Clarke to Address Los Alamos Space-Elevator Conference
"Curtis Burisch" <curtis@xxxxxxxxxx>
Wed, 10 Sep 2003 12:06:27 +0100
This article is relevant to my recent post to this group, and makes for
It is available on the web at
Clarke To Address Los Alamos Space-Elevator Conference
Los Alamos - Sep 10, 2003
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, world-renowned science fiction author, will address
the Second Annual Space Elevator Conference held Sept. 12-15 in Santa Fe.
The event is co-sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the
Institute for Scientific Research Inc. (ISR).
Clarke, the author of "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Fountains of Paradise" and
many other novels, will open the conference with a live address via
satellite at 8 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 13, from his home in Sri Lanka.
Clarke has included space elevator imagery in several of his novels and has
long been a champion of this revolutionary means of space travel. The
conference will bring together individuals and institutions interested in
solving the scientific and engineering challenges inherent in constructing
the world's first space elevator.
Said conference organizer Bryan E. Laubscher of the Los Alamos Space
Instrumentation and System Engineering Group, "With the discovery of carbon
nanotubes and their remarkable strength properties, the time for the space
elevator is at hand."
"The promise of inexpensive access to space is so important to the human
race that we are ready to meet these challenges head on. Viewed in one way,
the space elevator will be the largest civil engineering project ever
attempted," Laubscher said.
The conference is being held at the Santa Fe Radisson, beginning Sept. 12
with an evening reception and concluding Sept. 15. Media representatives are
welcome to attend. Speakers at the conference will provide a historical
perspective of the space elevator and its promise for future space activity.
Facilitators will outline each area of technical challenge and discussion of
solutions is encouraged through audience participation.
"The team that works out the technological solutions will encompass
government and industry and represent a new level of teamwork not seen since
the days of NASA's Apollo program," said Laubscher.
"It sounds a little far out at first, but with materials science advances
such as nanotubes and other new materials, we are reaching the stage where
this starts to look like real science, a real advance for space transport.
And with the Los Alamos experience in both space and material science, it's
a great opportunity for teamwork."
The space elevator is a revolutionary way of getting from Earth into space,
a ribbon with one end attached to Earth on a floating platform located at
the equator and the other end in space beyond geosynchronous orbit (35,800
The space elevator will potentially ferry satellites, spaceships and pieces
of space stations into space using electric lifts clamped to the ribbon,
serving as a means for commerce, scientific advancement and exploration.
"In direct analogy with the Transcontinental Railroad, in which construction
began as soon as the last routes through the California mountains were
scouted, I hope that the space elevator is begun as soon as the 100,000-km
ribbon can be manufactured," said Laubscher.
"In order to be ready with the required technologies, those scientists and
engineers interested in the space elevator must begin now to identify and
solve the technical challenges involved in constructing and operating a
space elevator. The Second Annual Space-Elevator Conference is being held to
discuss these challenges and their solutions."
NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) granted funds to Dr. Bradley
Edwards, ISR's director of research, to investigate the feasibility of
designing and building a space elevator. Once relegated to the realm of
science fiction, the space elevator is now the subject of scientific
research by ISR. The discovery of carbon nanotubes and the ongoing
development to implement them into a composite is the key to space elevator
viability being achieved in the future.
Researchers estimate that a space elevator capable of lifting 5-ton payloads
every day to low Earth orbits could be operational in 15 years. From this
first orbit, the costs to go on the moon, Mars, Venus, or the asteroids
would be reduced dramatically.
The first space elevator is projected to reduce lift costs immediately to
$100 per pound, as compared to current launch costs of $10,000-$40,000 per
pound, depending upon destination and choice of rocket-launch system.
Additional and larger elevators, built utilizing the first, would allow
large-scale manned and commercial activities in space and reduce lift costs
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