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When Arthur Clarke first verbalized his idea of building an elevator so big to access the space, all people did was laugh at him. However, the dream of space lift has been with man since very old times.
A Space Elevator is a hypothetical structure which is able to lift objects from the earth’s surface vertically up a high-strength cable into suborbital or orbital space. The lower platform being located on the equator of earth’s surface and the top of the elevator might be standing free (in the case of a suborbital elevator) or it could be attached to an orbiting platform which acts as a balance to keep the intermediary cable straight (in an ex orbital elevator).
Although an actual space lift is far from reality, a firm in Canada has bagged the patent of first ever space elevator. This space elevator conceptualized by the Thot technology is supposed to elevate cargo 12.4 miles into the stratosphere from where it can be launched easily. The Thot technologies claim that, the lift when completed would reduce the cost of space flights by around one third of the present cost because shuttles would no more need to carry enormous amounts of fuel to get them off the ground. Even though it does not go all the way to space, it is still 20 times taller than the current highest manmade structure.
Engineers believe that space elevators would be unfeasible because no material exists which could support itself at this great height. However, diamonds Nano-threads have been suggested.
As per Obayashi, a Japanese company, advancement of carbon nano technology could be used to make a space lift. This space lift could travel almost hundred thousand kilometers in just 7 days and could carry upto 30 people. This would reduce the cost of transportation of material / satellite from $22,000 per kilo to about $200 per kilo in space.
Even though space lift is still a very raw and farfetched concept, small steps have begun towards building a celestial road for joyrides. Many big institutes like NASA and others are racking their brains for it. The coming years might actually see Arthur Clarke’s dream coming into reality.