Going up: Company says it could build space elevator


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This idea has been around for years just waiting for the technology to catch up. Hope that time is soon!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It sounds great... until an airplane runs into it...whether its an accident, or intentional.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

That's a quarter of the way to the moon isn't it? Imagine standing up there and looking back at the earth, pretty impressive! Can't see any humans being able to live away from internet and cell phones for 2 weeks by the time they build this thing though, not like we're gonna have wi-fi up there, but love the science.

There are so many barriers stopping us building an elevator with our current technology though. For one thing solar radiation. Could you imagine being up there in a radiation storm? 96,000 is a long way out of earth's protection, and what about meteors. To carry 30 people for a week, it would have to be bigger than a 2-3 one-room-manshons, so at least 10 metres in circumference. 96,000km by 10m, is 960,000 sqaure kms , that's about 1/500th of the area of surface the earth. That means probably about 80-120 meteors (bigger than 10grams) hitting that thing every year. Sounds pretty risky.

Next problem is drag, actually it's probably the first problem!. Could you imagine the drag on 960,000sq km? Carbon nanotube is super strong, but also super flexi. That would be like driving at 100km/hr with an car stereo antenna poking out of your roof that's 10m high, and trying to keep it pointing straight up, no way, it's gonna be dragging on the road behind you. What speed would that thing need to be doing at it's highest point to keep up with the earth's rotation? So the top end of the elevator would have to have some kind of propulsion to keep it in line with it's contact point with earth, even the space stations can't just sit still in one spot, and they are inside the earth's atmosphere so have gravity pulling them around. Surely it would use more fuel than traditional space flight? But safer. And how brittle does crabon fibre get in freezing temperatures like outer atmosphere? Hmmmm, way too many questions.

Anyway, we may have the physics to do it, but money is gonna stop us doing it for many many many years yet. Love the idea though. Just wish they had could put that money into building better telescopes and super computers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Space elevators won't work. Michiko Kaku already proved this as part of the problem would be weather factors at various levels of the atmosphere. Plus, you would never have a stable set of cables that wouldn't flap around in the wind, or with friction. This is one idea that should have been scrapped decades ago!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

To many problems to sort out on the ground before we need this kind of thing. Also I'm not a scientist but wouldn't the centrifical force alter the the earths trajectory? Whole things sounds more like another investment scam anyway.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's a dumb idea.. what happens if there is an earthquake?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

It's a dumb idea.. what happens if there is an earthquake?

I dunno, some teenager in a 40 foot robot will save us?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I think I saw a space elevator on a Star Trek Voyager episode.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rather than building it from the earth, we will construct it from the space.”............................ sounds like it starts at some space station and not from Earth surface. If that were the case, wouldn't the long elavator shaft affect the orbit of the space station ( unless the space station is in stationary orbit ) ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"we will construct it from the space"

What, bring the materials from the Earth to space, then build down?

They'd be better off concentrating on improving the pattern buffers in a transporter system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wouldn't they have to worry about passengers' ears popping?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Probably such elevator works better when build on the moon, because there is no atmosphere and gravity is smaller.

Actually it might be better to start a simple try with 2 satellites on slightly different orbits (lets say some kilometers away) and connecting them with such kind of rope. And then let's see what kind of nasty things will happen. Might be even a big electric discharge.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wonderful plan. I'm sure nothing will go wrong...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A modern day design space elevator uses a rigid tube like tower, the cargo can either be inside in an elevator or attached to the outside and pulled up. Top of the tower has a warehouse, hotel or a low-orbit space station fixed to the tower.

The rope idea was rejected decades ago.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

What about the piped muzak?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This idea dates back to 19th century.

Discussion of a space elevator dates back to 1895 when Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed a free-standing "Tsiolkovsky Tower" reaching from the surface of Earth to geostationary orbit 35,786 km (22,236 mi) up.

And 36,000 km seems to be the limit.

Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), is a circular orbit 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above the Earth's equator and following the direction of the Earth's rotation. An object in such an orbit has an orbital period equal to the Earth's rotational period (one sidereal day), and thus appears motionless, at a fixed position in the sky, to ground observers.

And apparently Google too is working on a similar project.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This was tried in Mezopotamia years ago, tower or Babel anyone?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

tower or = tower of !!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Lunchbox : not like we're gonna have wi-fi up there

there is actually internet access on space. the space station uses that to exchange information to earth

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just a simple way for politicians to escape the horror they left behind.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Build it using concrete. I'm sure Japanese construction companies would be salivating over that idea.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They can either have it afloat or connect it to earth since in theory there should be a balance between the centrifugal force pulling it outwards and the earth gravity pulling it down supposedly be at balance tugging it from both ends. A space station would probably be developed at LEO where people would disembark and transfer to a shuttle that would travel to a higher orbiting station or the moon. IMHO they should create the earth's end at around 6,000m(20,000ft) where weather clouds have no effect with a LEO station around 200Km~300Km.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A ridiculous idea. Just a stunt to get the press to write something about the company.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Surely they have something better to do with their time than useless pipe dreams. I heard of this idea over twenty years ago and the original idea was to use a cable. It's nothing new at all! How about these brainiacs figure out a way to power this country instead?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

This is about a much deeper dream, a dream of escaping Japan. Oh wait, that's MY dream!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Regardless, who are you people to say that their dream is nonsense?

