Space elevator

I’m fascinated by the “space elevator” idea. It still really sounds like science fiction but apparently the technology needed to complete such a project already exists. Keithcu explains some of the technology involved and argues why NASA should be focussing on this rather than putting people back on the moon. I’m curious why Bush/NASA are planning to spend $100 billion and the next 12 years to put humans back on the moon by 2018 when we already completed that milestone back in 1969 … or did we? *suspicious*
Anyway i’m inclined to agree with Keith. If we have the technology and know-how then why not put efforts into such a project which should save a lot of money in the long term?
From The Liftport Group:

The space elevator would allow for the lifting of large fragile structures, such as solar energy satellites which would provide clean renewable energy to Earth, inflated stations for manned activities, factories for pharmaceuticals, and payloads for exploration of space. Lifters can be tested easily — to insure reliability and brought back if there is a problem. The reliability and safety of the space elevator is calculated to be much better than any rocket-based launch system. A second generation, larger space elevator (100,000 kg capacity) would allow for extensive human activities in space including a large geosynchronous station (hundreds of permanent residents) and settlements on Mars within the first few years of operation.

Very interesting stuff. Some related reading;
The Space Elevator Comes Closer to Reality, Wikipedia: Space Elevator, The Space Elevator Reference.

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  1. I thought the whole reason to put people back on the moon was to build a permanent base with a mind to Mars exploration. But apparently, they’re going to bottle it and just do Apollo: the reprise.

  2. I don’t see any advantages to a moon base to be honest. Their biggest problem is getting people into space frequently & safely. The elevator seems like the best way. And they could just build an orbiting base anyway, ISS Part 2 perhaps?

  3. As for ‘why’ a base on the moon? Why not. Some people will want to go; there will be economic reaons for them to do so and work for them to do.

    I like to think of NASA’s new plan as getting back to what they do best – exploration. Leave it to private enterprise to fill in behind them and settle up the place.

    For that last task a space elevator will be all kinds of good.

  4. The only answer I can give for “why not”, is why not spend the time/money/energy on something which would be more advantageous, which I believe the space elevator would be.
    If the elevator was in place it would probably make exploration easier, it would solve the problem of getting shuttles into orbit and back to earth again. IMO.

    p.s. welcome to the site Brian. Do you work for Liftport? Sounds like a very interesting place to work.

  5. Space elevator! Could do with some more space on the elevators at work ….

    One reason for a moonbase as opposed to a space station, is that one can get many resouces from the moon and set up industrial facalities. Also, they suspect there is ice on the moon (from comets) that they might be able to use and be less dependent on earth. Plus, if you build on the moon, or rather, under the moons surface you get more protection for Solar Radiation and Cosmic Rays than a space station with tin walls …