Space Elevator Upstarts Settle Down To Business

Constructing a vertical railroad stretching into space is no longer wistful fantasy carried in science fiction novels. Just ask the folks at HighLift Systems in Seattle, Washington. Selling the idea of a space elevator, however, takes a lot of ground floor shoe leather and handshakes. For the last few months, officials at HighLift Systems have been talking it up with an alphabet soup of government agencies, like NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Meanwhile, testing of prototype space elevator equipment is near at hand. And by far the strongest link that keeps the concept on the straight and narrow is worldwide work now underway by the carbon nanotube research community. Overall, progress is being made in attaining the lofty goal of operating a 21st century elevator to space.