Why take a rocket ship when you could take a space elevator?The futuristic space transportation system, first proposed more than 100 years ago and later popularized by science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, could lead to profoundly lower costs of launching anything into space, while increasing the amount of cargo capacity – both material and human – for orbital trips, estimates suggest.
A space elevator would likely involve a cable – aka a tether or ribbon – stretching from the surface of our planet into orbit. A recent BBC Future feature explained the basic concept: An anchor and Earth’s gravity at the lower end, plus a counterweight and centrifugal force at the top end, would keep the elevator’s tether taut and stationary over a fixed, ground-based station. Robotic “climbers” would then ascend the ribbon from the surface, through the stratosphere and into space, potentially powered by lasers.
Among the major challenges this massive engineering plan faces: creating long strands of an extremely strong but lightweight material to construct the cable, as well figuring out how to operate the system.
As a manufacturer dedicated to innovative design and manufacture of electronic controls, Etratech understands the need for BIG ideas. And today’s innovative thinkers, dreamers and doers are working to make this particular one a reality
The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), a consortium of organizations and individuals worldwide promoting the development, construction and operation of a space elevator, organized the 2012 Space Elevator Conference in Seattle, Wash., in August. The annual conference engages an international audience of scientists, engineers, inventors, educators, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and students in discussions of space elevator development. The theme of this year’s conference: “Space Elevator Operations and Maintenance.”