Space elevator – level 3
Ideas of a space elevator have been around since the 19th century; however, we still continue to rely on tried and tested methods of getting into space.
Rockets use a lot of fuel to get into space, and they have to carry fuel to lift the fuel, therefore, getting to the Moon or Mars costs millions of dollars. With a space elevator, the cost could be reduced to dollars per kilogram.
The basic idea of a space elevator is a cable that’s pulled thanks to a counterweight. The elevator stays vertical because the counterweight is thrown outward by the Earth’s rotation and the base is held down by gravity. Early ideas suggested building a cable from Earth up into space; however, the materials needed to withstand such enormous weight don’t exist. Physicists have come up with a solution, carbon nanotubes, a supermaterial stronger than other materials. But there are estimated millions of objects orbiting the Earth, and they could cause significant damage to the elevator.
Difficult words: counterweight (a weight that’s as heavy as something else, so that the two objects can balance), withstand (to resist), nanotube (a material that has a tube-like structure and it’s composed of a large number of carbon atoms).
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Is it possible to build a space elevator using carbon nanotubes?
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