Thoth Technology, a Canada-based company, recently announced that it patented a 12.4-mile-tall ‘space elevator’ designed to take people and loads closer to our planet’s lower-orbit, thus, saving a lot of fuel and energy in the process.
The concept is not new, people have dreamed about a super tall tower to help them reach the heavens for millennia. Some Sci-Fi flicks touted the idea, but everybody knew that such gargantuan structure could not possibly exist in reality.
Experts believe that Thoth’s endeavor is just the beginning of an era where man could travel to space and back without the need of an expensive spacecraft.
A space elevator “is still rather an academic idea, rather than something we’re going to start building next week,” argued Ted Semon, head of the International Space Elevator Consortium, a non-for-profit group which has promoted the idea since its creation seven years ago.
Rocket scientists have been dreaming for decades of a space tower or elevator that would drastically cut launch costs of conventional space crafts during space exploration missions. They have even envisioned a ‘space elevator’ as a 22,360-mile-long giant cable linking the Earth’s equator with a counterweight placed beyond low-orbit.
Researchers explained that the gravitational pull at the lower end and the centrifugal force at the superior end would help the cable remain tense and not loosen up. But that, however, is only a theory.
Ontario-based Thoth Technology says that it has a more practical solution. The company’s engineers proposed an inflatable tower that could allow an elevator carry heavy loads 12.4 miles up into the atmosphere. And from that point on, the loads could be carried further into Earth’s lower orbit.
The company explained that the tower would be based on inflatable Kevlar technology and helium or hydrogen gas. Kevlar is a very strong and light material that it is five time tougher than steel. Law enforcement already uses the material for bullet proof body armors, while some race cars use it as a replacement of steel in their tires.
The elevator would be so sturdy that it could lift all sorts of loads from communications satellites to spacecrafts. Also, the Canadian company may even monetize it more by allowing tourists on the platform. Yet, critics argued that the structure is improperly called a space elevator because a spacecraft still needs to be launched from its top to reach lower-orbit.
Canadians also announced that they hope to build a 1,640-yard high base of the tower by 2020. Brendan Quine, the engineer who envisioned the space elevator displayed a 22-foot-tall model of the tower at York University, in Toronto, Canada, five years ago.
Image Source: CBC.ca
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