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Space Elevator - Research Proposal Example

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Man, by nature, is an innovator. He has continuously tested the horizon of the thought and imagination resulting in a breathtaking array of inventions and discoveries. However, the space has remained a challenge - apart from sporadic missions and a few lunar expeditions; man has not been able to tame the unknown here…
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Space Elevator
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"Space Elevator"

Download file to see previous pages It is a fixed structure as opposed to a vehicle which will be fuel hungry and will have limited capacity of locomotion between the body and the space. A typical space elevator will be a cable like structure extending from the earth's surface into the outer space. It's center of mass will coincide with the Geostationary Earth Orbit, which is at an altitude of 35,786 km. Locomotion will be facilitated by electromagnetic vehicles which will travel along the cables and will be effective in the movement of people, power and other material. (Audacious & Outrageous: Space Elevators)
The Space Elevator has caught the fancy of the scientific fraternity all across the globe. As the race to become the builder of the world's first Space Elevator gets heated up, interesting facts emerge. Japanese scientists have gone on record proclaiming that they were in the process of researching the possibility of building a Space Elevator - capable of transporting cargo as well as tourists, for $ 11 Billion. (Ramadge and Schneider) A region off the west coast of Australia has been identified as an Earth Dock, a location perfect for building the base earth station. "The Indian Ocean off Western Australia has been identified as an ideal location for a 'space elevator'; a thin carbon nano tube connecting a barge to a space station, along which supplies could be carried up. Construction could draw on the WA oil industry's expertise in constructing offshore platforms, as well as its material resources. NASA is currently investigating the feasibility of the project." (qtd. in "Lost in Space' Setting a new direction for Australia's space science and industry sector", 27)
The structural specifications of the Space Elevator include several parts like the base station, a cable, climbers, and a counterweight. Base stations, in almost all prototypes, are of two varieties - stationary and mobile. Ships and other vessels can serve as mobile base stations while buildings at higher altitudes can suffice as stationary base stations. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages - while it will be cheaper to operate a stationary base station, a mobile base station can be moved so as to avoid any natural calamity. The cables are perhaps the most important part of the setup. It is necessary to manufacture the cables out of a light yet sturdy material. To be economically viable it will be necessary to produce the material at a mass scale and at a viable price. Research has shown that Carbon nano tubes have the capacity to withstand tensile strength of 63 to 177 GPa and are pretty light, as because of the chemical structure of the carbon atoms ensure that there is free space in between the carbon atoms. Thorough research is necessary to produce carbon nano tubes which are stronger. Another point needs to be kept in mind while constructing a nano tube; it will have to bear its own weight along with the weight of the particles which will be transported. Climbers are basically the vessels which will move along the cable. Climbers again will have to be light and heat resistant - they will encounter atmospheric friction while moving up and down a cable. The most important part is the source of power for the climbers. Options like nuclear power, solar energy, laser power beaming are there to be explored. The counterweight is the object which will hold ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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