An Elevator to Space in the Works by Japanese Company, Aimed for 2050 Launch

Ever feel like escaping far, far away for a bit? Like, out-of-this-planet far away?

Considering Virgin Galactic’s flight to space set to launch this year, and the newly updated plans to build an elevator leading to Earth’s outer atmosphere by Japanese company, Obayashi, looks like there will be plenty of options to fulfill this “dream” location on your destination to-do list.

And imagine not having to launch into space on a rocket, uncomfortable with 4.5 million pounds of rocket fuel beneath you going at speeds of 18,000 mph (28,968 kilometers per hour). Even better. Obayashi, the construction company that built Tokyo Skytree and Kyoto Station, is working to deliver a more leisurely, seven-day trip in a robotic car that holds 30 people and goes up an elevator 96,000 kilometers (60,000 miles) into outer space, landing at a space station with residential facilities and more.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that the car would be powered by magnetic linear motors, transporting both humans and cargo at a much lower cost than a shuttle launched from Earth. It costs an estimated $22,000 (2.4 million JPY) per 1 kilogram of cargo to be transported by shuttle, as opposed to an estimated $200 (22,000 JPY) with the elevator.

With the new development of carbon nanotechnology, or thin carbon molecules that exhibit extraordinary strength and electrical properties, the “elevator idea” that was first suggested in the 19th century can now be turned into reality. Although, time will be needed to further develop and research the logistics.

“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” Mr. Yoji Ishikawa of Obayashi tells ABC. “Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimeter-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it.”

Smaller rockets could also be launched inside the elevator and sent to space at a much lower cost since less fuel would be required to break Earth’s gravitational pull.

Universities around Japan and international corporations are researching and working towards developing the newest trend of space tourism.

Main image: Obayashi

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