June 26, 2004
Going Up, Pt 2
Posted by scott at June 26, 2004 07:36 AM
Slashdot linked up this AP story about new developments with the space elevator project. This time it's an interview with the head of the project, which has already been given $500,000 for basic research. His take: 15 years from start to finish, 10 billion dollars. Sounds like a lot until you compare it to the cost of the ISS.
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They mention the 62,000 miles... That seems to be the technical definition of space (as per the spaceshipone articles recently). But I've heard that the platform of the elevator would neet to be at geosynchronous orbit. Are the two heights the same?
Actually, I believe 50 miles is the definition, and SS1 went up to 62 miles (nice to know I'm not the only one to ocassionally drop a decimal point or three). 62k is the rough altitude of geosynch, and yes that would be required for a space elevator.
The concept has been around for years, but nobody knew of a material strong enough to take the strains. When buckminsterfullerene ("fullerenes", "buckyballs") was discovered, one of the very first things people noted was it was strong enough to make a space elevator cable.
The rest has mostly been engineering, and (in the US at least) engineering problems are nearly always simply a matter of time and money.