Space lifts are science fiction right?
Correct. That’s where the idea grew famous. But now a Japanese construction company called Obayashi Corp. has vowed to build a lift by 2050 that traverses the 36,000km to space. thisx is also the builder of the world’s tallest self-supporting tower, The Tokyo Sky Tree.
Anything that tall will cripple under its own weight though.
The solution here are carbon nanotubes. These will be used to build the cables for the lift as they are 20 times stronger than steel. And they’ll need to be as they’ll stretch 96,000km – a quarter of the way to the moon – where the counterweight will be placed to support the terminal station at 36,000km.
The proposed car will travel at 200km/h using magnetic motors and carrying up to 30 people. So for the travelers accessing the laboratories and living spaces, they’ll have a seven and a half day journey.
Will anybody be able to get a go?
The proposed plan appears to be to use the terminal station for scientists to live and work, meaning it’s unlikely it’ll be open to the public. Mind you, it isn't expected to open until 2050. Power will be sent down from solar generators that can absorb huge amounts of sun from outside the atmosphere. So early is this in its planning stages, there isn’t even a cost estimate yet, which means it’ll be fittingly high.
As fascinating as it sounds, we'll be treating this with a few grains of salt until we see concrete evidence this will go ahead. Meantime, the topic is spawning some reasonably entertaining discussions such as this one about the prospect of spending a week travelling in a space elevator.
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