A Canadian space applications company has been awarded a patent for 20km-long ‘space elevator’ that will help propel astronauts into orbit of the Earth. At over 20 times the size of the largest skyscraper, the top of the pneumatic tower would act as a staging point for high-altitude planes.
“Astronauts would ascend to 20km by electrical elevator. From the top of the tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight,” Dr Brendan Quine, the inventor of the space elevator, said.
The tower will be constructed from a series of segmented, pneumatically pressurised cells, filled with gas and connected by cables, surrounding a shaft through which the electric elevator will travel. Cargo elevators can also be propelled across the exterior surface of the tower.
Caroline Roberts, President and CEO of Thoth Technology, the company awarded the patent, is excited about the endeavour, believing that it will usher in a new era of space travel and transportation. “Landing on a barge at sea level is a great demonstration,” she said, “but landing at 12 miles (20km) above sea level will make space flight more like taking a passenger jet.
Of course, a patent is one thing, actually being able to pull it off… well, we’ll have to wait and see if this idea gets off the ground.
Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.