In what would quickly be dubbed the longest elevator ride ever, passengers would spend 7.5 days traveling up to the station
For centuries mankind has aspired towards greater things. And whether those things are climbing mountains, building pyramids, climbing on each others shoulders, constructing skyscrapers or traveling to the moon, our aspirations have continuously manifested themselves in the form of reaching for the sky.
But in it’s latest iteration, Obayashi Corp, the Japanese engineering and construction firm that is building the Tokyo Sky Tree, has announced plans that it will aim to complete a space elevator by the year 2050. The plan calls for 96,000 kilometers of carbon nanotube cables extending from an anchor planted in the sea, into space where it would be secured by a spaceport – also serving as a counterweight. Below the midpoint – at 36,000 km – would be the terminal station, which would house labs and housing. In what would would quickly be dubbed the longest elevator ride ever, passengers would spend 7.5 days traveling up to the station.
Obayashi Corp has declined to put a price tag on their vision: “At this moment, we cannot estimate the cost for the project.” But the JSEA (Japan Space Elevator Association) – what? you didn’t know there was such a thing? – has estimated costs of building a space elevator to be 1 trillion yen.
Whether the space elevator will turn out to be simply a pipe dream or an awesome reality of the future, only time will tell. Either way, I commend Obayashi Corp for dreaming big.