It might sound like the stuff of science fiction dreams, but a Japanese construction company has announced that it will have built a working space elevator by 2050. Where can I join the queue?
According to the The Daily Yomiuri, construction company Obayashi Corp has announced it will have built a space elevator capable of shuttling passengers 36,000 kilometers above the Earth by 2050.
The company plans to use carbon nanontubes, which are 20 times stronger than steel, to produce the cables required for the elevator. Those cables will be stretched to a counterweight 96,000 kilometers above our planet, about one-fourth of the distance between the Earth and the moon.
The terminal station, 36,000 kilometers above Earth, will be reached by cars that can carry 30 people and travel at 200 kilometers per hour. An Obayashi official said:
"At this moment, we cannot estimate the cost for the project. However, we'll try to make steady progress so that it won't end just up as simply a dream."
I can estimate the cost: ridiculously, needlessly expensive. But I don't much care: I mean, it's a space elevator. Whether this claim can actually become a reality is up for discussion—but they're not the only horse in the race. I just hope it happens in my lifetime. [The Daily Yomiuri; Image: Michael Evans]