[ExI] Inflatable tower could climb to the edge of space

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Jun 13 18:47:06 UTC 2009

John Grigg wrote: "I love the roleplaying game "Transhuman Space."  It is set about 90 years from now, where space elevators are a common thing.  The scenario given is that the U.S. and China are the key players in space.  But that the Chinese were more willing to settle large numbers of people on Mars who put down roots, therefore China tended to dominate The Red Planet, to the great consternation of the United States."

Sorry to up the pedantry quotient of this list even further, but in THS the only operational space elevator is on Mars, hooked up to Deimos, with the flexible cable bending slowly to dodge Phobos. The Earth elevator, due to come down on the south side of Mount Kenya, is due to be completed shortly in the face of opposition from conservationists, Kenyans opposed to defacing a national monument, and business & political rivals. This, like in many good settings, is so you can have dramatic situations set up in an exotic location with colossal stakes to play for.
I took a look at an atlas (it decided not to shrug), looking at the equator it does seem that the equator runs through the most mountainous part of Kenya, and that mount Kenya is 5199m tall.
 In asia, the equator runs through the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi - Borneo and Sumatra the most mountainous at the equator and Sulawesi is very narrow at that point. Sumatra does have a 3800m mountain only a couple of degrees south of the equator.
 In Latin America, Ecuador is very equatorial (as the name suggests), and Cotopaxi (5896m) is just south of the equator, and Chimborazo (slightly further south) is 6267m tall! However, I'm sure these are volcanic peaks and I can't remember how dormant they are. Peru's mountainous parts extend south from 5 degrees. 
 I'm sure for all these some space elevator enthusiast has listed the pros and cons.

John wrote:
"And so you are envisioning a multinational team building the space
elevator/tower?  I have my doubts that the United States government and
people would go for a joint venture with China, an economic and military
rival that might seize the space elevator in a time of crisis.  I have not
been closely following this thread, but has anyone extrapolated what this
project would cost?  And should be try building this within the near future
with current tech?  Or would it be better to wait 20-30 years when
super-nanosteel, etc., exists?"
No-ones evaluated the cost of this particular tower yet, as no finished design exists. I'm sure Keith is firmly on the side of "build a space infrastructure capable of building solar power satellites as fast as possible", and if you are worried about energy shortages, peak oil or global carbon emissions, it makes sense to start as soon as you can. 



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