16 January 2004
16 January 2004
The LiftPort Group of space elevator companies has come out in support of NASA's new blueprint for the space exploration program.
""We're pleased to see the renewed national commitment to the exploration of space,"" said Michael Laine, President of LiftPort, which is dedicated to the development of the first commercial elevator to space. ""With the nation, we believe that the exploration of space has and will continue to greatly benefit the world, both from the advancement of knowledge as well as the development of technology.""
Laine, who co-founded HighLift Systems, the Seattle-based company that completed the Phase II research report for NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) for building a space elevator, continued: ""We see the space elevator as an important infrastructure element for the expansion of commerce and human travel into space and complimentary to the new national vision for the program.""
Under LiftPort's proposal, the first commercial space elevator would stretch 62,000 miles into space, and would act as a ""railroad"" that could transport cargo and ultimately humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The elevator would be constructed from a carbon nanotube composite ribbon anchored to an offshore sea platform and to a small counterweight in space. Robotic ""lifters"" attached to the ribbon would carry cargo ranging from satellites to solar powered panels and eventually humans, reducing launch costs from $10,000 - $20,000 per pound, to approximately $500 per pound.
According to LiftPort, the first commercial space elevator could be operational as early as 2018. Key developmental milestones planned by LiftPort in 2004 include two major tests of the robotic lifters, including one using a high altitude balloon.
A revolutionary means of traveling into space, the space elevator concept has been the subject of research by the scientific community for more than half a century, ranging from HighLift Systems to NASA. More recently, the National Space Society (NSS), one of the leading grassroots space advocacy organizations, announced its support of the concept.
The use of composites within the rail industry is predicted to grow by up to 40% between 2015 and 2020 according to the Composites Leadership Forum, reports Fibrelite, a UK manufacturer of composite trench covers.
Plasan Carbon Composites (PCC) has been awarded a contract to produce the first composite ramps and bridgeplates for Amtrak.