Image of NASA space elevator concept.
Slightly claustrophobic and not keen on heights, the notion of spending days or weeks in an elevator — even if it took me to a totally rad space station with a swimming pool and free drinks — makes me feel a little queasy. But the space elevator concept is a serious one, and it’s been taken up by the Japan Space Elevator Association who is holding a conference this November to map out their *exact* and quite serious-faced plans to win the space elevator race. Sayeth Telegraph UK:
Japanese scientists are attempting to build a lift that will take passengers 62,000 miles into space. The project could see the realisation of a vision that has inspired science fiction writers for generations.
The lift’s carriages, which will themselves require new feats of engineering, would move up and down 22,000 mile-long cables. Those cables would need to be stronger and lighter than any material ever woven.
They would be anchored to the ground and disappear into the sky, eventually reaching a satellite docking station orbiting above the Earth.
Scientists hope that as well as carrying human passengers, the carriages could also haul huge, solar-powered generators that could power homes and businesses back on Earth. It could also remove barrels of nuclear waste, dumping them into space.
“Just like travelling abroad, anyone will be able to ride the elevator into space,” Shuichi Ono, chairman of the Japan Space Elevator Association, told The Times.
Japan’s promise to spend £5 billion on the project has sparked swift reaction from other quarters: several competing space lift projects are now believed to be under way, with Nasa among those involved. (…read more, via Engadget)