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Saratoga (California), US f.e.

How high can we build? The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) has set up a project aimed at answering this question. Researchers from around the world are currently developing theoretical concepts aimed at developing an inexpensive and environmentally friendly path to space that would act as an alternative to rockets. Participants in the challenge are usually students. On the one hand, the project provides a (playful) incentive to learn, but it also contributes towards advancing research on this subject.

ISEC’s current concept involves a cable extending from the surface of the planet into geostationary orbit. In order to ensure that the cable would remain tight despite gravitational and rotational forces, the space elevator’s centre of mass would have to be kept in this orbit. A lift would then be fixed onto the cable that would convey a payload to a space station or satellite. Power would be supplied by ‘power beaming’ (similar to a laser) and solar cells would also be used. The teams participate by designing ‘space elevators’ that would move along this cable.

Regular challenges take place around the world with different height requirements so as to provide challenging, yet manageable tasks for (young) researchers. The European Space Elevator Challenge at Munich Technical University, has, for example, set up an entry-level competition over a shorter distance to ensure that school pupils can also participate.

 

 

 

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