Skip to comments.Japan hopes to turn sci-fi into reality with elevator to the stars
Posted on 09/21/2008 5:17:49 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
From cyborg housemaids and waterpowered cars to dog translators and rocket boots, Japanese boffins have racked up plenty of near-misses in the quest to turn science fiction into reality.
Now the finest scientific minds of Japan are devoting themselves to cracking the greatest sci-fi vision of all: the space elevator. Man has so far conquered space by painfully and inefficiently blasting himself out of the atmosphere but the 21st century should bring a more leisurely ride to the final frontier.
For chemists, physicists, material scientists, astronauts and dreamers across the globe, the space elevator represents the most tantalising of concepts: cables stronger and lighter than any fibre yet woven, tethered to the ground and disappearing beyond the atmosphere to a satellite docking station in geosynchronous orbit above Earth.
An artist's impression of the platform of the proposed space elevator, which would climb
62,000 miles into space
Up and down the 22,000 mile-long (36,000km) cables or flat ribbons will run the elevator carriages, themselves requiring huge breakthroughs in engineering to which the biggest Japanese companies and universities have turned their collective attention.
In the carriages, scientists behind the idea told The Times, could be any number of cargoes. A space elevator could carry people, huge solar-powered generators or even casks of radioactive waste. The point is that breaking free of Earth's gravity will no longer require so much energy perhaps 100 times less than launching the space shuttle.
Just like travelling abroad, anyone will be able to ride the elevator into space, Shuichi Ono, chairman of the Japan Space Elevator Association, said.
The vision has inspired scientists around the world and government organisations including Nasa. Several competing space elevator projects are gathering pace as various groups vie to build practical carriages,
(Excerpt) Read more at timesonline.co.uk ...
Didn’t I see this on South Park?
Arthur C. Clarke predicted that in 1979 in “The Fountains of Paradise”.
From what I’ve read the material strengths required for the cable are so far beyond anything available that this idea is not feasible. I’d also be curious how you get a cable that big up there in the first place.
It is for real. It is serious science, and the nation which builds one could own the earth.
Imagine cheap, accurate, orbiting weapons, as many as you want...
Besides materials, you have one hell of an electrical potential.
Carbon nanotubes are candidates that seem to approach practicality. It’ll take 20 more years of work. The cable is assembled from geosynchronous orbit with on-site manufacture of the cable. You have to boost the materials for the first one up there the old fashioned way. Kind of like the transcontinental railroad, the cost savings pay for it. In particular, once the first one is up the next one can be assembled much more cheaply because the transportation cost is way less.
He was the first with the idea of geosynchronous communications satellites. He wasn’t the first with the idea of a space elevator, but he’s an authority on the subject.
“In particular, once the first one is up the next one can be assembled much more cheaply because the transportation cost is way less.”
Seems it would be very sensitive to flying objects and other threats. Not to mention weather patterns.
The science seems fun though.
Fine idea in a world devoid of mohammedans crashing aircraft into tall structures
Imagine the result if that cable did get cut.
Some other sources
If we didn't have to pay to keep the ChiComs out of Japland we could do it.
Too bad strength of materials has nothing to do with its feasibility. :’)
I always thought the biggest dream of science fiction was a foldspace door - turn a key and walk through it to somewhere else.
This... will... never... happen! But researchers will always be looking for investors.
We had about $700B set aside for this project ... but ... ah ... we ended up spending the money ... somewhere else.
I can't quite recall the exact details, but years ago there was one science-fiction writer who made the consequences of a space elevator cable snapping or being sabotaged, a staple of several stories. Girdle of fire around the planet...