By the year 2050, you may not need a rocket to reach the Moon, just an elevator.
Japanese construction firm, Obayashi Corp., announced this week that they’ll have a space elevator operational in the next 35 years or so.
Fundamental to the success of such a futuristic mode of transportation are carbon nanotubes. These cylinders of carbon atoms are so small, they cannot be seen with the human eye, but their tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel. The idea is to build a carbon nanotube cable between the Earth’s surface and the Moon and run magnetically levitating robotic cars up and down it, reported Discovery News.
It would take about seven days to transport people or cargo along the 59,651-mile journey. That’s twice as long as it takes a spacecraft, but the cost would be significantly lower.
For example, it costs about $22,000 every .62 mile (1 km) to transport cargo into space. But a space elevator would reduce the cost for the same distance to just $200.
And just imagine the view!
Several universities are working with Obayashi on the various parts. But everything hinges on the nanotube cable and at the moment, it doesn’t go very high above the Earth.
“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,” Yoji Ishikawa, a research and development manager at Obayashi told Tech Times.
Developing the elevator could lead to a boon in space tourism, an industry already growing thanks to private development of spaceflight. Each robotic car would carry 30 people to the Moon at once.