Once upon a time, entrepreneurs were counting down to a date in 2018 when the first space elevator would open for business. NASA was setting aside millions of dollars to promote the technologies required for building that elevator. And space elevator fans were looking forward to a breakthrough that would drive the cost of space travel down to mere hundreds of dollars.
Today, the countdown is on indefinite hold. The NASA money is gone. And the dream of building the space elevator has been eclipsed by billionaire Elon Musk’s dream of putting colonists on Mars by the mid-2020s.
Nevertheless, the fans are still keeping the faith, and they’re backing up that faith with research studies. About 35 of them gathered today at Seattle’s Museum of Flight to kick off the 2016 Space Elevator Conference, presented by the International Space Elevator Consortium.