Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Earth is constantly spinning. So if you attach a counterweight to it with a cable, and put it far enough away—62,000 miles—the cable will be held taut by the force of the planet’s rotation, just as if you spun around while holding a ball on a string. And if you’ve got a taut cable, you’ve got the makings of an elevator.
As strange as that sounds—push the “Up” button, climb in, and soar off into weightless bliss—don’t be surprised if it happens. The space elevator is where the PC was in the 1960s: The theory is solid, the materials exist, and people in garages are starting to tinker with the next step. Two Seattle startups are competing to build the elevator. Both believe they can do it within 15 years at a cost of $10 billion. NASA and China’s space agency are eager to help make it happen.
And no wonder: A working elevator would reduce the cost of launching anything into space by roughly 98 percent.
Read more here.
Bill C adds: I have read about this also. There are a lot of issues but producing enough carbon nano tubes for the cable and connecting it to the earth is the biggest cost and engineering problem.