Space elevator robot passes 1,000-foot markSpace elevator robot passes 1,000-foot mark
A private group has taken one small step toward the prospect of building a futuristic space elevator. LiftPort Group Inc., of Bremerton, Wash., has successfully tested a robot climber — a novel piece of hardware that reeled itself up and down a lengthy ribbon dangling from a high-altitude balloon. The test run, conducted earlier this week, is seen as a precursor experiment intended to flight validate equipment and methods to construct a space elevator. This visionary concept would make use of an ultra-strong carbon nanotube composite ribbon stretching up to 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) from Earth into space. The space elevator would be anchored to an offshore sea platform near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. At the other end in space, the ribbon would be attached to a small counterweight. Mechanical “lifters” — robotic elevator cars — would move up and down the ribbon, carrying such items as satellites, solar power systems and eventually people into space. LiftPort’s plan is to take the concept from the research laboratory to commercial development.