Japanese Firm Plans Space Elevator

Mammoth device would carry passengers more than 22K miles into the sky

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 22, 2012 9:42 AM CST

(Newser) – Obayashi Corp. likes building tall towers—it's days from completing a 2,080-foot skyscraper in Tokyo— and now it's working on the granddaddy of them all: A "space elevator" that could carry people 22,370 miles into the air. On Monday, the company announced that it was working on a plan for the lift, which it believes it can produce by 2050, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports. "Humans have long adored high towers," the project's lead says. "Rather than building it from Earth, we will construct it from space."

The company would run carbon nanotube cables from a spaceport on the ground to a counterweight suspended almost 60,000 miles in the air, with a terminal station suspended between them. An elevator would ride to the station at about 124mph, meaning it would take just over a week to reach the station. Still, the AFP cautions that the project is still only conceptual; the company doesn't yet know where it would be built, how much it would cost, or who would fund it.

A robot climbs a cable suspended from a helicopter in the Space Elevator Games at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Nov. 4, 2009. NASA is also working on the space elevator concept.
A robot climbs a cable suspended from a helicopter in the Space Elevator Games at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Nov. 4, 2009. NASA is also working on the space elevator concept.   (AP Photo/NASA, Tom Tschida)
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