Alpine Summit

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lofty Goals

This company, LiftPort Group, Inc., is experimenting with a space elevator. This concept has been around for a number of years now. Where one would have to expend lots of energy getting a tiny space shuttle or payload rocket into orbit to put things in space, a space elevator would (theoretically) allow for a sort of "conveyer belt" to space where we can cheaply put material into space to build "space only" devices like deep-space vehicles large enough to support life for extended periods of time in space.

Den Beste wrote up a great criticism of this technology and I think he's right in that this idea seems plausible but will ultimately fail because of physics. Den Beste's argument is that the anchor point in space will either come crashing down to earth, or "wrap around" the earth as its rotation moves faster than the orbit of the anchor. As much as I would like to see a technology that put us into space cheaply, I'm afraid this isn't going to be it.