MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - Japanese construction company Obayashi has announced that it plans to build a space elevator by the year 2050, as reported by Australia’s ABC news.
If built, the elevator would revolutionize space travel, reducing the cost of putting materials into space exponentially.
The company pointed towards the increases in carbon nanotube technology, which is slowly making this dream a reality. One researcher, Yoji Ishikawa, says about the nanotubes that "The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it's possible. 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 company is teaming up with the University of Japan to work on development of the carbon nanotubes and the builders necessary to construct them. Ishikawa added that "I don't think one company can make it, we'll need an international organisation to make this big project."
If the company is successful in building the space elevator, costs of sending materials to space would drastically be reduced. Currently, according to ABC news, it costs roughly $22,000 per kilogram to take cargo into orbit. With a space elevator, the costs would be reduced to around $200.
Space elevators work by using small “climbers” to take materials along the nanotubes far enough away from earth so that the rotational energy would be greater than the Earth’s gravitational pull. A person who stepped off the top of the space elevator would enter into a geostationary orbit with the Earth.
If built the space elevator will revolutionize how we view space and our access to it. Obayashi is confident that they can make a climber capable of delivering 30 passengers into space, according to ABC.