Space Elevators And Me

Ambivalent Engineer echoes my feelings:
Space elevators from anywhere in the Earth's atmosphere are not going to be built for a very long time, certainly not in my lifetime, probably not ever. In short, they require engineering miracles (cheap large scale carbon nanotubes and megawatt lasers), and they do not have realistic return-on-investment (a proposed $5 billion elevator would lift one 8-ton cargo per week. 5% interest and 5% maintenance is about $10 million per week, or $625 per pound lifted, and does not include the cost of actually lifting the cargo).

This is the main concern I've always had about the whole concept of a space elevator.

What's worse is that to make a space elevator really profitable, lots of launches have to happen. It's the same problem with existing launch systems. The marginal cost of flying the Shuttle is only what a 150 mill? The Average cost ends up being a billion a launch. If the shuttle launched more, than all those facility costs are divied up over greater number of launches. This is a hard thing for most people to get, but basically more launches means less cost.

So the only way for a space elevator to really be the doorway to space that people want it to be is for it to be somehow easier for people to launch large quantities of goods into space.

I'm thinking sending goods up a 100,000 kilometer tether may just have some safety issues... Safety issues that will drive up insurance costs, and make it one helluva crapper of a pain to let a kilo of anything up that string ladder.

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