Can you imagine riding a ribbon into space like it is an elevator?
“It’s possible if the ribbon is made from carbon nano tubing,” says Michael Laine, president of the LiftPort Group, which is developing a Space Elevator using the technology.
“Carbon nano tubing is an ultra-strong, lightweight material. It is at least 20 times stronger than steel,” he said. “There are some 150 labs across the world working on developing the material. It will change the way things are constructed. Soon people will want to use it to make boats, cars, and airplanes.”
It can also be used, he says, for relatively low-cost space travel. Recently part of the LiftPort team traveled to the Arizona desert to test their so-called elevator into space.
According to Laine, one end of the ribbon is anchored to the Earth and the other is connected to a satellite orbiting above the Earth.
“Physics keep it in space,” he says. “You can move more tonnage for less cost with the ribbon. Now it costs approximately $10,000 per pound to $40,000 per pound to get anything into space. We think we can move that tonnage using the ribbon for around $400 per pound.”
The experiments in the desert used balloons.
“We had great big helium balloons on a single tether and a robot climbing up to a mile in the sky,” he says.