Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Puffing our way to space - Inflatable tower may offer easier access to space

Editor's note: First, I don't like it that the word "space" has such faraway connotations. Space is not that far away. One only has to get out of the thin film of our atmosphere to be in "space." That's only a little over 19 miles. Second, that being said, getting there, and getting into a stable orbit, is quite difficult yet useful to humanity. Useful earth orbits are low (100 - 1,240 miles), medium (1,240 - just under 22,240 miles) geosynchronous (22,236 miles), and high (beyond geosynchronous). Modern communications are dependent on orbiting satellites. No-gravity science can only be done in orbit. And of course there's observation of the earth from on high. So getting to "space" is important, and getting there cheaply even more so.

MSNBC - July 2, 2009, by Eric Bland

At 9-miles tall, it could also enable creation of new wireless data network

A nine-mile-high inflatable tower (a smaller-scale model is shown here), tethered to a mountain top could also cut the cost to launch spacecraft, according to a new paper.

An inflatable tower nine miles tall and tethered to a mountain top could cut the cost to launch spacecraft, reduce the need for geostationary communications satellites and improve cell phone signals.

"This structure could be made of commercially available materials," said Brendan Quine, who, along with Raj Seth and George Zhu at York University in Toronto wrote an article detailing their tower in the journal Acta Astronautica.

The tower itself would be 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) tall, 230 meters (754 feet) across, and weigh approximately 800,000 tons, or about twice the weight of the world's largest supertanker when fully inflated with a variety of gases, including helium.

Read entire story>>

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