Physicist Michio Kaku, the originator of Sci-Fi Science on the Discovery Channel, recently got together with The Daily and explained the latest advances that may finally make the Space Elevator a real possibility.
Like space stations and airlocks, this is another space technology originally proposed by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky back in 1895, long before most of his contemporaries consider space as someplace you would go. Along with Germany’s Hermann Oberth and America’s Robert H. Goddard, Russia’s Tsiolkovsky completed the trio who invented rocketry and astronautics, paving the way for today’s modern space programs from around the world.
With the development of Buckey Tubes (Named after Buckminster Fuller who designed the geodesic structure they use, they also named Fullerines aka Buckey Balls after him), or carbon nanotubes as they are also known, we finally have a material both light enough and strong enough to build the elevators. At the moment we can only build Buckey Tubes in small batches, so they are used for things like Biochip interfaces, Nano Radio control systems and other microscopic to nanoscopic scale projects. But now that we have been building them for such applications for the last decade or so, we are beginning to ramp up he production batch sizes, so the space elevator may be able to begin serious construction in another decade or 3. Thanks to the Science News Blog for the heads up on this one.