How a Space Elevator Might Work

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    16 Responses to How a Space Elevator Might Work

    1. Lasers are expensive. Maybe I’m missing something, but why not use sunlight to power the damn thing? The advantage of ‘lifting’ at night (or, “night”) don’t outweigh the disadvantage of “high powered laser beamzss!!!”

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    2. Now if we can just get those pesky Carbon nano tubes worked out.

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    3. wow, and that’s some horrible English I used there.

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    4. @ieattime20

      The lasers will transmit far more energy to the elevator car than direct solar. Solar cells are at best 40.7 percent effective. In addition, the lasers are controllable and predictable; Direct solar is not always available in the lower atmosphere. The car itself will most likely not have enough battery capacity to lift its own weight with out the massive energy transfer from below. Aside, the cost of the carbon nanotube “shaft” will greatly out weigh the laser cost.

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    5. Seriously. This makes no sense. Lasers? Sunlight? That’s preposterous. I don’t understand why we can’t just run a steel cable out to the moon… ?

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    6. @Phyreblade: *snap*. There’s your answer.

      @Elepski: Not questioning your numbers, just your units. What’s that 40.7%? Is that power transfer efficiency? Yeah, I can see where lasers would be more efficient, but

      I would think mostly-conventional means could get it above cloud level, either via batteries or jets. The reason I find sunlight preferable is because lasers just take so much god damn energy to be useful, that we have to produce or condense from sunlight. Whereas sunlight with some good foldable sails can produce a great deal of energy at literally no effort on our part. Maybe I’m wrong.

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    7. @ieattime20

      The 40.7 is the energy conversion rate.

      Some of the methods you mention could work I guess… but I am only going on the work of the scientists who developed it(who know far more about it than I. I will say, however.. batteries currently have the potential to have a negative energy density to weight ratio. Basically the amount of batteries needed to lift it (even to the cloud ceiling) would weight it down too much. As far as the jets… that would require massive amounts of energy too.. in the form of fuel; Fuel that has weight.

      With the laser… the mass of the car never changes during the accent.

      That just my view on it.. I could be wrong.

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    8. @Elepski: If only more people on teh intarwebs were humble enough to end their discussion with “I could be wrong”.

      Interesting note on the batteries, I was not completely aware of that. I guess the nanotubes are the first question, but I still wonder if fuel, even with its additional weight, isn’t a more efficient method than expensive lasers. I also would have to ask my rocket scientist friend (I went to GA Tech, conveniently I have one of those) at what point the outward force that counerweights will also outgrow the force of gravity on the lift going up and thus not need propulsion anymore. Sort of like beads on a string sliding up and out as the string is swung around, but with the additional complication that my hand is a very poor gravity generator.

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    9. @ieattime20:

      Just remember it also has to make a controlled decent against that centrifugal force too.

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    10. I agree with wookie_x, a space fountain is a much better idea that we could start building today without having to invent any magic cable material first.
      Besides the magic cable, the space elevator just has so many problems. There’s the problem of powering the climber, as discussed. How are you going to get a mechanical climber to travel 22,000 miles with out breaking down? How are you going to get humans through the radiation belts?

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    11. Has anyone seen the prototypes?

      They put a load of cash into this, so that 3 guys could sit in a shed, take the motor off a tie rack and a sliding door, cobble them together, and attach a solar panel.

      I could have made a better fuckin’ space elevator, and these guys work for NASA.

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    12. Even if that works, how do the people get back down and what happens to the people-capsule?

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    13. once in space, wheight is no more an issue!!

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    14. @ColombianMonkey: If we’re heading into a geosynchronous orbit, most of the way there is still pretty much Earth’s gravity on the surface.

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