Thoughts of space elevators have been floating in the minds of scientists for decades. Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, the first concept appeared in 1895. Today, thanks to carbon nanotube fibers, we might be closer than ever to making them a reality. Dr. Matteo Pasquali of Rice University in Houston, strongly believes that carbon nanotube fibers are very light, very strong and very conductive – a main component needed for these elevators. Using these nanotube fibers to build an elevator to space would ultimately replace the use of rockets.
According to Dr. Pasquali, instead of launching a satellite like we do now – which requires rockets and lot of propulsion that can be very expensive – we would just load the satellite in this elevator. Carbon nanotube fibers are thinner than a strand of hair but two strands are strong enough to hold up a small light bulb as well as to help to power it. Dr. Pasquali and his team were the first to spin the fiber longer than a few centimeters. Although space elevators are several decades away from becoming a reality, Dr. Pasquali is optimistic that we are taking steps in the right direction.