The Tower of Babel
(in prophecy)

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and A TOWER, WHOSE TOP MAY REACH UNTO HEAVEN; and ET US MAKE US A NAME,:(Genesis 11:4)

The following is a quote from Popular Mechanics magazine.

In the not-too-distant future, riding into space in a rocket may seem as impractical as crossing the continent in a Conestoga wagon. Rockets will still be used for the long trips to the outer planets and stars, but for short hops - jobs in zero-gravity laboratories and vacations on the moon - we will simply take the elevator. The first stop will be a massive zero-gravity platform.

The "roof" will be a captured asteroid that anchors the tower in place. You'll have to hang on tight as you near the end of the ride. If you don't, the same laws of physics that carried David's rock into Goliath's head will propel you as far as Saturn.

"It is a historically apt analogy. The idea of building a tower into space dates back to some of the earliest known manuscripts," says David Smitherman. NASA's point man for advanced space flight concepts, he reminds us that the original space tower, better known as the Tower of Babel, was already "an old story when told in the Bible's book of Genesis."

It has been dreamed, invented and reinvented many times throughout modern civilization. Two decades before Arthur C. Clarke's 1979 novel, The Fountains Of Paradise, introduced the space elevator to the English-speaking world, Russian engineer Yuri Artsutanov described it in a Sunday supplement article in the old Soviet newspaper Pravda. The idea remained suspended between science fact and science fiction until three years ago.

A group of researchers from several top engineering schools and aerospace companies, along with NASA scientists, met at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to consider the technological hurdles to building a space elevator. Their conclusion: "in the later part of the 21st century it has the potential to provide mass transportation to space in the same way highways, railroads, power lines and pipelines provide mass transportation across the Earth's surface." Since that 1999 conference, improvements in materials have occurred with rocket-sled speed. Some readers of this article may live to follow POPULAR MECHANICS'S coverage of the elevator's construction and the report on our first ride.

July 2002, Page 73