Liftport Closer To Space Elevator Goal

Liftport Group has moved one step closer to making a working space elevator this past week. They announced that a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will allow them to use airspace to conduct preliminary tests of a high altitude robotic lifter.


(Prototype lifter - front view)

The tests are planned for early this fall. The intent is to simulate a working space elevator by launching a model elevator ribbon attached to moored balloon initially up to a mile high. The robotic lifters will be tested for their ability to climb up and down the free-hanging ribbon. This would be the first-ever test of this technology with an eye to the eventual development of a working space elevator.


(Prototype robotic lifter - demonstration model)

The earliest and most famous of the science fiction treatments of the space elevator is found in Arthur C. Clarke's 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise. In the novel, he also writes about a "spider" that is used for testing the ribbon of cable that extends all the way up to orbit:

The flimsy spider - a prototype test vehicle that looked like a motorized bo'sun's chair - had already made a dozen ascents to twenty kilometers, with twice the load it would be carrying now.
(Read more about the space elevator spider)

The Liftport group is serious about building a working space elevator by 2018. Recent developments in carbon nanotube ribbons (see Carbon Nanotube Ribbon For Space Elevator) have greatly increased speculation that a space elevator might be possible.

Read more at Space Elevator Gets FAA Lift and the Liftport Group.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/18/2005)

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