There is much to be said for the way the life of the child molds the mind of the man he will become. Once there was a little Russian boy whose joy was flying down hills in his toboggan…until he caught a cold, not a cold, but the deadly scarlet fever. He fought, he survived, but at age 10 he was left near deaf and school became such a struggle that he was ultimately turned out at age 14.
And they drove him. At 16, they pushed him so obviously that his parents sent him to Moscowso that he might immerse himself in the Chertkovskaya Library, an Aladdin’s cave of intellectual wonders. As one of 18 children, the family could do little to support his explorations, but so caught up in his studies was he that a simple diet of black bread left him enough to fund his studies and experiments.
He had the time—and the space—to dream.
With the inspiration of the Eiffel Tower, our dreamer roughed out the calculations for the geostationary altitude necessary to operate a “celestial castle,” an elevator operating within a tower that could deliver man to space. While his calculations also found the tower itself an impossibility, the idea remained…
…The Space Elevator.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky dreamed his dreams from 1857 to 1935. He is remembered as the Grandfather of Soviet Rocketry and the Father of Spaceflight, as the man whose work inspired those who finally did take us to the moon, including the father of America’s own space program, Wernher von Braun.
And from there the dream takes flight.
In SPECTRE OF INTENTION,
the date stamp on Kaitlin’s contract is May 13, 2048.
So here’s to a little Russian boy with his toboggan and a spark that has flown so far:
Discount not the dreamers, for they deliver us into tomorrow.
- Arthur C. Clarke, 1985
“It’ll be built 10 years after everybody stops laughing…and I think they have stopped laughing.”
- Arthur C. Clarke, 2003, 2nd Annual Space Elevator Conference, New Mexico
References and Further Reading
The Space Elevator: “Thought Experiment,” or Key to the Universe (Arthur C. Clarke)
Wikipedia Space Elevator Entry
LiftPort Group Kickstarter Campaign
Konstantin’s Beanstalk—the Space Elevator