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Perth in race for lift rides into space
Perth, Australia is one of two spots in the world being considered for development of a space elevator, [...] NASA has given HighLift Systems $960,000 in seed funding plus another grant of an unknown sum for the project, which has been given momentum by the Columbia shuttle disaster. [...] HighLift's preferred venue is west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean but initial investigations have found the Indian Ocean off Perth could be more suitable. [...]
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11 Responses:

  1. pnendick says:

    Am I the only one concerned about the angular moment this could impart upon the earth? Certainly not, but the whole concept strikes me as flawed.

    • aml says:

      What about conservation of angular momentum?

      When an elevator ascends the ribbon, it must be accelerated eastward because the Earth's rotation represents a larger eastward velocity the higher you go. The required eastward force on the ascending elevator would have to be provided by a corresponding westward force on the ribbon.
      If you go through the math quantitatively, the angular momentum for the climbers requires a pound or so of force over the one-week travel time, and we do that easily with our many tons of material in the anchor and the counterweight.

      The quantities really are tiny, but just to be complete, a climber going up pushes the entire elevator slightly to the east, causing it to lean. However, the ribbon recovers for the same reason that it stays up in the first place. Centripetal acceleration is acting on the upper two-thirds pulling it outward, and the lost angular momentum is replaced very quickly (essentially as fast as it is lost). The ribbon will never loose enough angular momentum to even deflect a single degree let alone fall. The extra angular momentum is stolen from the Earth's rotation; we will have to worry about this effect slowing down the Earth and making the day longer if we ever decide to ship Australia into space.

      • pnendick says:

        I'm too tired to wake the physics student in myself but my inner skeptic is very lucid. This whole affair seems as overly-simplistic as the late Dr. Alexander Abian's (prof of Mathematics, Iowa State University) seemingly sound rationale for blowing up the moon. An excerpt from one of his many usenet rants:

        Rowland: I don't think you get it. It is beyond the capabilities of our civilization, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, to move the Earth's solar orbit. We can't blow up or move the Moon either, but that wouldn't effect the Earth's solar orbit anyway.

        Abian answers: Rowland I don't think you get it. Some 200 years ago it was also said that flying to the Moon was beyond the capabilities.... It was also said that talking from one country to another was beyond the capabilities..... It was also said that when you had trouble with the valves of your heart it was beyond our capabilities..... So, please Rowland DO NOT GIVE ME THESE ASININE PARTYLINE "Beyond our capabilities" garbage. Please stop that pathetic morbid pessimism!

        My point? Beware techno-masturbation.

        • Call me a naysayer if you will, but I say nay. Space elevators will never never ever become a reality. If you ask me, nuclear powered space shuttles are the way to go.

          • pnendick says:

            Nuts to that, I have seen the future and it is pneumatic tubes.

            • Its really funny you mention that because a friend of mine and I were talking about just that same idea. And it seems to me that it would be a great way to do it if there was a way to bypass the postal system all together. But we agreed that creating a pneumatic tube router would be fucking hard.

  2. thesliver says:

    Hmmmm, you can go to space, but you have to go to Perth first?

    This might have a seriously detrimental effect on space tourism.

  3. ronbar says:

    Ten bonus points for the title.

  4. loic says:

    Woot! Aerospace in my home town - perhaps this is the payoff for supporting the war.