Space Elevator Reality Sooner Than You Think

By: Steve Wylde

Earlier this year at TEDx Talk, Markus Landgraf gave a talk about the near realities of Space Elevators and what they can mean for expediting space travel and establishing space colonies with the increased ability for transportation of materials out of our atmosphere and into space.

Space Elevator Carbon Nanotube FibersAn elevator to space in its simplest form is having a long cable anchored to the earth, and the cable extends up to a satellite like object that is orbiting our earth. Then we can utilize a vehicle or elevator-like compartment that would pull itself up and out into space.

One of the last challenges to overcome to make space elevators a reality is refining the technology of creating the actual cable. There is a company in China that developed long CNT fibers (carbon nanotubes fibers) that are close to being able to be the appropriate material for such a space elevator. The challenge is that they are not quite “pure” enough yet with kinks and defects that need to be refined still.

Langraf believes the solution might be in Multiwall Nanotubes (pdf resource). These can actually be grown to make obtaining enough of the material a reality. Multiwall Nanotubes very well may unlock the secret to creating the space elevator cables that will give us the ability to transport materials into space to create substantial structures in space, bases or maybe even a lunar elevator to bring space tourists to hotels on the moon, etc. 

Space Elevator Progress

If you are interested in learning more on the reality of space elevators, the 2013 Space Elevator Conference will be held at Seattle's Museum of Flight from August 23-25 organzied by ISEC - International Space Elevator Consortium. There is also a Space Elevator group in Japan - Japan Space Elevator Agency and one in Europe - EuroSpaceward. 

For more on Space Elevator Progress and Carbon Nanotube fibers here is the TEDx Talk. ( Video switches from German to English at 2:09 in video)



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