A couple of days ago, I had posted a link to a blog entry which stated that Professor Mark Welland, FRS, had said that the idea of a “Space Elevator” was nonsense. I had also written that I was going to attempt to contact Professor Welland to try and get some clarity on the matter.
Professor Welland has responded to my query and I quote him here:
“In my talk I was discussing in general terms some of the aspects of nanotechnology that have been over hyped. I gave as an example a proposed space elevator that was on the front cover of the American Scientist magazine. Next to this image I showed the material referred to and pointed out the enormous difference between a hypothetical elevator based on the ideal strength of carbon nanotubes and the reality of the actual material that can be currently synthesised. If one puts the figures in for actual material performance as opposed to ideal performance one can easily see that material is simply not strong enough. This of course was the calculation I was referring to.”
So, his issue was that the current state of nanotube technology cannot spin them strong enough to build a Space Elevator. Well, we all know that and most of us believe that the technology WILL get there (and quickly, I hope).