Canada's Inflatable Space Elevator Tower
A Canadian company has been granted a patent for an inflatable space elevator that would work in tandem with rocket-powered space craft that would take off from the top, avoiding the hardest part of rocket flight.
Thoth Technology, based in Pembroke, Ontario, devised a tower design using pressurized segments that reach up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the stratosphere where a platform could be constructed for purposes of communications, tourism or as a launch platform for reaching space. Unlike blasting off from near sea level, as most space launches do now, getting into orbit or beyond from the top of a space elevator more than 20 times taller than the highest structures on Earth would be more like an aircraft takeoff.
"Astronauts would ascend to 20 km by electrical elevator. From the top of the tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight," Brendan Quine, the inventor, said in a statement.
Although the original insight for space elevators came to Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895, sf writers have been encouraging scientists and builders to construct a space elevator for generations.
"If the laws of celestial mechanics make it possible for an object to stay fixed in the sky, might it not be possible to lower a cable down to the surface – and so to establish an elevator system linking Earth to space?"
(Read more about Arthur C. Clarke's visualization of space elevators from his 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise)
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