Summary of Mark Dodrill (ISEC History Committee) Interview with Graham Templeton (Technical Writer and Author, Vancouver, BC)
(by Mike Hall)
Graham has covered many space conferences that have aroused his interest in Space Elevators. He has also had a story published featuring a Space Elevator. When attending these conferences the issue of launch costs raises awareness of Space Elevators as a solution.
His interest in Space Elevators reflects his love of huge projects and the furthering of humanity. He feels international co-operation on such projects reduces the prospects of war, for example, Russia and the US co-operate closely on supporting the ISS. Building the Space Elevator would “require international co-operation and interaction in a non-combative way”. The model for co-operation could be CERN with funding from government and the private sector. Graham does not think the private industry alone would direct it.
When describing the Space Elevator to others there is a great deal of skepticism. Graham suggests that a small scale; low orbit “demonstration model” tether would help convince the skeptics of its practicality. He suggests that initially people would be attracted by the possibility of tourism. There would be opportunities to install instruments and experiments at the top “which would be in permanent geo-synchronous orbit. The tether would eliminate the need to worry about a propulsion system and keeping the platform in orbit.”
Graham further suggests that focus should not just be on the first steps but also long term objectives should be kept in view. Existing kilometer long tethers are already available and could be used for a prototype project. For instance, extending a five kilometer carbon nano-tube tether, perhaps for weather forecasting would be “another way to show people that this is a huge project but it’s also grounded”.
The most common question he gets asked is “How is it attached to the Earth?”.