At 10/4/12 11:16 AM, Ericho wrote:
At 10/3/12 12:12 PM, 24901miles wrote:
Seriously, read a little more about it. The plan is to make a structure which is more like a Yoyo, and less like a Ship's Anchor.It still seems like an awful lot of money. There would still probably be better things to do in space than just make an elevator. Then again, if you had access to something like that, could they make their own moon colony?
The most expensive part of put anything into space it getting it into low Earth orbit. After that, you can basically coast to wherever you need to go. Granted the initial investment is massive, but once it is up the cost of putting anything else into space is significantly reduced.
Here's an example. Let's see a Space Elevator would cost $10 billion to build. At current rates it costs approximately $10,000 to put a pound of anything into space. SpaceX says it will eventually be able to launch for $4300 per pound. It is reasonable to assume that new technology and new rockets will eventually reduce this further to $1000 at some point in the future, say 2050. If a typical rocket at that time will launch with a 2000 payload that would mean $2 million per rocket.
$10 Billion / $2 million = 5,000 launches for the Space Elevator to break even as far as cost savings. Now, that may seem like a lot given the current average of approximately 120 satellites launched per year, but if current models hold true the cost of launching a pound of cargo on a space elevator would immediately drop to $100 a pound. That reduction in price along with the corresponding increase in people willing and able to launch equipment into space should significantly increase the amount of stuff being launched into space and hasten the break even point of any Space Elevator.
Once launching into Space becomes cheaper all those worthy projects we want to do in space become cheaper as well. Just by way of comparison, it cost $450 million to launch a space shuttle. Even with a completely full payload that is still over $7000 a pound and with smaller satellites like the Hubble Space Telescope the price can go as high as $18,000 per pound. Having a space elevator makes research. On a Space Elevator it would cost $2.45 million to put Hubble into low Earth orbit. That means a 99% savings on launching Science Satellites. A cost savings like that makes it much easier to do more worthwhile things in space with less money.
I know I've gone over a lot and probably lost some of you. I've also vastly oversimplified the calculations required as far as the cost savings of a space elevator, but the jist is still the same. A Space Elevator would pay for itself very quickly and make it easier for everyone to get into space. I think it's worth the money and the risk.