A Short trip to the Space Elevator

The idea of a low cost space elevator from the earth to near space is currently being seriously studied by many respected scientific organizations, including NASA. A facility positioned near the earth’s equator would serve as the anchor for a cable tether. Current theory holds that it would be relatively easy to utilize rocket thrusters to position an asteroid in a geo-synchronous orbit, creating an ideal attachment point in space.

Interestingly, the idea is not a new one. In 1895, the Russian visionary scientist Konstantin Tsiolvsky outlined a system whereby a “celestial castle” would be linked to an earthbound tower by the use of a “spindle shaped” cable. Sixty-five years later, the Russian Yuri Artsutanov elaborated on this concept. In 1978, Arthur C. Clarke popularized the idea in his novel “Fountains of Paradise”, wherein an elevator system was based on the top of a mountain, and used the same nanofiber cable technology under study today.

After a 1999 workshop, the director of NASA’s Marshall's Advanced Projects Office indicated that "This is no longer science fiction. We came out of the workshop saying, 'We may very well be able to do this.'" The Otis Elevator Co., in October 2000 stated that is has much of the technology in use or in development to contribute towards building a space elevator and that it may be more fact than fantasy. Opinions are varied as to when all of the technology will be available to make the project a reality, but it is generally believed that the ability will be realized within the next few decades.