Building an elevator that can reach all the way to space isn’t a simple project, that’s because it would need to be 22,370 miles tall but that isn’t stopping the Obayashi Corp. of Japan.
Obayashi isn’t a stranger to building tall structures, the company is currently completing a 2,080-foot Tokyo skyscraper and they plan to have the space elevator completed by 2050.
At this time the elevator is still in the planning stages and the project’s lead researcher told the Yomiuri Shimbun:
“Humans have long adored high towers. Rather than building it from Earth, we will construct it from space.”
To build a working structure the company will likely run carbon nanotube cables from a spaceport on the ground that will help counterweight cables that will be suspended nearly 60,000 miles in the air. Between the cables will be a terminal station.
The elevator component would then ride to the station at a speed of approximately 124mph which would still mean nearly a weeks travel time between a space station and the ground level.
The project sounds like a fantastical idea and at this point it’s nothing more than a possibility. Obayashi must still determine how much it will cost to build the space elevator, determine if it’s even possible and then secure financing.
Sending materials into space can costs tens of thousands of dollars per pound, if the cost of a space elevator isn’t too high it could actually end up saving millions in transportation costs.