Space Elevators have been the staple subject for Sci Fi writers for years now, but SciFi may be taking a step towards reality, if Tech futures ventures company LiftPort have anything to do with it.
These guys seem to have actually done some homework. Their plans are certainly bold, that’s for sure: their website even includes a countdown timer to the estimated 2018 launch.
The compelling argument for the idea is pretty simple: the only stumbling block to widespread space habitation and exploitation is the huge cost and risk associated with rocket ascents, not to mention the low payload limits.
The main facilitators are the advances (present and future predicted) in plastics and fibre technologies. The quoted technology of choice is the single molecule carbon nanotube. Even in present day terms it has 50% of the required strength when woven.
Liftport paint a picture of a flat ribbon, perhaps 10-12 inches wide climbing (or should that be suspended?) 30K miles to and beyond geosynchronous orbit.
as the balancing weight is beyond Geosync, the weight will actually be trying to fly outwards, and thus will tension the ribbon.
the climb is expected to take around 4 weeks.
Check out the website, these guys could be the people to open the space frontier for all of us!