Monday, October 24, 2005

To infinity and... not quite 12 meters

The space elevator project is fascinating. If you haven't heard about this idea, take a look. The basic principle is that if you can get a massive enough object into geosynchronous orbit around the earth, then you can run a cable between that "anchor" and a platform on the earth to transport materials into orbit. Great idea! Of course the physics of gravity and fuel efficiency interrupt the dream to remind us that fuel has a lot of weight and that this big strong cable is going to have a weight to. Scientific American, this month, points out that gravity may really just be an illusion anyway, but don't tell these guys who are competing in a NASA space elevator contest.

So, no one won the contest by achieving the objective of raising a light-powered platform 61 meters.

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