A Japanese Company wants to build a Space Elevator by 2050

A Japanese Company wants to build a Space Elevator by 2050


Rockets will be replaced by Space Elevator by 2050.

Space exploration has been a fascinating phenomenon for humans ever since and that’s why more and more money is being invested in this industry. Advancement in technology has lead to the development of newer techniques for exploring space and most of them have improved the efficiency of the research being done. All the inventions, like modern rockets, are tales of the past as Science has set its eyes on a much tougher mission.

Construction giants of Japan, known by the name of Obayashi Corp, have shown their interest in building a high-tech elevator that will connect Earth with Space. The estimated time for completion of this dream project is 2050. If the claims of this Tokyo-based organization are fulfilled, the dynamics of space traveling will change completely. The most important factor will be the cost efficiency of this technique as it can take people into space for one percent of the cost of a rocket.

According to the vision of Obayashi Corp, a cable would be stretched from the surface of Earth to an altitude of 96000 kilometers. A counterweight will be applied that would be essential for keeping the cable anchored in space. The company wants to build a station at 36000 kilometers above Earth. By any means of consideration, this is very high.

The approximate speed to deliver passengers to this station will be 200 kph. It will take about a week to complete this extraordinary journey. For powering, the station will have solar cells which will provide electricity. Above that, an elevator car will be used to pull passengers up space. A Carbon nanotube pulley will be used for this purpose as the strength of nanotube technology is the only reason such a venture is being imagined. About this, Yoji Ishikawa, who is research and development manager at Obayashi, said,

The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible.”

What will it built for?

30 people will travel in that car at-a-time which will be using magnetic motors for creating propulsion. The company explained this process to Australian Broadcasting Corporation and said that the elevator would reach 96,000km (59,652 miles) into space (for reference, space lies beyond the Kármán Line, at an altitude of 100km, the International Space Station is 330km, and the moon is 384,400km from Earth), and use robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors (maglev, as seen in high-speed rail lines around Asia and Europe) to ferry cargo and humans to a new space station.

One of the major hurdles in establishing something like that was the unavailability of a material that is simultaneously strong and light so that the desired cable could be made. According to Obayashi, the discovery of nanotubes have overcome this drawback and now they can progress forward. The next massive task at hand is to make long strips of these nanotubes. Right now, scientists have failed to do so but Ishikawa is hopeful that they will manage that by 2030. He said,

“Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimeter-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it.

Different teams, in Japan, are working on logistics problem to solve this problem. Their success will not only make space trips cost effective but it will add to the safety as well. According to an estimate, the price(per kg) of space cargo could be reduced to $200 from $22000. Having said all that, the cost to establish this elevator is still unknown. Obayashi acknowledges that as Yomiuri Shimbun said,

“At this moment, we cannot estimate the cost of the project. However, we’ll try to make steady progress so that it won’t end just up as simply a dream.”

It is pretty obvious considering the advantages of a space elevator, that there are many organizations trying to make one. Former NASA contractor Michael Laine also managed to gather $110353 through a fund-raiser for this project. It will also require international effort as Ishikawa said,

I don’t think one company can make it, we’ll need an international organization to make this big project.”

Space exploration began in competition with each other but it’s time that we work in collaboration to achieve the biggest milestone ever.

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