Nice , but some things will never happen. Space Elevators are so fraught with danger as to be a non starter idea. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator_safety for the number of problems that need working around to make them safe.
Although the technologies necessary to build a space elevator do not exist today, by the 2040’s, if molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence continue to advance exponentially, this wonder tech may become possible.
Posted by Christian Corralejo on 01/03 at 02:55 PM
I don’t think building it is the problem. Its the potential hazards that would threaten a space elevator and its constructors/users that are the problem. Here’s what the Wikipedia page says:
For early systems, transit times from the surface to the level of geosynchronous orbit would be about five days. On these early systems, the time spent moving through the Van Allen radiation belts would be enough that passengers would need to be protected from radiation by shielding, which adds mass to the climber and decreases payload.
A space elevator would present a navigational hazard, both to aircraft and spacecraft. Aircraft could be diverted by air-traffic control restrictions. All objects in stable orbits that have perigee below the maximum altitude of the cable that are not synchronous with the cable will impact the cable eventually, unless avoiding action is taken. One potential solution proposed by Edwards is to use a movable anchor (a sea anchor) to allow the tether to “dodge” any space debris large enough to track.
Impacts by space objects such as meteoroids, micrometeorites and orbiting man-made debris, pose another design constraint on the cable. A cable would need to be designed to maneuver out of the way of debris, or absorb impacts of small debris without breaking.
Most arguments against the SE assume that today’s world will not change over the next thirty or forty years, but technologies will not stand still.
For example, radiation dangers could be eliminated with genetically-engineering people to become immune to the threat.
And as molecular nanotechnology advances, many believe this could provide nano-robots that with tomorrow’s technology, may even be able to create an ‘immune’ area around the SE to protect it from space objects and debris.
Exponentially-advancing technologies could solve all issues that stand in the way of developing this easy access to space.
However, some believe that one day we will harness ‘anti-gravity’, which would make the SE unnecessary. Wild concept, but who knows?
Will the future advance in such an optimistic manner? Positive futurists believe that it will.
Agreed. Space Elevators will be possible, but not practical.
Those who think of them as an ultra-tall structure that may collapse, don’t understand that it’s an object that’s actually in geostationary orbit (its center of mass, anyway) that happens to be long enough to reach the ground. However…
It’s a slow ride through the VanAllens (most rockets use high-thrust transfers to GEO or escape, and don’t linger in them) to reach the geostationary (and by definition, zero inclination) orbital point…that you may not have wanted. Not everyone needs to go to GEO, many users will want/need much lower and/or different inclination orbits, but the lower you get off the structure, the more horizontal velocity you must quickly generate on your own.
And they’re a stationary target for any objects that are in anything *other* than geostationary orbit. Every orbiting object crosses (or coincides with) the equator, and sooner or later, it’s going to be at that particular longitude…
And the necessary light-but-strong structural materials will also improve the case for rockets and all other flying machines.