Carmen’s Professor Talks About the First Space Elevator

Me and Prof. Lilliesleaf

Me and Prof. Lilliesleaf

Today in Lunar Studies was fun. Professor Lilliesleaf brought in a dozen little remote control cars that are replicas of the ones that the various corporations and entrepreneurs used before any actual people set foot here. (Well, besides the Apollo astronauts, but that’s ancient history.) Anyways, the prof put this huge metal plate on the floor. It had a helium balloon tied to it with a string. She explained how the first space elevator was built by dropping down a spiked plate from orbit on a carbon nanotube ribbon. Then she spilled out a basket full of little foam marshmallows, which represented the lunar regolith. Some of us got to control the little bulldozers and pile the foam onto the plate, weighing it down more. The prof let out the ribbon little by little, until the balloon reached the ceiling. It’s hard to wrap my head around how it works…with a big counter-weight out in just the right orbit so the ribbon is actually in danger of being pulled up up and away.

The neatest part was the climber. When I took the elevator down to the surface last month we had all the comforts of long-distance travel. They served meals and snacks, and the view itself was worth the trip. The little robot climber the prof had was like the original elevator, only big enough to ferry rocks up to the science station. It took forever in those days. I’m glad the modern elevators only take a few hours.

Mom: No, I didn’t go over my credit limit on the shopping trip. Yes, I do have new clothes appropriate for school, and a little black dress I can wear when I need to be a little fancy. Such an occasion has not come up, but it’s nice to be prepared.

As for Dad’s request: Yes, there are public observation windows on all sides of The Cube , but I don’t think anyone outside can see in, whether you’re on the regolith or looking through a telescope from Earth.  Besides, Earth is practically straight overhead from where I am. There are a few sky-watching places in the top level, but I’m pretty sure you can’t see in. You’ll have to wait until I finally go out on the surface for me to wave at you.

To answer Aunt Peggy’s unspoken hint: Yes, I still have every intention of coming home again, even though I am completely in love with everything up here.

Love to you all,

Carmen

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