We’ve talked, a lot about space elevators on the Weird Things podcast. For good reason. We are in an exciting period of engineering evolution where our drive to get things into space cheaper and cheaper is merging with stronger and cheaper components.
The future or is now.
Or 2050 if you are the Obayashi Corp., a Tokyo based company which hopes to use carbon nanotubes to built an elevator to freaking space.
In Obayashi’s project, a cable would be stretched up to 96,000 kilometers, or about one-fourth of the distance between the Earth and the moon. One end of the cable would be anchored at a spaceport on the ground, while the other would be fitted with a counterweight.
The terminal station would house laboratories and living space. The car could carry up to 30 people to the station at 200 kilometers per hour, which would mean a 7-1/2 day trip to reach the station. Magnetic linear motors are one possible means of propulsion for the car, according to Obayashi.
The problem? Right now there is no estimated budget for the project and Obayashi brass simply hope to make incremental progress until… boom… space elevator. We aren’t sure how a project this big and this ambitious can survive a 40 year construction cycle with no solid budget. Hopefully, when I am 68 years old you can call a Double Dumbass on me during our seven day trip to outer space.