How are we going to send it into space?
A good plan would be to deploy parts into low Earth orbit via spacecraft. Astronauts will assemble the parts in low Earth orbit and the entire structure will be sent into geosynchronous orbit. It would be simpler and less risky than trying to build the whole elevator in space. There are still many factors to consider. It’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible.
Scope and Applications of Space Elevators
The space elevator will be able to:
● Place heavy and fragile payloads in any earth orbit (with a circular rocket) or send them to other planets
● Deliver payloads with minimal vibration
● Bring down heavy and fragile payloads from space
● Deliver payloads into space at a small fraction of current costs
● Send a payload into space or receive a payload from space every few days
● Be used to quickly produce additional cables or increase own capacity
With these capabilities, we can expect the following developments soon after the creation of a space elevator:
Cheap delivery of satellites into space with a reduction of more than 50% in delivery costs, depending on the orbit and the satellite. This allows easier and cheaper access to space.
Repair of faulty spaceships instead of replacing them entirely. This would reduce waste and save valuable time and resources, especially for telecommunications companies.
Large-scale manufacturing in microgravity. Space has little or no gravity, so materials can be made to a higher quality. This includes computer chips and medical equipment. In short, high purity and perfect metal structures.
Inexpensive global satellite systems. Television and telephone systems would become much easier and cheaper to set up.
Sensitive global monitoring of the Earth and the environment. With larger and more powerful satellites, monitoring of the Earth and the environment would be more effective. We can truly understand, on a deeper level, the effects that humans have on the environment. It would also help monitor potential threats to humanity.
Large solar collectors in orbit. If large solar panels are installed, electricity can be harnessed and supplied to people anywhere in the world, including in rural areas, at low cost.
Several large and inexpensive spacecraft for solar system exploration. Sending spacecraft into space, even for small observation missions, is currently very expensive. Instead, we could have cheaper, larger spacecraft performing long-term planetary studies with more valuable scientific instruments on board to fully understand our solar system.
Large orbital observatories and interferometers. Observatories and interferometers would be many times the size and power of Hubble or any terrestrial radio telescope. These could search, locate and image cosmic bodies better than ever before.
A manned space station in geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) for research, satellite repair, commercial manufacturing operations, and preparation facilities for deep space and solar system exploration. It would be a giant leap in humanity’s occupation of space and it would come soon after the first elevator was built. Space exploration would become a booming industry and also provide many jobs. A large station could be placed in orbit and manned by a permanent crew (not just professional astronauts) for valuable research.
Exploration and colonization of Mars. Large-scale research can be carried out by sending several exploratory vehicles to better study the planet Mars and for potential large-scale habitation with an affordable budget.
Removal of human-made space debris in Earth orbit. Space debris can damage satellites and potentially kill astronauts on the International Space Station or any space mission. Current efforts to clean up space debris would be greatly aided and become much easier with the construction of a space elevator.
Future asteroid mining for rare metals. Asteroids contain rare metals, but are extremely expensive to mine, making the net benefit negligible. It would become much cheaper and easier.
Easier access to space for the general population. This won’t happen soon after space elevator operations begin, but with the cost of space travel reduced, even the general population can afford the trip.
Formation of a galactic port in the future would be closer than ever with a space elevator, but it will take some time. It will take a systematic distribution of space elevators to perform missions and transports. There will be massive commercial development in the GEO region, such as assembly of spacecraft, refueling of operational satellites, solar energy harvesting, and travel to interplanetary destinations.
Lunar space elevator. The easiest step would be to build a Lunar Space Elevator first. Low gravity on the Moon would greatly reduce costs and allow humans to utilize the resources available on the Moon. A lunar space elevator using existing high-strength composites with a lifting capacity of 2,000 N at the base equipped with solar capsules moving at 100 km/h could lift 584,000 kg/year of lunar material into high Earth orbit. Since launch costs could then be around $1,000 per kg, this material would be worth more than half a billion dollars per year, resulting in significantly reduced costs and opening a new chapter in space development. .
In combination with a space elevator on Earth, it would be the highway between Moon and Earth orbit and to transport supplies from Earth orbit to a lunar base. This will make the spacecraft leaving Earth lighter.
This article was published as part of Swasti 22, the Swarajya Science and Technology Initiative 2022. Read other Swasti 22 submissions.
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