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The Space Elevator: A Revolutionary Earth-to-Space Transportation System

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0972604505
ISBN-10: 0972604502
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bradley C. Edwards, Ph.D.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Dr. Edwards spent ten years at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His work at Los Alamos focused on development of advanced technologies and space craft for solar system exploration and astrophysical research. In 2000 and 2001 Dr. Edwards received grants from NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts to develop a viable space elevator. Dr. Edwards has assembled world experts in a broad array of technologies to aid in this development. The technical work has been reviewed by NASA and in an open conference by the private space sector and received high praise.

Eric A. Westling

Mr. Westling is a professional science writer with a background in engineering and technical design.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Spageo Inc (January 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972604502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972604505
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,871,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By W. Cooper on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
After the latest shuttle disaster, the challenge of obtaining cheap (and safe) access to space now occupies NASA's attention more than ever before. If humans are ever to realize the dream of space--exploration, commercialization and settlement on a massive scale--then we need to find a means to climb out of the earth's steep gravity well that is reliable and relatively inexpensive.
Dr. Bradley Edwards has studied this problem and his solution is a space elevator, an idea that until recently has attracted the attention more of science fiction writers than working scientists.
This book, while suffering in places from lapses in style and clear presentation, manages admirably to describe the basic details of Edwards's reformulation of the space elevator concept. Non-scientists will have no problem following the argument.
The key to this contemporary scientific and engineering study of the feasibility of a space elevator is the discovery in the early 1990's of carbon nanotubes. Their physical properties of extreme tensile strength and light weight make them an ideal candidate for playing the role of that elusvive material, "unobtainium". Of course it still remains to be see whether they can be formed into a composite that has the requisite characteristics that will permit the construction of a tether 100,000 kilometers long stretching from earth to well beyond geostationary orbit.
An excellent introduction to what we all hope will be the 21st century's CATS pyjamas!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised at the contents of this book. Edwards does seem to have covered most of the caveats that are almost immediately brought up when the concept of a space elevator is presented.
Since a space elevator is an engineering project, analysis of the actual feasibility will depend heavily on the planned structure, which in turn will depend heavily on the materials used. And since we're still a ways off from having the 160 Giga-Pascal material one would like to have, it is hard to say whether this still remains a total pipe-dream or is actually possible.
This book should be considered the equivalent of a back-of-the-envelope calculations showing that technically, we're not totally stumped, and pointing out the areas that really have to be worked on (nanotubes in matrix and ultra-long transmission of energy via laser beams.) I would also have liked to have seen a chapter covering the question of torsional stress on the Space Elevator.
All in all, good work.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert G Merkel on April 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book discusses what appears, to my inexpert eyes at least, to be a well thought-out, comprehensive, and entirely feasible (with one caveat --keep reading for more details) plan for building a space elevator, and its promise to transform escaping from Earth's gravity well from a risky and costly event to a mundane, routine, and above all affordable enterprise. It has convinced me that the idea is one well worth pursuing.
The one big caveat on the book's thesis is that nobody has, as yet, demonstrated material strong enough to build it. Whilst the carbon nanotubes the book bases its assumptions on do indeed exist, as of writing this review noone has even been able to form them into some kind of composite to achieve anything like the strength required. The authors optimistically assume such problems will be quickly overcome - perhaps a necessary assumption for their purposes but one to keep in mind.
Given the quality of the thought that has gone into the book, it is a shame that the presentation sometimes lets the book down. The prose is badly written at times, and could do with some resectioning and summaries of key points so that less technically-inclined readers can grasp the key points without getting loss in the morass of engineering detail.
However, for those interested in how space could be dramatically opened up in the medium-term future, this book is very much worth a read. With any luck, a second edition will be able to report on the progress in nanotube research as well as improve the presentation!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Those who believe like I did that space elevators are a technology more suited for the year 2120 rather than 2020 will find this book a mind changing revelation. The authors do an excellent job of answering a number of questions that skeptics may raise concerning the physics, environmental, and economic issues regarding space elevators. The authors argue well that if such a machine can be built it will revolutionize and economize space access. No longer will space be the exclusive playground of a few wealthy governments and corporations.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
The collaborative effort of physicist Bradley C. Edwards and professional science writer Eric A. Westling, The Space Elevator: A Revolutionary Earth-To-Space Transportation System is an unusually accessible technical engineering study exploring the possibility of reaching out into space itself. Packed from cover to cover with theories, charts, tables, calculations, and scientific explanations, The Space Elevator is both an optimistic and an eye-opening look at what could be possible in the very near future.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frank Luithle on March 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
The authors managed to convince me in a very short time that Edwards' plan of a Space Elevator could indeed be feasible in a very short time from now (given only a few technological breakthroughs yet to be achieved).
The layout of the book is utterly sophomoric, even more of a surprise as Edwards apparently had a professional writer at hand to co-author the book. These guys have obviously never heard anything about LaTeX or other quality type setting systems that are, mind you, standard in the maths/engineering scientific community. The readibility of the formulae suffers most, and the presentation of the tables and figures is a disgrace as well.
Some readers might find the prose is lacking in style, although I quite liked the colloquial approach (I must say that I'm not a native speaker of English, so if I was I might be annoyed as well). The structure of the chapters would profit from quite some refactoring, too.
Still the sheer amount of information provided is impressive and the authors do a great job in convincing even the most sceptical of the feasibility of this project by tackling most, if not all, of the problems at hand with great skill.
I strongly recommend this book to anybody with an interest in space-faring, science fiction or just great technological ideas that should rather be realized today than tomorrow.
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