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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Space Elevator in 15 years?

New York Times:

President Bush wants to return to the moon and put a man on Mars. But scientist Bradley C. Edwards has an idea that's really out of this world: an elevator that climbs 62,000 miles into space. Edwards thinks an initial version could be operating in 15 years, a year earlier than Bush's 2020 timetable for a return to the moon. He pegs the cost at $10 billion, a pittance compared with other space endeavors. ``It's not new physics -- nothing new has to be discovered, nothing new has to be invented from scratch,'' he says. ``If there are delays in budget or delays in whatever, it could stretch, but 15 years is a realistic estimate for when we could have one up.'' Edwards is not just some guy with an idea. He's head of the space elevator project at the Institute for Scientific Research in Fairmont, W.Va. NASA already has given it more than $500,000 to study the idea, and Congress has earmarked $2.5 million more.
I've been following this idea for a while now, and though I am certainly not an expert on this sort of thing it looks feasible to me. Here is the Institute for Scientific Research site with lots of data and facs on the project. A Space elevator would vastly simplify human exploration of the solar system. It would also open the door to a variety of commercial enterprises in space.


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