Part Three

A Lost Monument in the Sea

There were others that were fascinated by this article, even if the journalist wasn't one of them.  Dr. Carlos Gunn, the chief director of NASA as the space program was struggling catch rides on Russian space capsules saw an opportunity for his agency.  He could see opportunity for the U.S. to get back into space, and to keep going back to stay.  He could see a way that it even had the possibility of making back the enormous price tag.  Dr. Gunn eyes glazed over with cartoon dollar signs practically seeing the huge profits for licensing to companies looking to get their satellites up into orbit and to maintain existing satellites. 

 

Space elevator technology contributing to other incredible advances and innovations tempted Dr. Gunn.  There was the possibility of multiple solar radiation catchers, miles across, catching sunlight twenty four hours a day and beaming energy back to earth constantly.  With a global electrical grid sharing this constant stream of pure energy on beams of light would mean there would no longer be a need to deplete the natural resources of the earth.  There could be free energy across the planet for every living person and it could all stem from a single, massive project. At least, that was the hope.

 

Dr. Gunn knew there would be backlash for putting oil and gas and coal companies permanently out of business.  Well, at least that’s how the companies would frame it.  They would act as though they were incapable of changing focus and using their business acumen and financial resources toward altering their industries.  Regardless of whether corporate interests could legitimately change their ways or not, Dr. Gunn knew that revealing too much of his scientific aspirations could jeopardize the whole program.

 

In a matter of days Dr. Gunn and a few other scientists in the program devised a plan for a new fully-funded laboratory in the NASA complex with a full complement of experts to further the goal of building a space elevator.  They would need a material strong enough to support the cables of the space elevator for hundreds of miles without stretching or breaking.  They decided that if their research in the material could be justified by an alternate public purpose there would be less corporate pushback.  This would be a suitable alibi for the funding they were asking to start the project.  As the project was starting, this seed of an investment made it easier to ask Congress for additional funding as other uses for the technology were “discovered.”  And so, the Pacific Space Elevator started its life as development for a stronger, faster, and more durable undersea cable meant to expand internet access around the world.

 

The internet and telephone companies of the world salivated at this proposed project and vigorously lobbied congress for the NASA funding to be met, even exceeded.  NASA justified their involvement in the project by subtly rebranding from a space agency to a scientific exploration agency.  "Hey, we're all smart guys here" was their new public motto.  At this time, Dr. Gunn searched from university campuses to internet discussion boards to find a team of innovative and creative minds, many of whom were unknown personalities to major scientific entities at the time.  He hired a team of oddball thinkers and creators as well as skilled engineers capable of doing the incredible hands-on work to come.

It was that time before sunset.  The time when colors changed to a rich golden shimmer and the ocean had a rippling golden streak from the sun skipping off the edge of the earth.  It was a beautiful time of day, but from Dave’s window seat it was just pee everywhere: on the ocean, in his stomach, nearly out his ears, sloshing around in the large water bottle from the overly casual man sitting next to him.  The overly casual man wore shorts and flip-flops.  Don’t even look at him, maybe he’ll go away, Dave thought.  But the man kept raising his large clear bottle of sloshing water over his head with pride with every guzzling sip.  Look away, Dave thought.  He focused his gaze out the window averting his eyes from the flip-flopped man above the horizon to the Pacific Space Elevator.

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