A new form of carbon ribbon that’s ultra-flexible and super-strong could become the infrastructure for the first working space elevator. Such a structure would usher in a new era in easy space travel.
Long-predicted by science fiction authors, and memorably portrayed in Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel Red Mars (where a space elevator crashes to the planet’s surface), a space elevator would pull people out of the atmosphere quickly – without wasting as much energy as rockets do as they escape Earth’s gravity. The elevator would begin at the Earth’s equator and could stretch up to an orbital platform or even a relocated asteroid. People who wanted to travel to space would ride the elevator far out of the atmosphere and catch a ship in orbit.
Continue reading io9