Space Elevator Quick Facts
  • The Space Elevator is a thin ribbon, with a cross-section area roughly half that of a pencil, extending from a ship-borne anchor to a counterweight well beyond geo-synchronous orbit.
  • The ribbon is kept taut due to the rotation of the earth (and that of the counterweight around the earth). At its bottom, it pulls up on the anchor with a force of about 20 tons.
  • Electric vehicles, called climbers, ascend the ribbon using electricity generated by solar panels and a ground based booster light beam.
  • In addition to lifting payloads from earth to orbit, the elevator can also release them directly into lunar-injection or earth-escape trajectories.
  • The baseline system weighs about 1500 tons (including counterweight) and can carry up to 15 ton payloads, easily one per day.
  • The ribbon is 62,000 miles long, about 3 feet wide, and is thinner than a sheet of paper. It is made out of a carbon nanotube composite material.
  • The climbers travel at a steady 200 kilometers per hour (120 MPH), do not undergo accelerations and vibrations, can carry large and fragile payloads, and have no propellant stored onboard.
  • Orbital debris are avoided by moving the anchor ship, and the ribbon itself is made resilient to local space debris damage.
  • The space elevator can be made larger by using itself to carry more ribbon pieces into place. There is no limit on how large a Space Elevator can be!

© The Spaceward Foundation 2008 - - Mountain View, CA