Space Elevator: A ride of a lifetime : Science Fiction or Reality?
There is something in space that stirs us. If you thought Lunar mining for helium-3 was an audacious technological idea, then wait until you hear about Space Elevator.
Space Elevator is essentially a giant cable tethered to the Earth with its center mass at Geostationary Earth Orbit. It’s recreating Jack-in-the-Beanstalk and ends into outer space colony.
How does it work? Electromagnetic vehicles which travel along the cable serve as a mass transportation for payloads, people and power between Earth and Space. Five hours is all it takes for Space Elevator to travel from Earth to Lunar Platform before reaching New Frontier Space colony!! You can feel a hint of this transcendent when stargazing. So whether you are a skeptic or not, you’ve got to be overwhelmed with awe.
Does this sound like the Sci-Fi Channel or a chapter out of Arthur C. Clarke’s, Fountains of Paradise? Well, it’s not.
To understand the concept of Space Elevator you don’t need a PH.D.in Physics or a 10th grade education. Let’s understand it better – Creating a space elevator would need something which is strong, flexible and light – our planet has plenty of those materials.. A major risk of Space Elevator would be radical cable movement and the potential for whipping action and vibrations due to gravitational tugs from the Moon and Sun, along with pressure from gusts of solar wind. Climbers would create too much wobble which could cause the space elevator to oscillate like a giant pendulum. And then there’s the issue of space debris. The movie ‘Gravity’ clearly demonstrates what can happen when space debris collide with objects in Geo-synchronous orbit. Which brings us back to the extreme science fiction nature of the space elevator that’s perhaps why it resonates so much with so many people, not just space geeks.
While the space elevator is still a long way from concept to reality, we’re getting closer. NASA has been working on this concept since 2000. Europe, Japan and Russia are also working on the concept of space elevator. The whole idea of the space elevator dates back to 1895, when a Russian scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, was so excited by the recent construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1889 that he dreamed up what many now credit as the classic conception of the space elevator ….. a super-tall tower that would be tethered to a “celestial castle” by way of a spindle-shaped cable.Though it’s decade away from being a reality, it’s definitely going to be a science fiction concept which might become a science fact where a half-baked technological concept could actually take us to space in no time.