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why i chose space elevators
Why I Chose Space Elevators
  • Implementation of a “space elevator” would revolutionize man’s accessibility to space the same way the automobile changed our mobility on earth’s surface. In fact, the true impact is probably beyond anyone’s speculation, much as Henry Ford didn’t truly know what he was starting.
  • My research is inexorably linked to satellites, so I have more than a casual interest in how those bits of metal and silicon get launched into space.

Space Elevators

Jeri Brunson

NanoChemistry Seminar

Nov. 14, 2005


Student Affiliation:

Dept. of Physics, USU



Getting To Space

  • Shuttle failure is currently
  • 2% or 1 out of every 100 flights.
  • Aging orbiters – 1 of 57.
  • Each launch costs around
  • 1 billion dollars



Future of the Space Shuttle

Photo from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - http://spaceinfo.jaxa.jp

Shuttle missions are now restricted to delivering payloads to the International Space Station, further diminishing the value of their use.


New Ideas and Concepts for Space Access

  • Russian scientist,
  • Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, was
  • inspired by the Eiffel Tower
  • in 1895.
  • In 1978, science fiction author, Arthur C. Clark, wrote about carbon fiber materials that would fulfill
  • Tsiolkovsky’s vision.



Mechanics of Space Elevators

r = 42,170 km

v = 3070 m/s


The weight of the cable and climbers becomes important in determining the counterweight.


Building a Tether

  • The tether must be able to
  • withstand the Earth’s atmosphere
  • and the space environment.
  • High voltages and currents
  • develop as it cuts through the Earth’s
  • magnetic field.
  • It must be both extremely light-
  • weight and stronger than any material
  • now used in aerospace construction.

Photo from Wikipedia –



Nanotubes Get Involved

  • Carbon nanotubes and carbon nanotube composite materials show great promise for use in developing a space elevator.
  • Potentially 100x stronger
  • than steel, flexible like plastic.
  • Long chains could be braided together, short chains encased in a polymer matrix.

Photo from Georgia Institute of Technology http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu


Conceptual Designs

Conceptual designs from Liftport Group - http://www.liftport.com/

And European Space Agency - http://www.esrin.esa.it/


Future of Space Elevators

Time estimates for viable elevators range from decades to centuries.

“We’re closer now than lightyears to go.”– R.E. M.

  • NASA
  • Liftport Group
  • Institute for Scientific Research
  • Wikipedia.com 