Next Big Thing – space lifts

They might call it an elevator, but regardless of the wording, it’s a pod that’ll take you into space by 2050

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 that traverses the 36,000km to space by 2050. And coming from the builder of the world’s tallest self-supporting tower, The Tokyo Sky Tree, it may just pull it off.

Anything that tall will cripple under its own weight though.

Not if it’s made from 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. Luckily the car will travel at 200kph 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 – and you thought your commute was bad.

Will anybody be able to get a go?

It sounds like the plan is to use the terminal station for scientists to live and work, meaning it’s unlikely it’ll be open to the public. But since it won’t open until 2050 you can probably train as a scientist between now and then. And you can feel good about helping the earth-bound folk below as 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.

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