Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Space Elevator – An Interview with LiftPort's Michael J. Laine

Yes, I’m a believer. I believe in the promise of the Space Elevator (SE). I also believe that we are well on our way to perfecting the technologies that will enable the SE. Further, I believe that the SE itself will enable humankind to “go where no one has gone before” in ways that our 1960’s era space technology cannot.

Another believer is Michael J. Laine, President and Chief Strategic Officer of the LiftPort Group "The Space Elevator Companies." My favorite quote: “We are building a tool for future generations of the earth.”

The following is an excerpt of the interview I did with Michael on the SE.

RR: What advantages does having a SE bring to the country or business that builds the first one?

It means limitless, safe, simple, affordable access to space, with a predictable cargo schedule. It means the cargo can become an enormous increase in energy resources (huge solar energy satellites supplying clean - endlessly renewable - power back to earth); expanded, permanent settlements on the moon and mars and asteroids, and a stepping stone beyond, into the 'wild black yonder.' It means expanded communications to everyone on the planet - phone, video, internet, because of a greatly increased commsat infrastructure. It means bio-science advances that may allow us to live longer and in greater comfort in our old age, and better, higher purity medicines that we will use in our goal of a full and healthy life. So these advantages would go to the whole planet, really.

RR: Who's for it, and why?

The day we open for business, we will have 10x the current global launch capacity... that means that basic supply and demand forces will apply, and the cost per pound will drop dramatically. We are anticipating $400/lb ranges, and some people are predicting it could go lower than that, once the 2nd and 3rd elevators are built.

So, who will it benefit? Anyone that wants low-cost, high-volume access to space. This would mean, for instance, that smaller schools could do space-based research. Instead of a huge budget allocation, smaller schools could open up new branches of research, because the costs of access have dropped so much. What this means is that we could see significant advances in biosciences, pharmaceuticals, electronics and material sciences.

RR: In your opinion, if a full-scale effort was launched today, how long before the first SE could be built?

Look at our countdown clock. we are serious about it. Lots of big projects, space, factories, tunnels, bridges say something like "in 20 years we'll..." and that gives them a lot of room to fudge the numbers and let deadlines slip. We don't want to be that kind of project.

We've set a date (October 27, 2031), and that is what we are working toward.

Many people have laughed at us about this. That's fine, my team knows how many days are left and our internal motto is 'Every Day Is Precious.' We know people are counting on us to make this happen, and we don't intend to let them down.

Read the entire interview: http://www.nanotech-now.com/Michael-Laine-Oct2004.htm

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