Challenges for a Space Elevator

We previously unpacked the desire for a ‘Space Elevator’ during our subdomain discussion.

Before we explore potential breakthroughs in the next phase of the discussion, we would like to unpack what challenges prevent us from realizing a future where a Space Elevator exists - is it a problem of policy or technology? What about the ROI or financing of a Space Elevator - could an innovative economic model address these issues? What do you think are the greatest challenges that need to be addressed?

This is an exciting concept for an XPRIZE.

If the technical challenges can be overcome, and a robust space elevator is built, then the return on investment might be significant and relatively quick. (Assuming maintenance requirements are low - e.g. meteor impacts and other environmental factors are insignificant.)

A small capacity elevator would be able to quickly deploy small satellites (e.g. cube-sats and larger versions), materials and components for the [robotic] in-space assembly of larger satellites, space stations, and other space based infrastructure. It might also include the assembly of space based solar panels to power the elevator with renewable energy.

(The traditional geostationary concept probably means that elevators would be built along the equator (only).)

@TerryMulligan -
I think one of the main challenges is that there’s no space (pardon the pun) for experimentation and failure when it comes to space elevators. The field would benefit greatly if it were possible for innovators and entrepreneurs to come up with ideas and test very small and limited versions of them.

Hi @Basia,
Welcome to XPRIZE community and Global Visioneering Program!
As you have expertise in space tech, we would love to hear your thoughts on challenges preventing us from realizing a future where a Space Elevator exists - is it a problem of policy or technology?