Japanese construction firm Obayashi Corporation have announced plans to construct a giant elevator with the capability of carrying humans 96,000 kilometres into space.
ABC News reports that the proposed elevator will be powered by magnetic linear motors that will propel people to a newly-built space station in seven days at a fraction of the cost of rockets.
Obayashi hope to complete the project by 2050.
According to the company’s research and development manager Yoji Ishikaw, the development of carbon nanotechnology has made the project possible. Japanese universities have been working in collaboration to advance the machinery.
“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” said Ishikaw.
“Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it.”
The benefits of having the elevator, the company hope, will include the ability to launch small rockets in space without the large amounts of fuel required to launch them from the Earth. It is also hoped the new space station will deliver huge amounts of solar power and make space tourism far easier.
British science-fiction writer Arthur C Clarke envisioned a space elevator in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise. Set in the 22nd century, Clarke’s conceived the structure to rise to approximately 36,000 kilometers.
Space image via Shutterstock