The unimaginative will strip the future of possibility and replace it with their failure to see beyond their own miserable lives.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Without dreams like this, we would not be where we are today.This project may never happen, but the inventions to try to make it work will be the next thing for us to enjoy... keep on dreaming guys!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

mmm... Well, it should be a nice science experiment. Just for thrill i support it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Arthur C Clarke wrote about the idea in "The Fountains of Paradise". Geostationary orbit is around 36,000km so I'm not following why they would want to take it out to 96,000km. Are they building the end of the elevator at a Lagrange point?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

build that thing and then wait for the first airplane to crash into it...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Could these companies not come up with tings like, say, how to have a warm house without central heat and insulation instead of this stuff?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interesting idea, but kind of like a bridge to nowhere -- where's this elevator going to take the people who get on it?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They've already got the robot elevator girls.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a brilliant idea, and Japan has the worlds best engineers who can make this happen. It will bring cheer to many hearts and healing to tohoku once we have this operational.

-7 ( +1 / -7 )

wo/man. when will s/he ever learn? s/he cannot 'conquer' space or 'time' let alone 'nature'. Does anyone want to take the world and do what s/he wants with it? I do not see how /she can succeed. The world is a sacred vessel, which must not be tampered with or grabbed after. To tamper with it is to spoil it, and to grasp it is to lose it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So many nihilists on this site. Everything we do is a risk one way or another. Should we say planes crash and ships sink, so we should stop using them? The future awaits the bold.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I read about this!

This bloke's mum sends him to market to sell the family's last possession - a cow.

Some geezer offers him a handful of beans for the cow, and like a fool, he takes it, goes home and plants the beans in the ground and the next morning, the beans have grown into a space elevator!

He climbs up to the top of the beanstalk, Jack, I think his name is, and there's this giant up there.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Whatt a great idea to send deceased persons into orbit in an elevator and not have to bury them. Just send them off into space heading towards the sun for a space cremation.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Sounds very cool and all, but a few people in Tokyo are still waiting for decent elevators in their local train stations first.

Maybe this company could build them first.

Anyway, it'd be a real bummer to get stuck in that elevator. Imagine pushing the emergency button and hearing that someone would be sent in a week. Could be heaven or hell depending on who you get stuck with.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No while America gives up space, Japan should step forward to replace them. Instead of giving money to the EU, Iraq, etc We should be spending on space. Forget about the African countries, let Bill Gates waste his money. Japan should aspera the stars! yasukuni, it is no different than when the explorers left from Europe. This time Japan needs to lead the way.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )


Thanks for the links. Very very informative.

This project seems to be the modern version of the "space race". From the Space Elevator page, I quoted below for discussion value:

As of 2000, conventional rocket designs cost about US$11,000 per pound (US$25,000 per kilogram) for transfer to geostationary orbit. Current proposals envision payload prices starting as low as $100 per pound ($220 per kilogram), similar to the $5–$300/kg estimates of the Launch loop, but higher than the $310/ton to 500 km orbit quoted to Dr. Jerry Pournelle for an orbital airship system.

Philip Ragan, co-author of the book "Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator", states that "The first country to deploy a space elevator will have a 95 percent cost advantage and could potentially control all space activities."

Let's say Japan develops the elevator, and puts it for commercial use. Even at USD 100 per pound, a person weighing 50 kilograms would pay about USD 22,000 dollars (considering that the quote above was for one-way payload price) plus accomodation, food and maintenance fees, so about USD 30,000.

With 30 persons (weight assumed at 50 kilos each), it would be about USD 900,000 every 2 weeks for sight-seeing. plus cargo for scientists, parts for sattelites, etc.

The biggest obstacles I am thinking right now are the natural disasters that could affect the earth-based docking station, and the space debris that can hit the elevator, cable and other parts of the system.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

America is going to give up spaceflight. The costs are too much for them, low taxes for the rich are more important that expanding our horizons. They do not even maintain their roads.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One of the capital obstacles is the gigantic amount of waste from human activities in the higher orbits of the earth. These carcasses of old satellites, spacefaring vessels and whatever else of a size of a few centimeters or more are a grave threat to satellites and space station nowadays. Since the elevator could not dodge this crap like the mobile satellites and stations can, the problem of waste in the orbit has to be solved first.

Putting a sufficient weight at 96000 km away balances the gravity part with centrifugal force. However, something which will remain is the coriolis force, which is responsible for the turning of cylones. The coriolis force would mean a hard sideways push for the elevator. It can be included in the course of a rocket, but for an elevator - it will be an interesting problem...

I guess the project would fail due to strong winds at some points. Airplanes are not that much of a worry, since You can declare the place a "no-fly" zone and shoot down everything which approaches (just in principle). It will be extremely hard to overlook an object of that size, therefore crashes can only happen intentionally.

Earthquakes or tsunamis wouldn't be such a big issue, since the structure would be held by the weight above. Therefore, the lower part could be done with quite a lot of flexibility. Since this would be a world-wide project (no country could do it alone), cost-saving won't play a big part. The base station would be only a minor cost factor.

The idea should never be forgotten. Not because of the small possibility that it actually becomes reality, but because of the amazing technologies which will be developed in the process. They might be even applicable in everyday problems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


So many nihilists on this site. Everything we do is a risk one way or another. Should we say planes crash and ships sink, so we should stop using them? The future awaits the bold.

I don't think a nihilist would concern him self with the safety of ships or airplanes. I think in fact he would argue that a crash or sunken ship means nothing on a universal scale, and neither does a space elevator. Humans are only a small blip on the surface of the vast nothingness that is our universe, and it is not even proven that our universe has any meaning in it self, then the human en-devours to change said universe is meaningless.

The only thin you can really do about anything is wear black and listen to Nine Inch Nails while arguing the futility of existence.

On the space elevator thing. Well I am not buying any stock in this Obayashi Corp until they show me a back of the envelope budget on the costs for getting that counter weight into space. Till then my money is safe in blue energy business. Which actually got me thinking, this giant antenna could be great for harvesting electrostatic energy for the purpose of producing electricity.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Even Scotty would have trouble building this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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