20-km-high space elevator a reality soon

Toronto, Aug 17 (IANS) A Canadian firm has been granted a US patent to build the world’s first-ever space elevator — 20 times the height of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa — that will also have a tower assisting spacecrafts to land and take off.

Ontario-based Thoth Technology has already outlined plans for an elevator to space that will help save enormous amount of fuel and money that go into launching rockets into orbit, Daily Mail reported.

The company will build a freestanding tower, reaching 20 km above the planet’s surface.

“Astronauts would ascend 20 km by an electric 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 refuelling and reflight,” its inventor Dr Brendan Quine was quoted as saying.

The elevator will also be used for wind-energy generation and communications.

According to Caroline Roberts, president and chief executive officer of Thoth, the space tower will also include self-landing rocket technologies to herald a new era of space transportation.

“Landing on a barge at sea level is a great demonstration, but landing at 20 km above sea level will make space flight more like taking a passenger jet,” he was quoted as saying.

The Thoth design reportedly uses inflatable sections and flywheels to provide dynamic stability.

The design seeks to get around the complication of geostationary orbit by limiting its height to just 20 km instead of the full 100 km, considered the end of our atmosphere and the beginning of space.

“The present invention is a self-supporting space elevator tower for the delivery of payloads to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purposes of space launch,” the patent document read.

“The space elevator tower may also be used to deliver equipment, personnel and other objects or people to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purpose of scientific research, communications and tourism,” it added.

The idea of a space elevator was first proposed by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895.

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