Today, a trip into space is a bone-crunching, rocket-roaring ride with a multi-billion dollar price tag. Tomorrow, it might be a smooth, 62,000-mile elevator ride, cheap enough for the masses.
The journey would take place on a “space elevator,” which sounds like something out of science fiction: A ribbon from Earth that lifts crew and cargo up toward the stars. But thanks to recent advances in technology, some scientists say this high-wire act isn't as big a stretch as one might think.
Aug. 13-16, hundreds of scientists, researchers, and space enthusiasts from all over the world will gather at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus for Space Elevator Conference 2009 – an exploration of the technical, legal, and social challenges of building an elevator to space.
The fact is, ever since Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky dreamed up the idea in 1895, the space elevator has lived primarily in the imaginations of writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, admits David Horn, a program manager on the Office Live Service Experience team and the conference's organizer. "It does sound a little like sci-fi but, hopefully, not for long," Horn says. "The excitement about the space elevator is that the technologies we need to make this happen are very near."
Full Story at microsoft.com