Elevators to space… Is it possible?

Elevators are one of the most common thing used by us and I hope everybody must have use it. But do you ever think, elevators can used in space transportation also.

Welcome to Engineering Master. In this article, we will explain the future of space transportation i.e., Space elevators.

Space transportation is done by rockets which are really expensive. Huge money is invested to launch one rocket. And almost all parts of rocket are destroyed after its use. But, what will happen if space transportation is done directly, without using a rocket.

This is the concept of space elevator. This idea was first given by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895.

He suggested that a tower can be developed upto geostationary orbit. If we carry satellite to the tower and release them from the top of the tower, then the satellite will set up in orbit without using rocket. A small fraction of energy is required to push them in solar system. The major flaw with this idea is that the weight of tower would be compressing down below. And there is no material available which can handle this compressive force.

Newer ideas suggested about space elevators using cable, which is stretched out beyond geostationary orbit. Here the outward centripetal force counters the force of gravity, keeping it completely balanced. But the tensile strength of thousand kilometer cable still makes problem. Until now, no material was available which is strong enough to overcome this force. But the development of carbon nanotubes makes it more possible.

To build the space elevator, an asteroid is moved to geostationary orbit. This makes the counter balance. Then a cable is manufactured on the asteroid which is lowered down towards earth. As the cable extends down, the asteroid is orbited further, keeping everything in balance. Finally, the cable reaches the Earth surface and attached to the ground station.

There are risks associated with this type of megastructure. If the cable breaks, then some portion of the cable fall on Earth’s surface and cause damage.

It is true that present technology is not sufficient to build space elevators on Earth. Whatever happens in future, but space elevator will open up the exploration of the solar system in way that we can’t even imagine.

15 Replies to “Elevators to space… Is it possible?”

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