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Is the Space Elevator Too Slow?

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  • Vern McGeorge
    ... I m amazed by how many people get hung up on the travel time to orbit. As Monte Davis wrote - The initial elevator will be for cargo -and - humans make up
    Message 1 of 40 , Oct 3, 2007
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      >--- In space-elevator@yahoogroups.com, "Andreas" <awnd329@...> wrote:
      >
      > > I am not comfortable with... long travel times, and serious
      > > radiation problems. The latter two apply especially to human transport

      I'm amazed by how many people get hung up on the travel time to
      orbit. As Monte Davis wrote - The initial elevator will be for cargo
      -and - humans make up a tiny fraction of what we need.

      If we can build a space elevator we will have a system that can scale
      up over time exponentially. Moore's Law can work for us - in fact it
      must. Many of the schemes proposed for maintaining the ribbon will
      force us to lift new ribbon material on a regular basis to replace
      and/or augment the existing ribbon. If we ever stop growing it we
      risk losing it.

      So I take it as a given that 20 ton cargo lifters will in time give
      way to multi-100 ton people lifters with all the shielding and other
      life support we need.

      Given that, will people tolerate the long trip?

      Allow me to make a third observation - A great many of us in the
      western hemisphere have ancestors who crossed the Atlantic on leaky
      wooden boats eating moldy bread and maggoty meat.The trip often took
      months. People often died. Ships often sank.

      Somehow 7.5 days to GEO or ~20 days to Mars insertion orbit while
      living in air-conditioned comfort with the entire Internet at my
      disposal does not seem a hardship.

      Without the elevator, the trip to Mars takes about 9 months. With the
      elevator, it will take no more than 9 months and 20 days and may even
      take less because you get extra delta-V by going out to the end of
      the tether before you let go. You get a flatter and faster transfer
      orbit at the cost of having to shed some extra speed at the far end.

      If we can build it, mankind will be all over the solar system in a
      century or two.


      Vern McGeorge
      se@...

      "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events,
      small minds discuss people."
      - Vice Adm. H.G. Rickover

      "The regret on our side is, they used to say years ago, we
      are reading about you in science class.
      Now they say, we are reading about you in history class."
      - Neil Armstrong - July 20, 1999

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Andreas
      ... transport ... Just to set the record straight, I did not write the above excerpt and mostly agree with Vern. ... Right. These people must have been quite
      Message 40 of 40 , Oct 4, 2007
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        --- In space-elevator@yahoogroups.com, Vern McGeorge <se@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > >--- In space-elevator@yahoogroups.com, "Andreas" <awnd329@> wrote:
        > >
        > > > I am not comfortable with... long travel times, and serious
        > > > radiation problems. The latter two apply especially to human
        transport
        >
        Just to set the record straight, I did not write the above excerpt and
        mostly agree with Vern.

        > Allow me to make a third observation - A great many of us in the
        > western hemisphere have ancestors who crossed the Atlantic on leaky
        > wooden boats eating moldy bread and maggoty meat.The trip often took
        > months. People often died. Ships often sank.
        >
        Right. These people must have been quite driven. One thing is sure:
        they did not leave a life of air-conditioned comfort behind. More
        likely a murderous mob.

        If we never make it into space, it will not be because of a lack of
        transportation, or cost. It will be because nobody really wants to go.
        As the line says ("Rocket Man", was it?): "Mars ain't the place to
        raise your kids". We have made ourselves all too comfortable on this
        pretty planet of ours. Those of us who can afford it move to the
        suburb with the good schools, and Mars isn't it.


        I have recently convinced myself that space will first be colonized by
        robots to build a largely autonomous space industry for us, based
        entirely on extraterrestrial resources. Once that is up and running,
        some of us will visit (in air-conditioned comfort, of course, and on
        fast rockets), some perhaps even stay. Because of the inherent high
        degree of automation, everything in space will be cheap and plentiful,
        and Earth-to-orbit transportation will be needed only for people.
        Preferably fast, because who has time to waste. We will do quite well
        without the SE.

        Andreas
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