A space elevator may seem like an exaggerated concept, but Stephen Cohen, professor of physics at Vanier College in Montreal, said he thinks sci-fi technology could become a reality “in the next twenty or thirty years.”
Cohen describes a space elevator as “a cable that runs from Earth to space, which can easily move people and cargo.” He claims engineers and scientists are breaking ground when it comes to designing these massive structures that could revolutionize the way we access space.
Why would we build a space elevator?
Space elevators can significantly reduce the cost of space travel. Companies like SpinLaunch are already testing groundbreaking technologies that could significantly reduce the cost of sending small satellites and scientific payloads into space, while also having the added benefit of boosting manned spaceflight and space tourism.
“With space elevators, the word ‘space mission’ will be replaced by ‘transit’, as spaceflight will become a routine matter and not weather dependent,” says Cohen. “The space elevator becomes a bridge to the entire solar system. Drop the payload from below and you orbit the Earth, but do it above and you’re out of fuel in the Sun’s orbit.
How will the space elevator work?
Cohen explains that his fascination with space elevators began in 2004 when he was discussing dissertation topics with Professor Arun Misra, a leading space expert in McGill University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Mishra told him about the concept of a space elevator, a 62,130 miles (100,000 km) long cable stretching skyward from Earth’s equator and attached to a satellite in geostationary orbit, meaning it moves in orbit at the same speed as Earth. Earth so flies over a fixed place
The concept will also use mechanical climbers to ascend to different heights above the Earth’s surface. Depending on the altitude at which the capsule or spacecraft will be launched, they will begin to orbit the Earth or the Sun or return to Earth.
Different concepts have offered different types of mechanical climbers for many years. For example, a space elevator concept uses rail conveyors on magnetic suspension to move a huge space cable at very high speeds.
As Cohen points out, the material required for such a cable would have to be 50 times stronger than steel, making space elevators impossible with current technology. Meanwhile, he and “a handful of people around the world claim this problem will be solved, and they are tinkering with other engineering aspects of space elevators.” Source
Source: Port Altele