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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Ideas for radically new ways to reach Space

version: 3 / updated: 2010-12-22
id: #1284 / version id: #218
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Aharon Hauptman
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Last changed by: Aharon Hauptman
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 9 - Space

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Space technologies

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Ideas for radically new ways to reach Space

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
Several innovative ideas published over the years point to potential alternatives to conventional space propulsion and may revolutionise space travel (e.g. by using much less energy). A well-known (but hard to realise) concept (inspired partly by Science Fiction) is the "Space Elevator", which may become feasible thanks to carbon-nanotubes cables. As a potentially more practical alternative, a recent scientific paper proposed a giant inflatable tower that could carry people to the edge of space without the need for a rocket, and could be completed much sooner than a cable-based space elevator. What makes this Weak Signal interesting? It reveals technological and/or scientific anomalies; It reveals economic anomalies


space transportation, space elevator, space travel


(max. 250 characters)
Creative ideas published over the years, for example the "Space Elevator", point to potential alternatives to conventional space propulsion and may revolutionise space travel (e.g. by using much less energy).

Signal's first apperance

before 2000

Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 New ways to reach Space new/emerging
very beneficial

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

It shows possible change in a current trend: Replacing current mreans of space propulsion It is a sign of a potential wild cards (i.e. large risks or opportunities): Revolution in travel to space. Availability to drastically less costly and more convenient means of reaching space.


please specify
please select
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

economic filters (business/market interests)
scientific filters (knowledge/technology access)

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Social Public interest in space travel
Technological/Scientific S&T innovation

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
between 2025-2050 Cheaper and more efficient technologies to reach space

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Promoting research on non-conventional technologies for space propulsion

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Economic prosperity/dynamics
Techno-security, hazard & risk

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Transport (including aeronautics)
Research infrastructures
Science in society

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Strengthening research institutions and universities
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer
Increasing the efficiency and impact of public research through Joint Programming (i.e. combining national and pan-European research efforts) or the optimisation of research programmes and priorities, for example.
Fostering and facilitating coherent international cooperation in science and technology

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Strengthening the actors in the research-friendly ecology
(i.e. Research funding organisations, universities, businesses, Research and Technology Organisations, Researchers and Citizens)
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.