Home » Now a Space Elevator to Take Astronauts into the Earth’s Stratosphere
According to a new report, a Canadian space firm named Thoth Technology has been granted patents (both US and UK) for an elevator designed to take astronauts up into the stratosphere so they can afterwards be propelled into space. The idea of taking a giant elevator instead of rocket ship into the space is considered as a bold step towards revolutionizing the concept of space travel.
The company said that the tower named the ThothX Tower will be an inflatable, freestanding structure with an electrical conveyor that will stretch about 20 km (12.5 miles) above the earth. Pneumatic pressure will propel a lift car to the top.
Brendan Quine, the tower’s inventor explained, “Astronauts would ascend to 20 km by an electrical elevator. From the tip of a tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight”.
Usually, regions above 50 km (31 miles) in altitude can only be reached by rocket ships, wherein mass is expelled at a high velocity to achieve thrust in the opposite direction. However, rocketry is an extremely inefficient technique whereas a space elevator would take less energy.
Rocket ships expend more energy since they must counter gravitational force during the flight by carrying mass in the form of propellant and must overcome atmospheric drag. On the other hand, by using an elevator system, the work done is significantly less as no expulsion mass need to be carried to do work against gravity. In addition, lower ascend speeds in the atmosphere can virtually eliminate atmospheric drag. Moreover, the elevator cars can be powered electrically or inductively, thereby eliminating the need to carry fuel. This novel technology offers a way to access space through reusable hardware and will in turn save about 30 % of the fuel used in a conventional rocket system.
The idea of an elevator into space was visualized years back as an alternative to rocket ships. However, it was considered an unfeasible option as no known material could adequately support it at such a height. The ThothX Tower design eliminates this problem by building the elevator to 20km so it sits within the stratosphere rather than all the way in the geostationary orbit where satellites fly.
The tower will also be open to tourists, opening up a new way for people to experience space-like conditions without losing gravity.
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