Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator Paperback – 27 Oct 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
A clear intelligent plan of how to achieve it, not Nasa's ever receding & expensive plans but something that could be achieved by corporations or even rich individual in the next few years.
Go on buy it and believe again in our future in space.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'm not a scientist, but I do consider myself a science enthusiast with a growing emphasis in the field of human space exploration. Over the last year I have followed the political goings on with regards to NASA and I wish members of congress would read this book, or at the very least be made to understand what it could mean for the future of how we interact with the universe beyond our planet. The current path of our space program is simply unsustainable. We use large quantities of rocket fuel, plus oxygen so it will burn, to lift relatively small payloads into space, and that fuel is only getting more expensive. The more weight you need to send, the more rocket fuel and oxygen you need to get it off the ground, which in turn IS more weight that needs to get off the ground. We need a better way. Even in this time of economic uncertainty we must find the courage to think of bold new ideas that increase out access and understanding of outer space. And it is especially because of that economic uncertainty that we must explore options that reduce our dependency on rocket fuel and make access to space cheaper and safer. This book explores what I think to be the best of such options in detail.
The concept of the space elevator only entered my mind a few fears ago, and I was instantly enthralled by it. This book offers a fairly comprehensive look at this amazing proposal for an engineering project that will fundamentally change the way we reach beyond our planet. This book explains how a space elevator is not only practical and profitable, but also quite possible given some dedication and a little political/financial will. It explains in detail how long the elevator must be, what components are needed for it to be fully operational, and how we can use it as a launch platform to literally use the Earth's rotation to fling cargo and crafts out to the rest of the solar system. What kind of security issues must be taken? Where should it be built? How much might it cost? Can we build one on the moon and Mars as well? What changes to our society could be expected from its/their existence? All these questions and more are covered in detail in plain language.
I gave this book 5 stars because it not only fulfilled my expectations but also seems successful in being exactly what it meant to be: a comprehensive look at an amazing idea that can and should be a reality in the the next couple of decades.
The idea is very old (The tower of Babylon and Jacobs ladder in the Old Testament, Tsiolkowsky 1895, Artsutanov 1960, Pearson 1975 ...) But all the time there existed no material of the necessary strength for the cable till 1991, when the carbon nano tubes (CNT) were discovered. These tubes have diameters of some Nanometers, but in the 20 years since they were found, it was not possible to make them longer than some millimeters, instead of the 36.000 km needed. In his book, published in 2006, Mr. Bradley proclaims it will be done in 2 to 5 years. Besides: Experts in solid state physics tell us, that the longer the tubes are, the more they lose strength through unavoidable flaws in the lattice structure.
The next great problem is how to drive the elevator cabins (climbers, lifters, cruisers) up. The only method pursued now is directing a laser beam up, where the light is transformed to electric energy by photo cells (which have a maximum efficiency of about 40% today). To move upwards with about 100 miles per hour you need 10 MW (Mega Watt) continuous laser power. Mr. Bradley claims that they exist already. Please tell us where. In the annual space elevator competitions it is envisioned, to bring the climbers up to 1km height.
Many other problems are still unsolved or unsolvable. Mr. Bradley informs us about them as a matter of fact, but dismisses each of them easily on about half a page.