The Road Up


After getting Burt Rutan to finally get his spacecraft flying after dropping hints for a decade, the X-Prize organization is turning its all-enabling gaze to the Space Elevator. What’s interesting about this is not just the ambient interest in the Space Elevator and its nature as a bridge to the rest of the universe; this is citizen space exploration. “Space is a place, not a program,” as they say.

Imagine a world where these things are all over the place. Where taking an elevator to space is like a cruise, where manufacturing is done in orbit and you can just go up there and check out the facilities, where the Moon is a matter of time, not billions of dollars, away.

This is the universe next door.

0 thoughts on “The Road Up”

  1. An aside, Brian:

    I grew up on Narragansett Island, in Rhode Island. Until 1929, the island was accessible only by the ferry service that had been running since the 17th century. Then a modest bridge was built that ennabled the citizens of Newport to get to Providence, the capital. This bridge faces East, toward Cape Cod, which is not the direction of the rest of the continent. But in 1969, just a few years before I was born, the Newport Bridge was completed. People of my parents’ generation had to take the day just to cross the water to the mainland. By the time I was a teenager, we were driving up to Providence to see Jane’s Addiction because it was only a half hour drive away over the bridge.

    The bridge didn’t just connect Newport to Providence. It made them part of the same place. It took out the investment of time and effort that the ferry represented and made it practical to go to Providence to go to a show, go out to dinner, go to a special grocery store.

    The Space Elevator is a similar thing. It makes outer space a place to go, a place that is, after all, only 50 kilometers away.

  2. Can you imagine some dick getting into the space elevator and hitting all the buttons so it stops on every floor on the way up?

    Also, if they can build this, maybe they can figure out the stutterwarp drive. That would be sweet.

  3. “Aw, man! Now we’re not gonna get there for weeks!

    What’s a stutterwarp drive? Does it rely on imagining that the universe works differently than it really does? Cuz what’s neat about the Space Elevator is that it’s physically possible, just difficult.

  4. A custom strategy game called “The Great Game” was used by the authors to develop the background history for 2300 AD.

    Oh, man. This is the most inspiratonal sentence I’ve ever read.

    When I saw your link, I thought, “Is that Traveller: 2300 that he’s talking about?” The page satisfied a question I didn’t know I’d had.

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