The Business of Building a Space Elevator

The people at HighLift Systems are busy pounding the pavement, talking to various government agencies and private firms, looking for anyone to give them $40 million. More than half of that is needed for engineering, design and testing. $13 million is needed for more carbon nanotube composite research–in particular, how to create miles of it. Getting the funding has proven difficult, however, at the government level where money is often committed years ahead of time.

So far, it’s mainly been computer simulations, but soon, HighLift Systems will be testing a prototype climber that will shimmy up a tether to a high-altitude balloon. Also required are real experiments to evaluate how carbon nanotube composites react to the space environment, including being peppered by space debris.