A trip into space’s a bone-crunching, rocket-roaring ride with a multi-billion dollar price tag. Tomorrow, it might be a smooth, 62,000-mile elevator ride, cheap enough for the masses. The journey would take place on a “space elevator,” which sounds like something out of science fiction: A ribbon from Earth that lifts crew and cargo up toward the stars. But thanks to recent advances in technology, some scientists say this high-wire act isn't as big a stretch as one might think. Aug. 13-16, hundreds of scientists, researchers, and space enthusiasts from all over the world’ll gather at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus for Space Elevator Conference 2009 – an exploration of the technical, legal, and social challenges of building an elevator to space.
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