Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New age space travel : Space Elevator !

After reading an article in IEEE Spectrum this month, I was impressed by the amount of effort that has gone into this radical new idea, called the Space Elevator. Apparently the idea is VERY feasible in 10-15 years ! Nowadays, it costs about $20,000 to hoist a kilogram of material into space...the idea of the space elevator, if implemented, would apparently reduce it to less than $200 per kilogram, and in the long run to around $10 per kilogram ! That is cheaper than the amount spent in transporting materials over the Pacific !

In the Spectrum article, the authors talk about various problems that will arise if the construction/operation and maintenance were to proceed..the most interesting of all potential "problems" discussed by the authors, was terrorism ! Of course, since the authors suggested the base station on earth to be located on the Galapagos Island in the Pacific, which is hundreds of kilometres from any shipping/aviation routes (and for many other scientific reasons), they state that it will be much easier to arm and defend against a terrorist attack ! Interesting to see that even cutting edge science needs to be aware of such issues.

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