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Critical Technologies for the Development of Future Space Elevator SystemsA space elevator is a tether structure extending through geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) to the surface of the earth. Its center of mass is in GEO such that it orbits the earth in sync with the earth s rotation. In 2004 and 2005, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the Institute for Scientific Research, Inc. worked under a cooperative agreement to research the feasibility of space elevator systems, and to advance the critical technologies required for the future development of space elevators for earth to orbit transportation. The discovery of carbon nanotubes in the early 1990's was the first indication that it might be possible to develop materials strong enough to make space elevator construction feasible. This report presents an overview of some of the latest NASA sponsored research on space elevator design, and the systems and materials that will be required to make space elevator construction possible. In conclusion, the most critical technology for earth-based space elevators is the successful development of ultra high strength carbon nanotube reinforced composites for ribbon construction in the 1OOGPa range. In addition, many intermediate technology goals and demonstration missions for the space elevator can provide significant advancements to other spaceflight and terrestrial applications.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Smitherman, David V., Jr.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2005
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 56th International Astronautical Congress
Location: Fukukoa
Country: Japan
Start Date: October 17, 2005
End Date: October 21, 2005
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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