Science Buzz

Space ‘elevator’ to become a reality soon

Space elevator tower

Canadian space company Thoth Technology Inc. has been granted a patent to build the world’s first-ever space elevator — 20 times the height of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa — that will also have a tower assisting spacecraft to land and take off. It will help save enormous amounts of fuel and money that go into launching rockets into orbit and will also be used for wind-energy generation and communications.

The company will build a freestanding tower reaching 20 km above the planet’s surface. “Astronauts would ascend 20 km by an electric 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 refuelling and reflight,” says its inventor Dr Brendan Quine.

The design uses inflatable sections and flywheels to provide dynamic stability and seeks to get around the complication of geostationary orbit by limiting its height to just 20 km instead of the full 100 km, considered the end of our atmosphere and the beginning of space.

The space elevator tower may also be used to deliver equipment and personnel to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for scientific research, communications and tourism.