Who says you can't use a mini-space elevator to generate some cash?
It appears that the boys and girls (are there any girls?) at LiftPort are using their robotic climbers to help setup wireless platforms for rural areas.
(New Scientist Space) [...] LiftPort has finished a 60-day test with a 100-metre-long tether held aloft by four helium balloons. The test was designed to see what kinds of problems would crop up if such a platform were used to transmit Wi-Fi signals. The lofty platforms would be especially useful for providing Wi-Fi coverage to rural areas, says company president Michael Laine.
While doing the test, LiftPort did run into some humorous problems with wild life involving bats, insect colonies breeding on the tether and swallows trying to sip morning dew off of the balloons. They also discovered that the wind can twist the tether, causing it to thicken which results in broken climbers (a problem they will have to resolve before building the space elevator).
But despite the setbacks of the test, it appears as if LiftPort has taken another step towards building an actual space elevator.
(New Scientist Space) Several weeks ago, the company also made its own carbon nanotubes for the first time. Because carbon nanotubes are extremely thin but incredibly strong, they have been studied for use in a lightweight tether that could reach all the way to space.
A space elevator, if successfully built will increase the likely hood that humanity will travel to the stars, especially since public support for space may be declining.
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