Space Elevator Test Run

“Although the day started with difficulties, it ended with a successful 1000 foot space elevator test climb to a tethered 10-foot diameter balloon – LiftPort’s first really significant climb. This was supposed to be a 1 mile climb test, but the FAA-required aviation orange paint – applied at 50 foot intervals to the ribbon – contained acetone, which weakened the ribbon. The first two attempts of the day resulted in ribbon breaks due to this acetone-induced degradation. (Lesson here: test what you will use!)

With the ribbon in a weakened state, three (or even two) balloons created more lift than the ribbon could handle without breaking. Therefore, only a single balloon was used for a 1000′ target altitude. We made the run back into town – about 12 miles away – and bought all the string we could find so we’d have enough for a safety line to a balloon at 1000′.”

A Space Elevator, or more specifically the LiftPort Space Elevator, will consist of a ribbon made of a very strong and very light material, carbon nanotubes, anchored to the Earth’s surface at the LiftPort Station with the other end reaching into space. By making the ribbon long enough, and attaching a small satellite as counterweight, the Earth’s rotation will provide enough centrifugal effect to overcome the pull of gravity and keep the ribbon taut. The LiftPort Space Elevator will then provide a permanent bridge between earth and space. Elevator cars will be robotic “lifters” which will climb the ribbon to deliver cargo and eventually people to orbit or beyond.


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