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Home > News > Air Force Academy Takes On The Space Elevator

September 21st, 2004

Air Force Academy Takes On The Space Elevator

Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) are doing research on the space elevator, one of the latest scientific concepts to emerge for sending cargo into space.


Space Elevator Now the Subject of Research By Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy

Seattle, Washington. September 21, 2004

Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) are doing research on the space elevator, one of the latest scientific concepts to emerge for sending cargo into space.

The research is being conducted as part of USAFA's senior-level independent study program in the department of Astronautics and may be extended to other academic departments in the near future. The research is being supported by LiftPort Group, the Bremerton, Wash. company formed to build the first commercial elevator to space.

LiftPort Group is providing USAFA with a list of proposed research topics on the space elevator. Cadets participating in the research program can select the topic of their choice, which they develop into a paper for presentation at the end of the one semester course. Throughout the course, LiftPort is offering cadets assistance in accessing the latest resources on the space elevator concept, from interviews with leading industry experts to access to the latest studies.

"My students are fascinated with the concept of the space elevator," said Major Tom Joslyn, instructor of Astronautical Engineering at USAFA and mentor for cadets conducting research on the space elevator. "They are young enough to see such a program come to fruition and many of them see it as a next generation launch system that could revolutionize access to space. Interest in the scientific and engineering objectives of the space elevator will undoubtedly motivate them to learn more than we require them to and hopefully make some discoveries that will help overcome roadblocks to the space elevator."

"We're delighted that the Air Force has taken an interest in the space elevator concept as the subject of research by its cadets," said Michael Laine, president and founder of LiftPort Group. "The Academy has long been noted for the vital role it plays in the U.S. space program, and the cadets represent its future key leaders. Their work can only help further and enhance the development of our elevator to space."

The space elevator is just one of the real-life space related research topics to be addressed by USAFA cadets participating in research programs during their senior year. Over the years, cadets have developed and flown three student experiment packages on space shuttle missions; built and flown small satellite prototypes on high altitude research balloons; built three satellites (and flown two in space); built two sounding rockets that have flown above 30,000 feet; and built one supersonic rocket that they hope to take to 100km next academic year.

The space elevator concept has been in existence for more than half a century, and has become the subject of serious research in the past decade by a variety of organizations, including LiftPort Group. As proposed by LiftPort, the space elevator will consist of a carbon nanotube composite ribbon stretching some 62,000 miles from earth to space. The elevator will be anchored to an offshore sea platform near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, and to a small counterweight in space. Mechanical lifters will move up and down the ribbon, carrying such items as satellites, solar power systems and, eventually, people into space. More information can be obtained at the company's web site,

Copyright © LiftPort

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