Space elevator: audacious idea will open space to entrepreneurs

April 30 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the Space Elevator. Your first stop will be ‘Hotel Row’ where we will enjoy a 2-hour dinner under the stars; then we continue on to the Geosynchronous Way Station where most of you will transfer to an L-5 Colony shuttlecraft. This entire ride takes 8 days, so sit back and enjoy the trip from your luxury sleeping quarters”.

This scene may sound like science fiction, but it is not. According to visionaries, the Space Elevator, a revolutionary means of transport from Earth to space could become reality by as early as 2030 or before.

Here is how it will work: A special rocket-launched satellite in geo-synchronous orbit would drop a ribbon made from nano-materials to a platform in the sea near the equator. The stationary ribbon will eventually extend to 62,000 miles high and allow 20-ton elevator cars to climb into space at 120 mph using electricity generated from solar-power and lasers.

Two Seattle startups, Michael Laine’s Liftport Group, and Brad Edwards’ Sedco are competing to build this risky project. Both believe they can do it over the next couple of decades at a cost of about $20 billion. This radical new system is expected to lower costs of hauling stuff into space from $10,000 per pound to $100 and eventually to $10 per pound. A 200 lb person could travel to space for $2,000.

This enterprising endeavor promises affordable orbital access, which will attract entrepreneurs from around the world seeking a piece of the lucrative space market. PayPal founder Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are among the more recognizable names investing in this and other space-related activities.(cont.)

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Space Elevator Concept Takes Some Damage

March 31 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 8

It’s time to recalibrate those space elevator predictions. A new study published in the journal Acto Astronautica claims that the potential for catastrophic wobble is much higher than previously predicted.

Even if a space elevator could be built, it will need thrusters attached to it to prevent potentially dangerous amounts of wobbling, says Lubos Perek of the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Astronomical Institute in Prague. The addition would increase the difficulty and cost of building and maintaining the elevator. – New Scientist

Check out this video to see what might befall a space elevator not supported by thrusters:

Now that’s one extreme, world-class case of whip-lash.

(via New Scientist)

Enlarge Our Minds to an Idea that is Out of This World

May 01 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future
Category: Business & Work   Year: Beyond   Rating: 6 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from

(Editors Note: Earlier today, my colleague at Future Blogger, Dick Pellitier, had a thoughtful piece on the prospect of a space elevator. I would like to add my two cents to this debate. The following article was written this past fall and originally appeared on TechCentralStation).

In the fall of 1825, New York Governor DeWitt Clinton boarded the Seneca Chief and traveled 500 miles from Buffalo to New York City to mark the opening of the Erie Canal. It was the beginning of an enterprise of immense economic and political significance in that it expanded the reach of American commerce and established New York as one of the world’s leading financial centers.

It is easy, in retrospect, to think the canal’s success was ordained from the beginning. It wasn’t. In 1810, when DeWitt Clinton, then mayor of New York City, first proposed building the 363-mile, 83 lock canal, Gouverneur Morris, responded by saying “Our minds are not yet enlarged to the size of so great an object.” Another Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, was more biting in his criticism, writing to Clinton, “It is a splendid project, and may be executed a century hence. It is little short of madness to think of it this day.”

Jefferson’s reasoning was solid. The project was budgeted to cost $6 million—a sum then equal to three-fourths of the federal government budget. In fact, the scale of the project was so massive that it was determined it would be the biggest public works project since the Great Pyramid and would consist of digging and removing over 11 million cubic yards of earth. It is no wonder that many decried it as “Clinton’s ditch.”

Fortunately, Clinton persisted and while he wasn’t able to persuade the federal government to support the idea, he did win over the citizens of New York and in 1817 the state legislature approved the funding for the project. (cont.)

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