DailyDirt: Listening To Muzak On A Long Space Elevator Ride...

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Reliable space travel is slightly elusive. Sure, we have a few rocket systems that can take people up to low Earth orbit, but there's always the chance that those rockets will fail and explode in the sky. On top of that, re-usable rockets haven't quite lived up to their promised cost effectiveness, though some progress is being made on that front. A space elevator could provide a nice alternative, obviating the need for explosive chemical thrust to get to orbital altitudes. But where would we put it, if it's even possible to build one? (Maybe on Mars first....) After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.
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Filed Under: geosynchronous orbit, graphene, international space elevator consortium, isec, leo, space, space elevator, space exploration, space junk, space travel


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  • icon
    gordwait (profile), 10 Sep 2015 @ 5:26pm

    My favourite failure mode?

    Lightning strikes.

    Let's see your super thin carbon nanotube rope cut right through a thunderhead without frying.

    Harvesting electical power from clouds is an obvious thing, so nobody bother to patent in mkay?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 10 Sep 2015 @ 7:24pm

      Re: Let's see your super thin carbon nanotube rope cut right through a thunderhead without frying.

      It would never get to that point. The carbon conductor would short out the potential difference before it could build up to the point of a lightning strike.

      Remember, this is no mere lightning rod. This is a huge conductor with massive current capacity, extending from the ground right through every level of the atmosphere and beyond.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        pixelpusher220 (profile), 11 Sep 2015 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re: Let's see your super thin carbon nanotube rope cut right through a thunderhead without frying.

        It's always talked about the force needed to hold the weight of itself. What is rarely mentioned is the stresses from upper atmospheric super fast winds. Or hey, hurricanes, or a jet liner hitting it.

        I *love* the idea of a space elevator and perhaps the hurricanes could be resolved by moving the elevator if it's tied to an ocean located point but not sure how you get around the last part.

        Someone intent on destroying it is going to be able to get an aircraft and hit the thing. Militarizing it to the point of completely empty airspace seems unlikely at best, especially at higher and higher altitudes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 11 Sep 2015 @ 10:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Let's see your super thin carbon nanotube rope cut right through a thunderhead without frying.

          Anything strong enough to reach space and hold its own weight will cut through any known aircraft like a hot blade through butter. Idiots will TRY to bring down such a structure with planes... and die doing so. I'd be more worried about explosives used against the tether than aircraft. Imagine a super carbon nanotube big enough to reach space untethered and slashing through whatever gets in its way as it's blown around by those winds you mention.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Avatar28 (profile), 11 Sep 2015 @ 2:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: Let's see your super thin carbon nanotube rope cut right through a thunderhead without frying.

          Hurricanes won't be an issue because the elevator would have to be on the equator. Hurricanes can't cross the equator, not as hurricanes anyways. The winds are relatively calm within a few degrees of the equator like that as well.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2015 @ 6:02pm

    MUZAk! Think of the profits for hollywood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2015 @ 6:12pm

    Here you go...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XDJC64tDR0

    Rice University and the Dutch firm Teijin Aramid have figured out how to make carbon nanotube fibers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2015 @ 1:12am

    "There are more than a handful of significant challenges that need to be solved before anyone gets a working space elevator"

    yeah, like spending time with Neelix in a enclosed space for hours. No thanks, I would rather listen to Harry's latest recital.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Avatar28 (profile), 11 Sep 2015 @ 2:30pm

      Re: "There are more than a handful of significant challenges that need to be solved before anyone gets a working space elevator"

      Hours? Try days. Distance to geosynchronous orbit is a bit over 22,000 miles. Even if your space elevator car could average 1000 mph ascending that's still almost 24 hours to get there. It's doubtful that you're going to have climbers going 1000 mph though. A much more realistic speed might be 250 mph. Well your one day climb is now four days.

      Now let's consider that there are two ways to counterweight the elevator. The first method is to extend the cable as far out as it is from the earth, so a total length of around 45,000 miles. The other option is to anchor the cable to a small asteroid located a few thousand miles past geostationary orbit. The asteroid would be a more logical choice since it gives you the raw materials for a space station too. Just hollow it out, send the minerals down to earth for processing if they aren't going to be needed in space, and build your station inside it.

      Guess what, we'll assume the station is about 5000 miles past geostationary level. Now we're looking at another 20 hours. Basically five days up and five days down. A space elevator is great for getting lots of stuff up into space cheaply. Not so great for getting it up QUICKLY.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 16 Sep 2015 @ 5:14pm

        Re: that's still almost 24 hours to get there.

        You don’t need to go all the way to geosynchronous. Low-earth orbit (150km or so up) would be fine. Take a rocket to anywhere from there, and you still get a massive energy saving versus a launch from the ground.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2015 @ 3:05am

    I've seen enough anime to know where this is going....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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