As explained in the article “4 reasons why we don’t explore space and why they aren’t reasons at all“, one of the key reasons for humanity not exploring space further is a general lack of interest from the public as there is no vision as to how space could benefit people.
Toavina Andriamanerasoa, a participant in the Copernicus I bootcamp, wrote a short fictional article to inspire people with his vision of the potential of a space elevator and how much fun it could be for the public. Here it is:
It’s 10 am, – degrees C and eerie outside. The view below however is mind-blowing, and I can see the forest in incredible detail. I’m inside the Copernicus I, an elevator that rises to 50 km above French Guyana, wearing a wingsuit and oxygen tank, ready to emulate Felix Baumgartner’s feat from more than a decade ago.
With me are another twenty wingsuit jumpers paying 1,000BTC each for the privilege of flying from the highest vantage point on Earth. Over the course of the day they will be followed by another 200 patiently waiting in other capsules lined up behind us.
John Hossegor, the man responsible for the inception (and eventual construction) of Copernicus I, did not initially foresee such uses for the space elevator: “When I first came up with the dream for Copernicus, all I had in mind was supplanting rockets for space travel and providing a way for asteroid mining companies to deploy millions of robots into space. However, Felix called me one day and asked if he could jump from the tower – since then, we have a one-year long waiting list and wingsuit jumping has become a substantial revenue source for us.”
Hossegor is a true visionary. Ten years ago when he first mentioned the idea of a space elevator the naysayers came were quick to decry the idea. It was all the more satisfying when, as Hossegor puts it, “the trolls from Reddit and the scientific communities shut up after I raised $50m to build Copernicus I”.
Today Hossegor’s company Exogalaxy is worth north of 1bn BTC, bringing in revenues of 100m BTC a year through various ventures. These include sending satellites and drones into space, operation of an international space observatory, a hotel and rotating restaurant, harvesting wind and solar power and catering to gliders and wingsuit jumpers.
It was not smooth sailing all the way however, with investors nearly backing out of the project when they saw a rival project raising funds to construct an electromagnetic catapult aptly named ”David I”. In the end though Hossegor was able to prove that his technology was more efficient and cheaper in the long run. The backers of David I decided to wind down their company and switch to funding Hossegor.
Now Hossegor is focusing his efforts to raise funds for stage II of the project: “Given the advances in nano-tech, we can now build a space elevator that would take us to outer space, and we are extremely excited about the potential applications. Hopefully we’ll support the first mission to colonise Mars!”. No small words, but given the giant steps Hossegor has made so far, I would not bet against him this time around.