Astronauts may reach orbit by space elevator

Construction firm claims space elevator carrying astronauts to orbit without using fossil fuels can happen

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A Canadian space company has been granted a US patent for a space elevator which could theoretically carry astronauts 20 km above Earth. This will allow astronauts to be propelled into orbit without the use of fossil fuels.

The inventor, Dr Brendan Quine said "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." 

Besides its capacity and primary mission of carrying astronauts, space elevator with its tower can also be used for wind-energy generation and communications according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Official Gazette.

Space elevator can also be a tourist attraction, providing a new way for the enthusiasts to see the space and experience space-like conditions without the loss of gravity.

With the development of new types of technology and material, new avenues for space travel for individuals is on the horizon. By using current technology, a space mission for research purposes costs $20,000 per kilo to get something into orbit. However, it is estimated that with space elevator that price would be reduced to $2,000 per kilo.

Caroline Roberts, president and chief executive officer of Thoth Technology, stated that, coupled with the self-landing rockets being developed by other groups we can open a new era in space travel.

She said "Landing on a barge at sea level is a great demonstration, but landing at 12 miles (20km) above sea level will make space flight more like taking a passenger jet."

Also, Japanese Construction firm Obayashi says the firm can build the space tower by 2050, tower can further contribute to space travel and shorten the time it takes to reach orbit. Firm claims that it would take 7 days to reach the terminal station in space and that space elevator can carry 30 people at once.

In Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction novel, The Fountains of Paradise, space elevator was constructed by using cables and counter-balanced mass system.

The proximate material to be used for the elevator is carbon. The most important feature of carbon is its strength and durability. Carbon’s strength comes from the strong bonds between carbon atoms, also at the same time those atoms cluster easily.

Producing carbon nanotubes is easier today than it was originally thought. Even in a small laboratory environment with a special furnace providing 530c and by adding carbon atoms with compressed gas cylinder to the mix, carbon nanotube can be obtained.

TRTWorld and agencies