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!