This is a reproduction of an important report from a NASA workshop on space elevators. Compiled by D.V. Smitherman, Jr. of the Marshall Space Flight Center, “Space Elevators: An Advanced Earth-Space Infrastructure for the New Millennium” is based on the findings from the Advanced Space Infrastructure Workshop on Geostationary Orbiting Tether “Space Elevator” Concepts.A space elevator is a physical connection from the surface of the Earth to a geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) above the Earth 35,786 km in altitude. Its center of mass is at the geostationary point such that it has a 24-hr orbit and stays over the same point above the equator as the Earth rotates on its axis. The vision is that a space elevator would be utilized as a transportation and utility system for moving people, payloads, power, and gases between the surface of the Earth and space. It makes the physical connection from Earth to space in the same way a bridge connects two cities across a body of water. The Earth to GEO space elevator is not feasible today, but could be an important concept for the future development of space in the latter part of the 21st century. It has the potential to provide mass transportation to space in the same way highways, railroads, power lines, and pipelines provide mass transportation across the Earth's surface. The low energy requirements for moving payloads up and down the elevator could make it possible to achieve cost to orbit <$10/kg. This potential for low-cost mass transportation to space makes consideration of the technology paths required for space elevator construction very important today. The technology paths are beneficial to many other developments and can yield incremental benefits as progress is made toward making space elevator construction feasible. The space elevator concept has been brought out of the realm of science fiction and into the realm of possibility. It was found that the space elevator concept is incredibly large and complex, but no issues were without some obvious course of resolution. Given proper planning for the development of critical technologies, it appears that space elevator construction could become feasible.Contents include:Introduction: What is a Space Elevator?* Key Findings From the Workshop * Future Directions* Technology Demonstrations* SPACE ELEVATOR CONCEPTS * Brief History* A Space Elevator Concept * Space Elevator Basics* TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT PATHS* Materials* Tension Structures* Compression Structures* Electromagnetic Propulsion* Supporting Infrastructure* Environmental Issues* Safety Issues* CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS* Pros for Building Space Elevators* Cons Against Building Space Elevators* Concerns and Possible Solutions* Recommendations* APPENDIX A—WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS AND CONTRIBUTORS* Workshop Participants* Additional Contributors and Virtual Research Center Participants* REFERENCES* BIBLIOGRAPHYWorld Spaceflight News has covered spaceflight and the Space Shuttle program since 1983. At WSN, our mission is simple: provide space enthusiasts and professionals around the globe with unique technical information and historical material about spaceflight. We hope that a better appreciation of the complexities and challenges posed by space exploration will foster increased support for man's continued voyage into space. Our love of spaceflight drives our publishing efforts, and we've been gratified over the years that readers from Austria to Australia have found great value in our work. We try to satisfy a wide range of interests by producing a broad selection of high-quality products with exclusive material not found elsewhere.
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