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July 23rd, 2007
A boost from balloons?
Three months ago, the Liftport Group was sinking fast. The company's founder, Michael Laine, lost his headquarters and was talking about shutting down and ending his dream of building the elements for a space elevator. Laine still isn't out of the woods, but today he says he's on the verge of a business deal that could revive the dream, based on Liftport's work with balloon-borne platforms for communications and surveillance. Could the balloon business keep LiftPort aloft long enough to get to space by 2031?
The technology for actually doing that isn't nearly ready for prime time. Who knows, maybe it never will be. But LiftPort plans to capitalize on the intermediate technological steps - by building the crawlers and tethered aerial platforms for more terrestrial-minded applications, and by perfecting the process for manufacturing carbon nanotube ribbons.
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