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Vision or madness? Japanese company wants to build a space elevator

The idea is now more than a hundred years old. Nevertheless, it still sounds as ambitious today as it did back then: an elevator that enables people and material to be transported from Earth to space without rockets or similar means of transport. The idea was first mentioned by Konstantin Eduardowitsch Ziolkowski in 1895. The Russian researcher is considered one of the pioneers of human space travel and was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. So he thought about a tower that extends much further into the sky and ends at some point in space. Such a building was of course never realized. The idea was then developed further by Yuri N. Artsutanov in the 1960s. However, he did not want to build a gigantic tower anymore, but to a certain extent stretch a rope between a station on earth and a base in space.

Image: Comet ISON Streaks Toward the Sun, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

An extremely long and stable rope is required

This approach is still meant today when speaking of space elevators. However, the topic is hotly debated. The only consensus is that no space elevator can be built with the materials and technologies currently available. Attempts to construct such a long rope are likely to fail. Due to the different loads, this would also have to be of different thicknesses. However, there is some dispute over the question of whether such a construction could be possible in the foreseeable future. Many voices consider this to be absurd. Other judgments are somewhat more nuanced. A study by the American engineer John D. Isaacs came to the conclusion in 1966 that a space elevator would theoretically be possible. In practice, then – and now – there was a lack of the necessary extremely stable materials.

The benefits of a space elevator would be enormous

However, there are also some enthusiasts who are not discouraged by such and similar considerations. This includes the Japanese company Obayashi. This has now reassured that they want to build a space elevator by 2050. The company has not yet announced any specific technical details. The project was first announced a few years ago. The research and experiments carried out so far do not seem to have completely discouraged the company’s engineers. The reason why the idea has been propagated and pursued for so many years should have a simple reason: the advantages of such a construction would be gigantic. Rocket launches are always associated with a lot of effort and enormous costs. A space elevator, on the other hand, would offer a direct and inexpensive connection to space – once it has been built.

Via: Science World

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