New Investments in Cheaper Space Travel

People have been dreaming about space elevators for decades.

Or at least laughing…

But recently, there have been some new technological developments that have practically knocked the idea out of the sphere of pure science fiction and wishful thinking…

And into the world of things to come.

Thanks to a new study on the subject undertaken by scientists and engineers around the world, we now have a better idea of what would be required to build a space elevator.

And it turns out it’s not just possible, it’s downright practical!

Thanks to a new study… we now have a better idea of what would be required to build a space elevator.

Up until now, one of the biggest barriers to even entertaining the idea of a real space elevator was the cable itself.

In the 20th century, steel was the go-to material for pretty much everything that needed to be strong and last a long time.

However, in order for us to build a steel cable long enough to reach geostationary orbit (about 22,200miles) and strong enough to carry a payload of 1,000 tons… the cable alone would have to an unwieldy mass, that’s just not very practical at all.

This problem alone was one of the reasons so many people laughed off the idea of the space elevator as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.

But you and I both know that in the 21st century, steel is for chumps.

Ever since the advent of materials like carbon nanotubes and graphene ribbons, steel has taken a back seat in many high-tech endeavors. And for good reason.

The same cable reaching from Earth to geostationary orbit and capable of carrying a 1,000-ton payload is possible with carbon nanotubes.

And compared with its steel counterpart, the amount we would need to pull it off is laughably small, at about 140,000 tons and only 4 cm at its thickest.

Sure, we’re a long way from having the ability to produce something like that, but at least now it’s within the realm of possibility, which is exactly where we like to see our most lofty sci-fi imaginings.

It’s hard to say when exactly a space elevator would be possible, even in the face of all the progress the idea has made over the last few decades. There are still many technological advances to achieve and many obstacles to overcome.

But one could make the case that at some point, it may actually be our only practical option for traveling into space.

We’ve talked before about the cost of getting things off good old Mother Earth (see Railroad To Space: A Low(er) Cost Leap Into The Stars). And even though some new ideas are being pioneered by companies like SpaceX, the truth is rockets still cost a lot of money, and the more you try to load into them, the more expensive they get!

In any case, as the space industry continues to expand, the cost of going back and forth with rocket fuel will become so astronomical we won’t have any choice but to look at alternatives.

And a space elevator could be the ticket.

The investigators in the study I mentioned above believe a space elevator could pay for itself in a matter of decades, and open the door to space for the entire human species and not just large companies and government agencies.

And since populating other planets is humanity’s only chance of surviving in the very long term, there is a considerable amount of motivation to find solutions to the problems holding back ideas like this.

I just hope I get to see it in my lifetime.

Here’s to the future,

Patrick Copeland
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: What’s remarkable about the times we live in is that amazing futuristic technology — from miracle materials to star wars laser tech — is gaining speed. Already, individuals and organizations are making these ideas a reality, and they’re investable. For a look at some of our best investment ideas in the most dynamic and profitable corners of the market, sign up for the FREE Tomorrow in Review e-letter, right here.

The Daily Reckoning