Japan Developing Futuristic Space Elevator

FILED UNDER: Technology

Japanese scientists today announced that they are working on the development of a space elevator which will be capable of transporting people (including those wishing to tie the knot) and cargo into orbit using as much as 100 times less energy than the space shuttle.

The biggest obstacle, they figure, will be the 22,000 mile-long (36,000km) cables to run the elevator carriages. They will need to be both incredibly lightweight and strong and to provide these attributes, the boffins are looking towards carbon nanotube tech.

We’re still going to need some big advances in engineering, as it is thought the cables would have to be at least four times stronger than the current strongest carbon nanotube fiber (180 times stronger than steel). That isn’t stopping the Japanese however, they know how rapidly the technology is advancing. We’ve already seen a 100 fold increase in fiber strength in just the last five years.

Japan will be hosting an international conference in November to work out a schedule for the project that they expect will come in at a cost of £5 billion ($10 billion). They’re bound to go over-budget.

If anyone can pull this off, it will be the Japanese. With their precision engineering and scientific ingenuity, they have a great chance of making this sci-fi vision a reality. One thing is for sure, even if the elevator is never built, we will inevitably benefit from the breakthroughs and technologies developed through the endeavor.

Times Online

Comments (2 Responses):

Uh, the Japanese are doing this? I like the Japanese as well as anybody, but this has been a US-led international effort for the past 8 years with annual meetings & challenges since carbon nanotubes were developed in the 1990s. Ref: Elevator: 2010, Nasa's Centennial Challenge, and LiftPort group; Wikipedia "space elevator". Chigatte desu, gomen nasai.

Weird, I wonder what happened around 8 years ago that would push the USA out of this scientific endeavor to save energy…

Copyright © 2008 - 2018 Mark's Technology News - All Rights Reserved
Proudly powered by WordPress.