This blog has mentioned the possibility of a space elevator a few times before, but it is a topic that brings a number of questions without answers. Anything being said about space elevators can be deemed fantasy, especially when you consider how prevalent the subject is in the science fiction world. However, if you read this blog, you know that
An article from Mother Nature Network says that one Japanese company is hard at work developing an operational space elevator focused on passenger travel into orbit. This is different from previous articles citing space elevators being used as delivery systems for space station supplies. The company, Obayashi Corp, is aiming to have such an elevator installed by 2050:
“In Obayashi’s vision, a cable would be stretched from a spaceport on Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 60,000 miles (96,000 km), or about one-quarter of the distance between our planet and the moon. A counterweight at its end would help “anchor” the cable in space.”
The proposed elevator would have to be very technologically advanced, with a proposed speed of 124 mph, bringing them to a space station in 7 – 8 days. Once there, passengers would stay in a space station equipped with living quarters. The article says space elevators aren’t a reality because the construction materials need certain specifications:
“One major hurdle has been finding a material strong and light enough to build the incredibly long cable. Obayashi’s optimism is fueled partly by its belief that a suitable material has finally been identified — tiny cylindrical structures called carbon nanotubes, which were first developed in the 1990s.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the proposed space elevator construction would be the ability to produce solar power which could be transmitted back to Earth. It may be a bit more complicated than home elevator installation, but I think a space elevator would be seriously cool.