June 30, 2004

Space Elevator Progress Note

Space elevators have been a recurring feature on this blog because it's the sort of disruptive technology that can upset an awful lot of pessimistic predictions about the future. If you can knock two zeroes off the cost of lifting a pound into orbit, many things change, from realistic energy from orbit to space manufacturing, to military implications, cheap, safe access to space changes an awful lot. This isn't even counting the inevitable spinoffs of large scale carbon nanotube production at the strength levels necessary to make the cable and beamed power systems to energize the lifters.

The Liftport Group has long listed April 12, 2018 as their target launch date for a space elevator but now Dr. Bradley Edwards is predicting that it will only be two years to develop carbon nanotube fiber strong enough for the elevator ribbon. That's a real milestone to watch. If the ribbon appears in that time frame, I'd say that it's time to stop scoffing at the possibility and time to start thinking through the consequences of this disruptive technology because it's going to happen.

Posted by TMLutas at June 30, 2004 10:06 PM