An Elevator To Space
Scientists in Japan are working towards turning the seemingly fictional idea of the world's first space elevator, into a reality.
In an article in The Times, for chemists, physicists, material scientists, astronauts and dreamers across the globe, the space elevator represents the most tantalising of concepts: cables stronger and lighter than any fibre yet woven, tethered to the ground and disappearing beyond the atmosphere to a satellite docking station in geosynchronous orbit above Earth.
A space elevator could carry people, huge solar-powered generators or even casks of radioactive waste. The point is that breaking free of Earth's gravity will no longer require so much energy — perhaps 100 times less than launching the space shuttle.
This new idea is not meant to mess with the existing laws of science, but it presents a series of very, very complex engineering problems.
Japan is completely confident on the plan, and has planned to invest an amount of around £5 billion for the project.
The main obstacle would be the cable, as it has to maintain its tension throughout the length. The cable must be exceptionally light, staggeringly strong and able to withstand all projectiles thrown at it inside and outside the atmosphere. The answer, according to the groups working on designs, will lie in carbon nanotubes - microscopic particles that can be formed into fibres and whose mass production is now a focus of Japan's big textile companies.
Although I seriously doubt this idea, but would love to see it finishing successfully !