Inflatable Space Tower Prototype Assembled
An inflatable space tower tall enough launch spacecraft has been proposed by Brendan Quine, Raj Seth and George Zhu at York University in Toronto, Canada. If the tower is built on a suitable mountain peak it could reach an altitude of about 20 kilometers.
(Inflatable space tower prototype)
The team envisages assembling the structure from a series of modules constructed from Kevlar-polyethylene composite tubes made rigid by inflating them with a lightweight gas such as helium. To test the idea, they built a 7-meter scale model made up of six modules (see above image). Each module was built out of three laminated polyethylene tubes 8 centimeters in diameter, mounted around circular spacers and inflated with air.
To stay upright and withstand winds, full-scale structures would require gyroscopes and active stabilization systems in each module. The team modeled a 15-kilometer tower made up of 100 modules, each one 150 meter tall and 230 metres in diameter, built from inflatable tubes 2 meters across. Quine estimates it would weigh about 800,000 tonnes when pressurized - around twice the weight of the world's largest supertanker.
Fans of science fiction writer David Brin may recall the towering "Needles from his 1980 novel Sundiver.
...the few times he had left Earth before, rising and returning by balloon, there have been the other ships to watch, bright and busy as they floated up to Power Station or back down the pressurized interior of one of the Needles.
Neither of the great Needles had ever been boring. The thin ceram walls that held the twenty-mile towers at sea-level pressures had been painted with gigantic murals -- huge swooping birds and pseudo science-fiction space battles copied from twenty-century magazines. It had never been claustrophobic.
Via New Scientist; thanks to Erik Nodacker for submitting the story and the tip.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/10/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 7 )
Related News Stories -
Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Canada's Inflatable Space Elevator Tower
"...establish an elevator system linking Earth to space?"- Arthur C. Clarke, 1976.
Artificial Gravity? Why Not?
'The artificial gravity-controls in the base of the ship... were being tampered with!' - Ray Cummings
NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Ecocapsule - Simak's Dream Of A Prefab House
'They are heated and air conditioned by a solar plant that tops anything... that we have today.'
New Super Slippery Surface Better Than Nature's
'The water flowed off those walls without binding tension.'
Killer Robot COTSBot Stalks Starfish
'X-120's long jointed arms swung swiftly. The tiny animal lay crushed...'
Heart-In-A-Box Saves Organ For Later
'Storage in the hospital's organ banks...'
MultiFab 10-Material 3D Printer
'On the concrete platform, in front of the dying Biltong, lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'
Chaac Ha Dew Collector ala Dune
'The surface condenses moisture out of the air. That moisture trickles down...'
Digital Immortality For Your Personality
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'
Robots Take Our Jobs By Reading Our Instructions
'The Talk Between Robots radio...'
Surgery In Space
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'
Flimmer Navy Drone Flies And Swims
Launch the Flying Sub!
Taser Drones Now Legal In North Dakota
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'
Growing Metal In The Shape You Want
What more do you need, engineers?
Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'
World's First Full-Colour, Flexible Thin-Film Reflective Display
'A wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour....'
Jazz AI Compliments Of DARPA
'I request that you feed the correlation between those dots and the levers of the panel into my memory banks.'
Tasty Space Lettuce!
Having tested, we tasted.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories