Technology Development and Demonstration Concepts for the Space Elevator
October 7, 2004
Author: David Smitherman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Abstract: In 1999, the author managed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a space elevator workshop at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to explore the potential feasibility of space elevators in the 21st century, and to identify the critical technologies and demonstration missions needed to make the development of space elevators feasible. Since that time, a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) funded study proposed a simpler concept for the first space elevator system using more near-term technologies. This paper will review some of the latest ideas for space elevator development, the critical technologies required, and some of the ideas proposed for demonstrating the feasibility for full-scale development of an Earth to Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) Space Elevator. In conclusion, this paper finds that the most critical technologies for an earth-based space elevator include Carbon Nano-Tube (CNT) composite materials development and object avoidance technologies; that the lack of successful development of these technologies need not preclude continued development of space elevator systems in general; and that the critical technologies required for the earth-based space elevator are not required for similar systems at the Moon, and other locations.
Full paper availability at:
NASA Technical Report Server: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20040161582
International Astronautical Congress: https://iafastro.directory/iac/archive/browse/IAC-04/IAA.3.8/3/186/