Green Piece

The simple musings of a man who thought he knew everything . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Space Elevator

OK, to take a small break from politics (which I don't like to do very often) I wanted to share with you guys something that I find to be very exciting that will make space travel easier and will show you all how much of a geek I really am. It is called a space elevator.

A space elevator is, in essence, a geosynchronous satellite that has a ribbon (probably about 1/2 mile wide) reaching from the satellite to the ground. This would allow us to travel up and down the ribbon to get into space.

Why is this helpful? Because the expensive (and most dangerous) part of space travel is getting outside of our atmosphere and back into it. Being able to traverse up a nanotube ribbon would make this much cheaper and less dangerous.

Furthermore, I had an idea about a different possibility. Since the actual station will be 62,000 miles away from earth why wouldn't we put a giant nuclear reactor at the end of the tether? This would give us an energy producing factory reducing our dependance on foreign oil. Furthermore, there would be nobody complaining about a reactor in their backyard. We could transport the energy via hydrogen fuel cells and the reactor could be what powers the elevator itself.

Anyway you can read more about a space elevator here, at Wikipedia.

OK, my next post will be back to politics - thanks for indulging me.

4 Comments:

  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger Brian Dunbar said…

    Just a few thoughts.

    The width of the ribbon would not be 1/2 mile - not by a long shot. We're talking a meter at best.

    A nuclear reactor at the counterweight - what do you do with the energy it's producing? That's a long haul to get it back down the ribbon to the earth. And a shorter but still long haul to get it from the anchor to anyplace it could be used.

    But thanks for taking a break from politics and talking about (grin) stuff that matters.

     
  • At 2:16 PM, Blogger Brian Dunbar said…

    Sorry - you answered my question about how the energy gets from a reactor at counterweight to here. I'm not sure it's economical, however.

     
  • At 12:59 PM, Blogger Jason Green said…

    Brian,
    I'm not sure where I got the 1/2 mile thing. Seems like I read that somewhere but no I realize how ridiculous that is.

    If the fuel cells are not ecomonical I wonder if the power-beaming system that howstuffworks.com talks about would work. I really have no idea, but the space elevator thing really is exciting.

     
  • At 6:41 PM, Blogger Brian Dunbar said…

    space elevator thing really is exciting.

    For reasons that I don't fully understand the space elevator idea seems to strike a chord with people.

    I feel it very deeply, or I wouldn't be _doing_ this - but I'm hardly ane exempler of introspection.

    We get letters - not tons of them but a steady trickle;

    "Thanks"

    "Keep it up, you've given me new hope"

    And so on. What's the deal? We're not the first guys to propose an odd and possibly unworkable launch system.

    Is there something innate to a primate's hindbrain that likes the idea of a really tall rope to scale? That we're approachable and cuddly? Is it because we're trying to make business carry the idea and not the reverse?

     

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