An elevator from Earth to space may look something like this.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Elevator to Space!
News story originally written on October 15, 2000
Next year, Americans will watch ordinary people compete for a chance to go into space.
The lucky winner will stay aboard the Space Station Mir. But what if you and
your family could visit space anytime you wanted? Scientists are hoping to make this dream a reality.
In the 1970's a physicist named Jerome Pearson imagined an elevator that
a person could take to space. At that time, it was tough to find any support, but NASA
is now working on this so-called impossible dream. You may take a vacation to space, in 50 years or so.
Scientists admit it may take a life time before this elevator is actually built.
But for the first time, NASA outlined a concept for the elevator. A strong, extremely long cable
will stretch from Earth to geosynchronous orbit. At this distance from space, an object will
orbit the Earth at the exact same speed as the Earth revolves. In other words, the object will stay
at the same spot above Earth.
With a large asteroid tied to the other end, this cable will be the connection for
an elevator to reach the skies. The problem is, we have yet to discover a substance strong
enough for the cable. Oh - and the twenty mile high tower on Earth is a problem as well. Even still,
it can't help to dream!
“The idea is to work on intermediate concepts and then
in 50 years we’ll hopefully start working on building this
thing,” says David Smitherman, a scientist working in the
Advanced Projects office of NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Alabama.
Well, it's a start, at least.
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