I wanted to make a setting that has a "space tower" of some kind, not necessarily a space elevator (it might be a fountain for example, or even just a gigantic upward pointing mass driver).

It makes sense to build them in the equator. Also, I wanted to avoid building on water.

Also I have this notion, that maybe people would want to build at least two of them in opposite places, so they could eventually build a ring around earth to accelerate spacecrafts for launch.

Thinking of all that, I concluded that people might want to build the pair using Brazil and Indonesia, the two countries are crossed by the equator, they are exact opposite of each other in the globe, and both have large populations that could support building such launch tower (even if their governments aren't willing to finance the construction).

So, did I missed anything important, there is anything that makes this a bad idea, or ultimately, it does make sense to build space towers in Indonesia and Brazil?

  • $\begingroup$ The first thought that comes to mind is the 3 elevators from Gundam 00. The locations aren't exact but there were built: 1. Near the Brazilian/Colombian border, 2. Near the Congo (DRC) 3. An artificial island in the pacific. $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ The 3 elevators in Gundam 00 did came up to my mind :P Their location is logical if you wanted to build a orbital ring with 3 "pillars" instead of 2. But I wanted to avoid a sea elevator for practical reasons. (I am thinking of making a game, and the rules don't allow much sea exploring, thus players would never find sea-based elevators). $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Why not in the ocean? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 23:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You didn't read the comment right before yours? Again, repeating myself: this is intended for a game, and the game doesn't allow sea exploring, making a sea-based elevator pointless (players would never see it). $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 22:04

6 Answers 6


Makes sense

The equator is valuable because you minimize tension of the elevator at the anchor point on Earth. This page explain a bit about how a non-equatorial space elevator would work. There are ways to make it stable, but at the cost of increased effort while attaching the cable to the Earth.

So if the Equator is the way to go, then Brazil and Indonesia would be, in my opinion, the two best places to build it, even if other countries were doing the building. Those are the two richest countries on the Equator, probably the two most politically stable (not saying much), and, importantly, both are relatively non-aligned. That is, Europe, China, Russia, or America, or anyone else funding the elevator probably wouldn't be too worried that either Brazil or Indonesia would be strong-armed by one of other great powers to cut them off of the elevator.

All in all, good choices.


There are two points which would complicate building space towers in these areas. The complications can probably be overcome, but that will take extra effort. As a result, the benefits of going into the mountains of Ecuador might outweigh the benefits of a balanced position 180 degrees apart.

  • What is the terrain where the equator crosses those nations? At a brief glance, both have some highlands in the respective areas, but mostly it is tropical rainforest. It isn't entirely the same, but look at the problems with the Nazi building projects in Berlin.
  • How large is the footprint of the tower, and how does it interfere with other uses (the "green lung" of the planet, national parks, ...)?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ wasn't this intended as a comment? $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @speeder, the question was "did I miss anything important?" Here are two things that might become plot elements in the story if the characters miss it. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ I still don't understand your answer... I am asking for reality check. Not for characters to know things, but for people that learn about my lore to not get their suspension of disbelief shattered due to stupid technical mistakes of my part as author. $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:25

Does it makes sense to build a “space tower” in Indonesia and Brazil? In aspects of being near to the equator, yes it does!

In fact Brazil already have a launch center. And it is the closest one to the equator. Another great point is that Brazil does not have natural disasters.

What might be a point to consider, as a Brazilian I can say that if is financed by the government you will have a lot of problems. You might want to consider a outside investment on building it.

About building one in Indonesia, I can´t say much of it, except that there is a launch site there constructed with the Japanese government

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I answered the question title. $\endgroup$
    – Skalwalker
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ sorry for that, I fixed the question itself to match the title :P $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 17:18

For political and geographical reasons I would avoid to build those constructions in any country - which leaves no option but build in the sea.

By geographical reasons I mean relief. The construction would be probably massive and big in size. It will need good roads, good places for supports, no fly zone, no trespassing zones and probably etc. Would you be more specific about the construction I would be probably more verbal about difficulties of it.

Political reasons. Such construction is good leaver in politics - as it opens the door in the space for those who owns it. They will be gatekeepers. So maybe today Indonesia and Brazil are not superpowers, but with the construction, they will have a leverage about the situation.

So really a lot of problems in a future could be avoided by choosing the sea instead of a land. It may add some technical difficulties, but if they have people they can solve them, sea problems are not that big.


It matters what exactly you are building

You can't build a space tower a literal tower you climb to space

For a mass driver this makes some sense

For a space elevator this is a bad idea

What our your main considerations?

  • Easy access to ship construction site (space ships are rather hard to move)
  • mobility of the base station (vital for a space elevator not needed for the mass driver)
  • security of the base station it is worth capturing in either case
  • higher tangential velocity at equator reduces the energy need to launch (useful in either case)

Why do you need to move the base station of a space elevator? To dodge debris. Space is full of high speed debris that would damage an elevator ribbon if you have a mobile base station you have the option of moving it.

In either case you need to be able to defend this very valuable investment.


Generally speaking when building a space tower, a good first step is to start building at the highest elevations available (so there is less tower to build.)

Indonesia on the islands of Borneo or Sumatra has a max elevation on the equator of around ~1500m.

Brazil is even worse with some only some foothills on the equator around ~500m

Better places would be in the mountains of Ecuador 5000-6000m or mountains in Kenya ~5000m (Mount Kenya itself is conveniently located right near the equator.)

If you are considering a future space ring, Kenya and Ecuador combined with a future Pacific tower (I understand the avoiding water reasoning but there are some small islands conveniently placed) which would split the world into thirds instead of halves.

  • $\begingroup$ You do realize that a space elevator for example would have its main station at the height of 35786000 over the surface right? Building in Kenya would save what, 0.0125747499021964% of the construction costs? $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ Rocket launches from high altitude can save an appreciable amount of fuel. Mass driver launches up the side of Chimorazo would save a significant amount of initial kinetic energy. But a space elevator? 5000m here or there is a rounding error. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ For a space elevator groundside location isn't that important, personally I think the floating docking point proposals which allow the bottom point to move is the best option, but the question was non specific, space elevators are built in orbit and lowered, but for anything constructed from the ground up a few thousand meters is more than the tallest structure we've currently ever built. $\endgroup$
    – Josh King
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ in my question I for example allowed a mass driver kind of launcher, how much you would save by having the launcher 4500m higher, if for example you want to launch parts for a GEO solar powerplant? $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ Mass drivers also have to fight air resistance, the higher they are the less this a problem. air pressure and density is not linear. Starting at 5000 meters halves the amount of air the projectile has to move through thus halving the air resistance the projectile will experience. climate.ncsu.edu/secc_edu/images/pressureheight.jpg $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 4:07

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