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Dr. Bryan Laubscher, Monday, 7-16-12 July 17, 2012

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Dr. Bryan Laubscher, Monday, 7-16-12


Guest:  Dr. Bryan Laubscher.  Topics:  The Space Elevator and the upcoming annual elevator conference.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed back Dr. Bryan Laubscher for our annual space elevator update program.  Our first order of business was to discuss the upcoming Space Elevator 2012 conference.  Check it out at www.isec.org/sec.  Registration, hotel, programming, speaker, and session information is provided on the website.  Dr. Laubscher noted some differences this year including its location, the Seattle Museum of Flight.  Also, the Family Science Fest on the conference first day.  Bryan highlighted some of the sessions including those dealing with elevator operations and alternative launch options including Stratolauncher.  We fielded several email questions from listeners and then Michael called in to ask about security requirements for the elevator.  This turned out to be a most interesting discussion but one leaving us with lots of unanswered questions. In discussing elevator security, we talked about international law, the proposed Law of the Sea Treaty, offshore oil platforms, territorial water issues, DOD and department of Navy defense actions, and more.  Tony emailed in a series of questions including one that asked about the rotovavtor.  Later, I asked Bryan if elevator security should be a taxpayer responsibility and he said yes, noting that revenues from the elevator along with taxes paid would be in excess of security costs.  We then talked about the elevator being an international project or an American project.  Bryan preferred American but we talked about both sides of this issue.  Bryan also had lots to say about materials and the CNT ribbon.  He told us about the detangler and the size of the ribbon, plus the incremental plan in ribbon development.  We asked Bryan timeline questions and it was also said that the biggest problem other than materials waiting to be solved was the surface to LEO transportation.

In our second shorter segment, we talked about inspiration, the need to learn systems engineering, and the absence of congressional political support for the elevator.  A listener asked about the payload capacity which Bryan said was 20 tons.  He mentioned spinoff technology including energy storage.  Terry wanted to know how scalable the elevator concept was and Bryan mentioned progress with climber reusability issues. In our summary, he said the overall biggest challenge still remained the materials.

Post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to contact Dr. Laubscher, send your email to me for forwarding.  For more info on the conference, use www.isec.org/sec/index.php/contact-us.




1. Terry in Corpus Christi - July 17, 2012

It might never happen, but anything is dreaming getting manned missions out of LEO. It would be great to see some sort of deep space missions in the next twenty years.

2. Terry in Corpus Christi - July 17, 2012

Great program! I hope to live long enough to see a functional elevator. Bryan, keep up the good work.

Kelly Starks - July 17, 2012

😉 Not likely to ever. The economics don’t work out. Couldn’t even compete with current rockets. Also they are assuming levels of performance of the ribbon cable that might not even be theoretically possible.

Bryan E. Laubscher - July 20, 2012

Although it is true that the Space Elevator requires a material strength beyond what is now possible, once built the economics does work out. The best analogy I know of is with a railroad. After a huge capital outlay to lay the tracks (deploy the elevator) the cost of transporting material across the tracks is quite low. Historically, the builders of the transcontinental railroad went bankrupt and then became among the richest men in America. The fundamental questions remain:
1) Can we advance material strength to the point of making the elevator feasible?
2) Do we have the will as a nation or world to venture beyond the technologies we have now?

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