The idea of a space elevator, or as Arthur C. Clarke preferred to call it, an orbital tower, has been in the popular culture since the 1980’s. In the last dozen years, there have been at least twelve space elevator competitions around the world. The roadblock to building an elevator is lack of lightweight, high tensile strength materials. The tether needs to be perhaps 100,000 kilometers long! The top candidate material is carbon nanotubes, and so far the manufacturing process doesn’t exist.
This evening I enjoyed watching the documentary, SKY LINE, which came out in 2015 and is now available on Netflix. It covers the story of a small band of researchers, engineers and business people who are working to make space elevators a reality. The documentary isn’t of the highest production value. However, it leaves you dreaming about the impact space elevators will have on our world and encouraged that someday we will have the technology to build one. At the outset, the concept of a space elevator tens of thousands kilometers long seems impossible, fortunately not everyone thinks impossible means forever.