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>>>>Ah, but what entity will have the guts/money/where-with-all to try and build one? And where would they put it? What government is going to let a company put it on their soil? What other governments are going to scream about "what happens if it falls down on top of us?" Not to mention the envirnomental extremists that already worry about radiation from satellites/probes exploding on launch!

RM: It'll take an international effort, combining government and industry to make space elevators feasible (especially as we'll need several of them over time to serve the needs of the entire planet.) Where to put them? They'll have to be along the equator. This means there is plenty of open ocean in which to anchor them, preferably along the continental plates (so the sea floor isn't too deep and the elevators are near ports where the cargo can be imported/exported through). (In my novel, I have five of them: one each on either side of S. America (NE of Brazil and near the Galapagos Islands), to serve the western hemisphere, one off the west coast of Africa (Gabon) to serve Western Europe and Africa, one in the Indian Ocean (Maldives) to serve Eastern Europe, the middle East and cental Asia, and one near Papua New Guinea to serve eastern Asia/Australia.

To truly be feasible, the orbital platform would need more than one elevator tether connecting it to Earth. Even traveling at an average of 1,600 kps (which should be achievable by a maglev train in vacuum most of the way), it would take two days each way to traverse 78,000 km. A four-day turnaround just wouldn't be financially viable if there were large loads of cargo to go each way. But having, say, 24 tethers, with six elevator cars per tether, would provide 144 total cars. half could be ascending while the other half are descending. That's 72 cars per day in each direction, or three per hour. Now we're talking plane/train-like schedules. (Of course, we couldn't do anything like this initially. It might take a century or more to build up to this.)

There will always be environmental extremists, so all you can do is try to work around their concerns. But there's no reason this project should be any more of a concern than building a new airport offshore (like they did in Japan) or other large structure. As most of the structure will be in the air and in space, there could actually be less impact on the surface than a larger structure (like an airport) would have.

>>>>PS to Mark, does your novel cover any of this or is more of a pure techie novel? I like both kinds myself.

The space elevator is a tool, like space ships. So, while I describe how it all works enough that the reader is "on the same page" as me, I don't go into a lot of social ramifications of the building/operation of the elevator itself. There is some sabotage that occurs, but it's not due to political/eco extremism. (I don't want to give away the surprise, in case anyone here reads the book.) This is my second novel, although a prequel to my first. I have an idea for a prequel-prequel set decades earlier, so I might delve into more of that in the later book. (I'm currently working on the third book in the series, with an idea for another book to go between #2 and #3. There's no telling where it all might lead.) Presently, the first two books are 99% independent of one another. (There is one minor character introduced at the end of the first book that becomes the protagonist of the second. I pull both books together in the third one.)

If you or anyone else here is interested in reading it, just send me an e-mail, so I have your return e-mail address. I'll send you a PDF file. The book has been through four drafts so far, so it's in pretty good shape, but I'm always happy to get more feedback so I can improve it. (I'm currently drafting a query letter prior to submitting the ms to agents.) There's a lot of "techie" stuff in the books, for those who like "hard" SF, but the stories are really about the people. In the case of the first book (Lichen or Not), it's a coming-of-age story about a young man setting out on his first job, as a Martian geologist (areologist). Life is never simple on the frontier....

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