Is a ride into space on the world's longest elevator in store for you?
Currently, the Cambridge team can make about 1 gram of the new carbon material per day, which can stretch to 18 miles in length. Alan Windle, professor of materials science at Cambridge, says that industrial-level production would be required to manufacture NASA's request for 144,000 miles of nanotube. Nevertheless, the web-like nanotube material is promising. . .
"The biggest problem has always been finding a material that is strong enough and lightweight enough to stretch tens of thousands of miles into space," said EuroSpaceward's John Winter. "This isn't going to happen probably for the next decade at least, but in theory this is now possible. The advances in materials for the tether are very exciting."
Hm, the next decade...that would make it about 2018 or 2019, right? That time frame sounds familiar to me somehow. Oh. yes, that's it --
Previously we've written about the Liftport Group, who once projected an April 12, 2018 launch date for their space elevator. For unknown reasons they have pushed their target date back considerably -- it now stands at October 27, 2031. (How they can determine the precise day so far in advance is beyond me.) But maybe that original 2018 date was not so outlandish after all.
As we've suggested before, molecular manufacturing (MM) likely would make construction of a space elevator far easier and much less expensive than currently expected. Even if MM is not achieved until a later date, though, this new method of CNT development seems quite promising for an early gateway to space industrialization and commercialization.
"Next stop, Hilton Earthview Hotel."