballistic launches. Anything going into orbit currently also has to be disassembled to fit into a rocket payload bay, i.e., down to 20-30tons.
The payload has to be vibration-proofed because of vibrations encountered during a rocket launch. Once in orbit everything has to be reassembled and tested. The process ends up being really expensive and prevents substantial space infrastructure from being built.
There are few alternatives to chemical rockets to launch anything from the ground to orbit. The Space Elevator is one possibility that holds the promise to beat the rocket equation for scalable access to space…
I recently attended the EuroSpaceward conference where Dr. Lades gave a talk on Project Clavis – a proposal for an international research project on ultra-long CNT growth.
Thank you Dr. Lades and thank you What’s Happening Magazine.