Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Could Riding A Space Elevator Be Dangerous? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
If humanity is ever able to construct an elevator to the stars, they may have to overcome a haunting problem that will plague all those who desire to live space.

(New Scientist Space) [P]assengers could be killed by the radiation they receive on the way to the top, say Anders Jorgensen and Steven Patamia at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and Blaise Gassend of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the proposed speed of 200 kilometres per hour, passengers would spend a few days in the Van Allen radiation belts, long enough to induce severe sickness and even death.

The article (which requires subscription) proposes shifting the elevator away from the equator in order to avoid the belts of radiation. Despite being a great idea, such a move would reduce the amount of momentum needed to lift objects into space.

It would probably be wiser to simply launch vehicles until a radiation solution can be discovered as moving the base away from the equator would mean lengthening the space elevator cable.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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