Wednesday, 29 Dec, 2010 Science
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Advances in Carbon Nanotubes Could Lead to the Construction of Space Elevator

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According to team of researchers from King's College London, advances in carbon nanotubes could lead to the creation of a tether that could stretch over 22,000 miles into space and be used to bring cargo into outer space and back.

It is worth mentioning that the idea to create a space elevator is not new. But despite the fact that the idea was for the first time proposed at the end of 19th century, it has never been considered practical. This is because researchers were unable to find a material that would be strong enough to reach the outer space.

But things have changed with the discovery of carbon nanotubes, which are still in the development stage. In theory these nanotubes are strong enough to reach the outer space.

The proposal to use carbon nanotubes to create space elevators was proposed by Mark Miodownik, a materials scientist at King's College London. The announcement was made at the Royal Institution’s Christmas lecture.

In case researchers create a strong cable for space elevators, it would need to be maintained under tension by the gravity forces and outward centrifugal acceleration.

NASA said that it would offer $3 million over the next 5 years to study the idea and is currently developing scale models.

Miodownik also mentioned that though under development, carbon nanotubes are the first material that can really be used to accomplish their goal.

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