Going Up?


A Japanese firm wants to build a space elevator by 2050:

The elevator is being designed to take researchers 96,000 kilogram (km), or 59,652 miles, into space. Robotic cars would be used to carry humans and cargo to a new space station, and they would be powered by magnetic linear motors, which are used in Europe and Asia’s high-speed rail lines.

“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” Yoji Ishikawa, research and development manager at Obayashi, said in reference to the use of carbon nanotechnology. “Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimeter-long nanotubes but we need much more.”

Last I’d read, nanotube lengths were measured in microns, so three centimeters is a big deal. And is there any cheaper way to get into space, even just on a drawing board somewhere?