Essay on The Space Elevator: Science Fiction to Science Fact

Essay on The Space Elevator: Science Fiction to Science Fact

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In the recent century what used to be science fiction is quickly becoming a reality. Things like the space shuttle, super computers and robots are coming out of Hollywood and into the real world. The most recent projection is the space elevator project. It consists of a 62,000 mile long cable elevator to the stars. This project which was previously believed to be impossible and absurd is now on the fast track to success. This recent success can be attributed to both new technological developments and the fact that project barriers are being demolished.
First and foremost, when you decide to build something this size, in the most extreme environment possible, you must select your primary construction materials very carefully. In the case of the space elevator it’s not just wear and tear but the immense pull of earth’s gravity vs. the centrifugal force of the spin of the earth. These forces both work against the construction and maintenance of the elevator. The only material every dreamed up to survive this intense game of tuga-war is a carbon nanotube cable. These nanotubes were chosen to support the cable structure because they can withstand unearthly amounts of tension and stress. In concept, the massive cable will be stretched from an orbital platform down to an offshore sea platform thus creating the all important track that would guide the “elevator cars” up and down
With regard to constructing the “Elevator Car”, or climber mechanism, many ideas have been tossed around N.A.S.A. in the last 5 years. In addition, Space Forward challenged the world by asking private organizations to build there own mechanism and promised the wining team 4 million dollars for there work. As a result, the Space Elevator challenge began and th...

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... into space—make a trip to space much closer reality for my generation.

Despite, the fact that we appear to have all of the tools and engineered plans to make a space elevator a reality, unfortunately, right now humanity doesn’t have the man power or funds to take on such a project. With a Price tag over 40 Billion it would need to become not just a collaboration of the world powers but a directed world effort of every single space program on the planet. The planet would have to work together on the space elevator so that it could be used as a tool for the benefit of all humanity like the International Space Station. Without unanimous support for the space elevator project it will remain an “unadvanced” project and we will continue to allow our atmosphere to hinder our space exploration and to hinder our expansion into new areas “Where no man has gone before”.

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