Elevator man

And suddenly space elevators are back in the news, with a couple of articles getting circulation in anticipation of a conference to be held in Japan in November (someone’s PR dollars are getting results). Not much that’s new here, though I should note that Brian Turner of the Kansas City Space Pirates managed to get on Conan O’Brien, so not bad. The KC Space Pirates, in case you’re wondering, are one of the groups that’s competing for the equivalent of the Space Elevator X prize (actually a series of prizes), so we might here more from them soon.

What I’m still not seeing, though, is anything on LEO elevators. Quick refresher: the holy grail of space elevators is a mega-structure rooted to the equator and extending all the way out past geostationary orbit, whereas THE MIRRORED HEAVENS features a low-orbit elevator, a four thousand kilometer structure that orbits Earth.  What’s the advantage?  Well, a LEO elevator isn’t as tough to build as a GEO elevator, but it’s still pretty useful, since it allows attainment of orbit via suborbital speeds.  More specs are at this NASA paper here, btw (search under “leo space elevator”).  I ripped them off pretty much verbatim for the book, but keep that one to yourself.

And of course none of these great plans and prizes for elevators focus on blowing them up, but I’m sure we’ll get there in due time.  Stay tuned.

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