Guest Column: Going Up
BY KEITH TUCKER
Special to The Enterprise
Have you ever taken a string and tied a weight to the end and swung it around in a circle? It’s a pretty neat feeling when the faster you swing, the more string you can let out. Well, there is a concept of a space elevator tied to the ground at equator and stretched out into space, out to 35,000 meters with a weight on the end. That’s about 20 miles for those metrically-challenged. If you figure that the fixed point on earth is traveling at 1,100 miles per hour from the rotation of the Earth. I would have to break out my physics book to calculate the speed at the other end.
So, an elevator slides up and down the cord to take things into orbit and back again. This concept has been around awhile but so far, the material has yet to be invented that has a sufficient weight-to-strength ratio to stretch that far and not break.
Carbon-fiber, nanotube technology is promising, and China and Russia have been working hard to make this work. It seems that because the moon is smaller and therefore, has less gravity, the first attempt to make this work will take place there. If this does ever get done on Earth, it would drastically change the cost of putting things into orbit.
If it works, there would be hundreds around the globe. Can you imagine the tv commercials? Come ride the space elevator and spend a weekend in orbit for $49.99. Come visit the Space Hilton. Of course, if we do invent such a material, you can rest assured that certain foreign governments will make every effort to get their hands on the technology.
China might just buy the company as they have found sometimes it’s easier to buy what they want than steal it. Who’s signing up for a weekend with a view? I just hope I live long enough to see some of the fantastic technology that is coming our way.
Editor’s note: Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop.