Japanese space elevator: Corporation plans lift to space by 2050

Awkward silence for a week - Japanese plan £1,000-a-ticket 'space lift'
The space lift could dramatically reduce the costs of reaching space – and perhaps solve the energy crisis (Picture: Obayashi)

















The ear-popping lift rides up skyscrapers such as Dubai’s Burj Khalifa could soon be dwarfed by a Japanese project to build a 60,000-mile elevator direct to space, where journeys for ‘space tourists’ would last a week each way.

The project could dramatically reduce the costs of humans reaching space, with tickets potentially costing £1,000 each way – and solve the energy crisis, by allowing energy companies to place huge solar panels outside our atmosphere, beaming electricity back to Earth.

The breakthrough idea has become possible due to the development of carbon nanotechnology, which could create ultra-tough cables 100 times stronger than steel – and construction giant Obayashi plans to use the cables to build an elevator direct to a new space station by 2050.

Universities all over Japan are already working on the project, with one designing robotic cars powered by magnetic motors to lift passengers up the cables.

The scientists believe that the cost of reaching space will be reduced from today’s level of roughly $20,000 per kilo to $200 (£122) per kilo.

The average male Briton could ride to space for just over £1,000, not counting additional costs such as ‘in-flight’ snacks and drinks.

The starting price for tickets on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flights is £150,000.

The company believes that the cable will be ready for ‘prime time’ by 2030, and the elevator could be operational by 2050 – although Obayashi says the lift will need to be an international project.

“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” a company spokesperson said.

“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.”

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24 September 2014 | 8:52 am – Source: metro.co.uk


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