Nanomaterials on Earth and Beyond Series
A Russian scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, first proposed the space elevator in early 1895. It is essentially a long cable extending from earth’s surface into space with its center of mass at geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), 35,786 km in altitude. The cable will have electromagnetic vehicles traveling along it, which would act as a mass transportation system for moving people, payloads, and power between Earth and space. The cable would be tethered to the top of a base tower approximately 50 km tall and the other end attached to a large counterbalance mass beyond geostationary orbit, perhaps an asteroid moved into place for that purpose (42). -article continued below illustration-
For space elevator to be a reality, there is a need for very strong materials that don’t collapse on there own weight. CNTs are sought out as the material for building these space elevators. According to Ben Shelef co-founder of the Spaceward Foundation (43), the hindrance for achieving this space elevator technology is the unavailability of a macroscopic thread that takes full advantage of CNTs incredible strength. Beyond tethering technology, all other challenges are relatively simple. In addition to university research in this topic, NASA has sponsored a $4M Space elevator competition.
Thus with nanotechnology, space flights and space colonization will not be merely science fiction but a reality.