PDA

View Full Version : Break Through for "Space Elevators"



LouPhinFan
01-20-2009, 03:21 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/features/article5529668.ece



Ever since it was first popularised by Arthur C Clarke, the idea of a “space elevator” has languished in the realms of science fiction. But now a team of British scientists has taken the first step on what could be a high-tech stairway to heaven.

Spurred on by a $4m (£2.7m) research prize from Nasa, a team at Cambridge University has created the world’s strongest ribbon: a cylindrical strand of carbon that combines lightweight flexibility with incredible strength and has the potential to stretch vast distances. The development has been seized upon by the space scientists, who believe the technology could allow astronauts to travel into space via a cable thousands of miles long — a space elevator.


Very cool. We will likely see a space elevator within our lifetimes.

Tetragrammaton
01-21-2009, 02:12 AM
Fascinating, but I am getting fed up. Back to the Future II took place in 2015, and we are never going to make that up in six years.

ih8brady
01-21-2009, 04:37 AM
In England, they call them "Space Lifts."

Locke
01-27-2009, 05:12 AM
Before I die, I want to take a space elevator to the moon and ride bumper cars on the moon, all Futurama style....

PhinPhan1227
01-27-2009, 08:44 AM
Think about it though. Some kid jumps in right behind you and pushes the buttons for all three million, nine hundred and twenty six floors. So it takes you twelve hundred years to get to the top floor....sheesh!

eric1589
01-27-2009, 01:47 PM
i dont see this space elevator being realized anytime soon, if ever.

LouPhinFan
01-27-2009, 04:25 PM
i dont see this space elevator being realized anytime soon, if ever.

I beg to differ. Economics will bring it to reality. Its so much cheaper to send cargo into orbit using this technology than it is to use chemical rockets.

I'd say this will happen sometime in the next 2 decades.

PhinPhan1227
01-27-2009, 04:31 PM
I beg to differ. Economics will bring it to reality. Its so much cheaper to send cargo into orbit using this technology than it is to use chemical rockets.

I'd say this will happen sometime in the next 2 decades.

That seems a bit optimistic. Don't forget, making the "shaft" is only one part of the problem. Here's a much bigger one...how do you secure it to the planet? You are going to have something which excerts possibly millions of tons OUTWARD from the planet. You can't exactly nail that down. Here's another one...if the shaft snaps near the top, it's coming back down to earth. That's a potential tragedy in the making. Lastly, you need a reason to go through the massive expense. Mining asteroids might do it, but that technology needs to be developed as well. 20 years isn't very much time. It will take half that time at least to get the 2nd gen shuttle program working.

LouPhinFan
01-27-2009, 08:54 PM
That seems a bit optimistic. Don't forget, making the "shaft" is only one part of the problem. Here's a much bigger one...how do you secure it to the planet? You are going to have something which excerts possibly millions of tons OUTWARD from the planet. You can't exactly nail that down. Here's another one...if the shaft snaps near the top, it's coming back down to earth. That's a potential tragedy in the making. Lastly, you need a reason to go through the massive expense. Mining asteroids might do it, but that technology needs to be developed as well. 20 years isn't very much time. It will take half that time at least to get the 2nd gen shuttle program working.

We have the technology to do all those things already. Someone just has to want to put it all together. Mining asteroids is a strong possiblity.

PhinPhan1227
01-28-2009, 08:46 AM
We have the technology to do all those things already. Someone just has to want to put it all together. Mining asteroids is a strong possiblity.

Theoretical technology, and practical technology are two different things. We have landed on exactly one asteroid, and that was an impact situation, not a "land, mine, take off" situation. We also don't currently have even a plan of how to deal with the cable coming back down to earth in a catastrophic failure. And again, you're talking about a MASSIVE expenditure. What if the asteroids aren't economically viable? Nobody is going to build this thing just to explore space.

Dolphan7
01-28-2009, 03:06 PM
Think about it though. Some kid jumps in right behind you and pushes the buttons for all three million, nine hundred and twenty six floors. So it takes you twelve hundred years to get to the top floor....sheesh!
:sidelol:

That is the funnist post I have read in a month.

eric1589
01-28-2009, 04:02 PM
from what i saw about this idea on tv, it would not be a shaft. it would be a giant ribbon made out of carbon nano-tubes. it would some how be anchored to earth on one end. the other end would extend far enough into space that an orbiting counter weight could be used to keep the ribbon tight.

PhinPhan1227
01-28-2009, 04:46 PM
from what i saw about this idea on tv, it would not be a shaft. it would be a giant ribbon made out of carbon nano-tubes. it would some how be anchored to earth on one end. the other end would extend far enough into space that an orbiting counter weight could be used to keep the ribbon tight.


When I said "shaft", I wasn't referring to a rigid shaft. But you still have a "shaft" that the elevator car can travel up. And you are talking about something massive enough to handle both its own weight, as well as the weight of the car and cargo. Then you have that "shaft" 30k kilometers long. Imagine what happens if the shaft breaks near the top. You have a massive shaft/ribbon, probably on the order of 80-100 feet across, and 30k miles long, falling back to earth. That's a remarkable amount of potential damage.

1 dol fan
02-15-2009, 03:09 PM
I never actually thought this would be a viable option. imagine, an comet comes flying into earth (which normally would burn up in the atmosphere) and hits this ribbon of carbon nanotubes... I know nanotubes are strong but...

Miamian
02-19-2009, 03:44 AM
Another issue would be the durability of the materials used. How often do they have to be replaced? What if there is a defect somewhere along the line?