The science fiction dream of building an elevator to space is within reach, according to Japanese construction giant Obayashi.
The company told the ABC yesterday that it could have an elevator reaching 96,000km above the Earth by 2060, ferrying people up and down in cars driven by magnetic linear motors.
The space elevator idea has been worked over by numerous companies and space agencies in the past 10 years, as super light, super strong materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene emerge.
The premise is that by building a launching pad beyond the pull of Earth’s gravity, space exploration will become much cheaper.
It’s estimated a space elevator can transport cargo to space for just $200 per kilogram, compared to $22,000 using a space shuttle.
“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” Mr Yoji Ishikawa, a research and development manager at Obayashi, told the ABC.
He said there were excellent opportunities for space tourism as well.