Sunday, January 2, 2011

Will NASA Succeed In My Lifetime?

Succeed at what you ask?  At constructing a Space Elevator of course.  WHAT?... Read on.

The space elevator is a proposed non-rocket spacelaunch structure (a structure designed to transport material from Earth into space). Many elevator variants have been suggested, all of which involve travelling along a fixed structure instead of using rocket powered space launch. The concept most often refers to a cable that reaches from the surface of the Earth on or near the Equator to geostationary orbit (GSO) and a counter-mass outside of the atmosphere.
Discussion of a space elevator dates back to 1895 when Konstantin Tsiolkovsky[1] proposed a free-standing "Tsiolkovsky" tower reaching from the surface of Earth to geostationary orbit. Most recent proposals focus on tethers reaching from geostationary orbit to the ground. The tethers would be held in tension between Earth and the counterweight in space like a guitar string held taut.

Carbon nanotubes are one of the candidates for a cable material
Recent conceptualizations for a space elevator are notable in their plans to use carbon nanotube based materials in the tether design, since the measured strength of microscopic carbon nanotubes appears great enough to make this possible.  Technology as of 1978 could produce elevators for locations in the solar system with weaker gravitational fields, such as the Moon or Mars.
David Smitherman of NASA/Marshall's Advanced Projects Office has compiled plans for such an elevator that could turn science fiction into reality. His publication, Space Elevators: An Advanced Earth-Space Infrastructure for the New Millennium, is based on findings from a space infrastructure conference held at the Marshall Space Flight Center last year. The workshop included scientists and engineers from government and industry representing various fields such as structures, space tethers, materials, and Earth/space environments. 
"This is no longer science fiction," said Smitherman. "We came out of the workshop saying, 'We may very well be able to do this.'" 


  1. ummmmmm, how could this even work??? I mean wouldn't an elevator being attatched from earth to a counterweight in space do 1 of 2 things either break with the rotation of earth as the earth and the counter weight become unaligned or 2 somehow actually stop the earth from rotating?? or would the rotation of the earth actually drag the counterweight with it?

  2. also how could the prevent this elevator that is sticking out of the earth into space from being hit by objects floating around in space?? and i would also think that this would be the 1st ever elevator that would have a bathroom in it or they would have some serious bathroom issues unless this evelator got to it's destination fast enough

  3. I think the earth is to big to be put off by something a trillion times smaller coming from it. I can't see how it's possible to break the orbit.

  4. Wouldnt the atmosphere just burn the middle ssection up? If this was a reality it would be better that the concept that space port america has.

  5. It's just a concept so far, it's nowhere near being built, it probably won't even be built in anyones lifetime alive on Earth today.

  6. The only reason things burn in atmosphere is not because the atmosphere just burns... When a object going through re-entry (keyword) burns it is because of the speed at which it comes in at. The friction of the air around the vehicle heats it thus is burns. When a object is not moving very much at all (I won't say static but negligible) it will not burn. I would be more worried about the length of time said thing could be up there. Eventually I could see the materials stretching and breaking after a long period of time.