Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ideal Space Elevator location

Where does one place a Space Elevator?
Nauru, a small island in the Pacific, an optimum place for a Space Elevator.

I took a virtual trip, circumnavigating the World at the equator to see what places were realistically feasible for placing a space elevator using the following three points as a guide:
  • The location must be near the equator.
  • Easy access for transportation.
  • Road infrastructure.
  • Securable.
There is surprisingly little land on the equator, and much of that is subject to unstable governments and/or too easily accessible to terrorist attack. One of the few locations that almost fit the above parameters is in the Galapagos islands, but unfortunately it is on an active volcanic island.
When all was said and done, I was really only left with a small island called Nauru

Nauru can accommodate Commercial aircraft and has port facilities
  • The island is a scant 40 miles from the equator.
  • It has a full-size runway that can take commercial aircraft.
  • There are port facilities.
  • The population is small and inclined to Western ideals.
  • Because of the vast expanse of ocean surrounding it, access to the island can easily be monitored, thus enhancing security.
At a glance, it is surprising that such a small island with a proportionate population would be in possession of such over-sized transportation facilities, until you learn that this is because of it's main - and dwindling - export.
Guano - essentially bird-poop, layer upon layer created century upon century, creating a commercially viable quantity of rich phosphates, suitable for fertilizer and other commodities. These were ruthlessly mined to exhaustion in the last century. With some of the proceeds, Nauru was able to build a hard-cover road that rings the island. They also had a first-rate runway constructed, capable of receiving commercial aircraft.
To remove the guano, a deep port facility was created which now sits largely unused.
English is widely spoken and literacy is at %97. The country desperately needs some kind of economical infusion, and an invitation to host a Space Elevator would probably be very favorably received.


Brian Dunbar said...

Another consideration for site deployment is the power system for the lifter. We anticipate using free electron lasers to beam power to receptors on the lifter. These can be anywhere within line of sight - some locations will be optimal for this, some not.

We - and Dr. Edwards in his NIAC study - picked on a location west of the Galapagos because it has the calmest weather and fewest incidence of lightning on the planet.

Other considerations aside this is because we have no idea what effects weather and lightning will have. No doubt as progress is made and more tests are done before deployment other sites will come in for consideration.

Goodfellow said...

Hi Brian,
Interesting. However, the Galapagos has no infrastructure and the nation that owns the real-estate is unlikely to invite other powerful nation-states into its back yard.