Conceived at the end of the nineteenth century, the concept of an elevator into space was brought to widespread attention by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1979 novel, The Fountains of Paradise. Thanks to advancements in the development and fabrication of carbon nanotubes during the ’90’s, this dream is potentially on the verge of becoming reality. With the super strength of carbon nanotubes, a cable can now be extended from earth to beyond geosynchronous orbit and maintain tension due to gravity and centripetal acceleration respectively.
Numerous concepts of how the space elevator may appear from an orbital vantage point have been shown. A couple of years ago, Alan Chan from VFX firm Sony Pictures Imageworks, collaborated with other digital artists to create a short film visualizing the concept. However concepts for the anchor structure on Earth have been unsurprisingly less publicized, despite interesting designs from artist Shane Kilduff for space elevator company LiftPort.
Top & above illustration by Shane Kilduff for LiftPort.
The Space Elevator. Space Elevator Visualization Group.
Designs based on work from the Institute for Scientific Research and NASA illustrator, Pat Rawlings. Watch the video.