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Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Do you think the proposed "Space Elevator" project is feasible ?

Asked by Pretty_Lilly (4655points) April 21st, 2010

Scientists have proposed a Space Elevator!
Yeah, just like the ones they have at construction sites for equipment.
Do you see it as something possible or just a Sci-Fi fantasy!

*I can almost see it now: Shortly after completion,they would lower down to earth the steel cable and the whole thing would come crashing down !

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18 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

Definitely, as long as they have a super-strong material out of which to build it. Perhaps composites?

JeffVader's avatar

I think they can do it….. I just hope the door at the top doesn’t get stuck open & we lose all our oxygen.

evan742's avatar

I really dont think its possible, They may be smart but not that smart. Not to mention they would relize the fact the if something went wrong with some one in it then they cant fly the space shuttle up there and fix it.

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

@evan742 Actually for repairs & rescues,they would use the escalator !

earthduzt's avatar

watch this this its all about science fiction vs science fact and it does mention the space elevator in there among other interesting theories and possibilities

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

@earthduzt In reality it would take 20 years to complete,cost a 10 Trillion dollars and they would end up using it as a tourist attraction ! Sending up,fat-ass tourist with their fanny packs for $200 a pop !

semblance's avatar

Not possible under current technology because no known material is possibly strong enough.

Furthermore, it is too dangerous to try. Read the book “Red Mars”, which, although science fiction, makes a pretty good stab at showing how it would work and what would go wrong if it were ever sabotaged. Cinching the planet’s waist with a super strong cable would do a lot of damage.

earthduzt's avatar

But it is not impossible, Im sure back in the 1800s people though “oh going to space in a rocket ship? Never gonna happen” not saying anything like that will happen tomorrow, but give it 50 years 100 years Ill be we will do stuff we thought impossible today but the norm for tomorrow.

ragingloli's avatar

Oh yes there is a material that is strong enough: Carbon Nanotubes. We have already succeeded in producing small quantities of them. The only remaining problem in terms of material is the engineering required to produce it in large quantities in a reasonable amount of time and at an acceptable cost.
The same with antimatter, which would be the ultimate in fuel. We have produced antimatter in small quantitities. The problem is that we do not know how to mass produce it.
People, including scientists once said that no rocket could ever fly into space because the required fuel would make the rocket so heavy that it could not lift off.
And then we invented multi staged rockets and now our orbits are littered with satellites and various types of junk.

rebbel's avatar

Imagine the annoyance when you are stuck with that *$@!^$ of a neighbour of yours for 7 hours…
Here is a nice clip of how it could be like.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I wouldn’t like to be in it. I can only take elevator music in small doses.

semblance's avatar

@ragingloli I am familiar with carbon nanotubes but it is still only a theoretical technical solution because, as you admit, it has not been produced on the scale required, nobody really knows how to do that, nor has the substance ever been tested on a massive scale to see if it would actually be up to the task. Material performance for a space elevator would require using a substance that is virtually indestructible and would last forever. The consequences of failure of the cable are catastrophic. Virtually nothing ever made has been engineered to last forever.

Although science has pushed human capability beyond the expectations of many, there is no reasoon to think it can solve all technical problems. That kind of soft headed thinking has created more problems than it has solved, witness the problem with nuclear waste, which is no closer to a solution now than it was when I came to adulthood, almost 40 years ago. Back then people like you were predicting that by the turn of the century we would have fusion reactors that would gobble up all that dirty spent nuclear fuel so, “Why worry? Let’s go ahead with nuclear reactors.” Functional fusion reactors – I’m not talking about lab experiments – are still only discussed on a theoretical level and the world now has more spent fuel than ever for future generations to worry about.

So, in my view, at this time the space elevator is still relegated to the realm of science fiction, only a short step closer to reality than concepts like faster than light space drive and time travel.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, when we are ready. Economy of scale will bring down the prices of super-strong materials such as carbon nanotubes. Then it won’t cost trillions of dollars. This could happen in 2060 or later.

More than 600 years ago some visionary suggested flying machines. He might have asked people ‘Do you think flying machines are feasible?’ Most would have answered no, or pointed out it would be too expensive.

Timing is everything. Right now we are not ready for the space elevator but we should continue playing with the idea.

CaptainHarley's avatar

When it was predicted that trains would go 60 miles per hour, several scientists suggested that humans would be unable to withstand such high rates of speed.

Ron_C's avatar

I think it would be a really bad idea. Just imagine a 60 mile rope sweeping a path across the earth. There are just too many ways to screw up. What we really need is a simple efficient rail gun system to put freight into orbit for transport to other planets. Runs on electricity, no pollution, renewable energy. It may even become a way to send radioactive waste into the sun for disposal.

ro_in_motion's avatar

One thing most people don’t realise about space needles is the enormous surface area it presents: The cable would be about 36,000 km long. Even if the cable were only 1m in diameter, the total surface area would be 36,000 x .001 = 36 square miles. It would make for almost guaranteed collisions.

There have also been studies about what would happen when a cable snapped. It would yield an incredibly long, supersonic whip that wraps around the earth.

It’s a really cool idea but we have a long way to go before our safety concerns could be met.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Carbon Nanotubes.


SmartAZ's avatar

The space elevator is an idea very popular among people who don’t understand space travel. You do not need altitude to get into space, you need orbital velocity. Delta V is the coin of the realm, not altitude. If you raise something to orbital altitude, you have to accelerate it to orbital velocity, and that takes the same amount of fuel no matter how you do it.

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