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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more