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In a report about the 2nd annual international space elevator conference (so only 48 years to go until they actually build one, then) there's this:
One unlikely problem could be capturing the public's imagination. "When we actually start launching this it's going to be kind of boring," Dr Edwards said. "There's no smoke, there's no pillars of fire and there's no loud rumbling noises. There's just this thing that slowly ascends the ribbon into space."

Bah. It's a space elevator! How can people not understand that a space elevator is just cool?
A ribbon? The space elevator is going to be a ribbon? Sucky.

And why exactly do we need a space elevator? Must go look at site as long as it doesn't use too many big words.
And why exactly do we need a space elevator?

Don't make me get all Sam Seaborn on yo' ass.
But you're doing that all of the time.
Mmmm, Sam.
Yes, that's exactly the response I was hoping for, and not a digression from the central issue at all. [/Giles]
It's your fault. You mentioned Sam. Did you expect me to be frightened by the thought of Sam? Though, come to think of it, mentioning Sam isn't a fault, and should be encouraged to happen more. mmm, sam seaborn.
Don't you have a whole community for this now? :-p
I can "mmmmm" wherever I want to. Especially if it annoys you.

mmmm, sam. rob lowe goodness.
There's a Rob Lowe at my workplace. Also a Philip Marlow. Should I go ask him for tips on how to write noir?
Wrong Rob Lowe. And yes.
Wrong Rob Lowe.

You don't know that. It's not like he's got a regular acting gig anymore, after all. :-p
What about that pilot of his, eh?
It's kinda set in an office. Maybe he's doing character acting...
I mean, method acting. Duh.
To elevate things. INTO SPPAAAAAAAAAACE!!!!!
Don't we have spaceships for that? And what happens if the elevator breaks down when people are half-way up, huh? What are they going to do with all their intergalactic shopping bags? Will they have to walk all the way back down?
I'll let a friend of mine explain in more detail. Even if his pictures are broken.
Still, what about the breaking down and poor stranded people with all their mir space station souvenirs? Eh? No-one thinks about them!
They get to float out into space and most of them die but one survives.

Assuming Kim Stanley Robinson wasn't lying to me.
Kim lied!

And who is the one?
The one with all the cute souvenirs, right?
Uh yes. Of course. *looks shifty*
My god you're all so bored today, no?
And what does that say about you, reading us, eh?
I meant with quite how.... tenuous the replies are. The mere content shows how much you're all struggling to keep the commenting going :P
This is no more tenuous than usual.
poor Tom.
Screw you, hippie!

And, uh, if someone wants to donate or find some suitable pictures, i'd love to use them. The burst of inspiration by which i was struck was long enough to write the text, but not to do the pictures.

-- Tom
pictures for? I've lost context, I'm afraid.
Well, yes but the elevator, once built, will be cheaper and thus promote the space industry. Also, it'd be really cool and one more thing Arthur C Clarke can point at and say "I invented that".
Repeat after me:

The space elevator was invented by Yuri Artsutanov.

Well, first invented; it has been independently reinvented a number of times. The basic idea goes back to Tsiolkovski, but he didn't get the crucial idea of it being a tension structure.

-- Tom
Pfft. You know it doesn't matter who ACTUALLY invented something. It's who gets the popular vote.
But what lift music would they use?
Stairway to Heaven!
It's almost worth the cost of a space elevator just for that.
it's not a muzak rendition, that'd just be hell.

Also, how long would the ride be? An hour?

To really make it cool, they'd probably need to build an entertainment centre in the elevator car - be it a Zero G gym, or a Starbucks, or something...

Starbucks in spaaaaaaaaaaaaace.
Given how the public quickly became bored with the shuttle, even ... and a space elevator won't have that blast of hot LOx either.

We can write off Japanese fandom, which is guaranteed.

Then again, if the elevator can become as commonly used as a car or train today, then public inspiration and excitement may not be that critical. Still, that's a mighty big if for something that will need public funding in all probability.
Given how the public quickly became bored with the shuttle, even

Yes, but the shuttle sucks. The shuttle is not quick, relatively cheap, routine access to space...
Watching carriages ride the elevator may be boring. Watching the elevator transform your planet's economy and your species' outlook on the universe probably won't.

The thing is, the elevator is a lot cheaper than a rocket. At present, rockets charge about 2000 $/kg to low orbit and 12000 $/kg to geosynchronous orbit. They're expensive because the machinery has to be high-performance, and, mainly, because they have to lift their own fuel. With an elevator, the carriages are reusable and electrically powered, which means you basically only have to pay for the power, which comes at something like 1 $/kg to geosynchronous orbit. Just don't try building it in California, eh?

-- Tom