JAPANESE COMPANY PLANS TO BUILD A SPACE ELEVATOR BY 2050

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The space-elevator test equipment will be launched on a Japanese H-2B rocket next week

A Japanese team working to develop a 'space elevator' will conduct a first trial this month, blasting off a miniature version on satellites to test the technology.



The test equipment, produced by researchers at Shizuoka University, will hitch a ride on an H-2B rocket being launched by Japan's space agency from southern island of Tanegashima next week.



The test involves a miniature elevator stand-in - a box just six centimetres (2.4 inches) long, three centimetres wide, and three centimetres high.





If all goes well, it will provide proof of concept by moving along a 10-metre cable suspended in space between two mini satellites that will keep it taut.



The mini-elevator will travel along the cable from a container in one of the satellites.



'It's going to be the world's first experiment to test elevator movement in space,' a university spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.
How it will work: The company has said it could use carbon nanotube technology, which is more than 20 times stronger than steel, to build a lift shaft 96,000 kilometres (roughly 60,000 miles) above the Earth.


The movement of the motorised 'elevator' box will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.



It is still a far cry from the ultimate beam-me-up goals of the project, which builds on a long history of 'space elevator' dreams.



The idea was first proposed in 1895 by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky after he saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and was revisited nearly a century later in a novel by Arthur C. Clarke.



But technical barriers have always kept plans stuck at the conceptual stage.



Japanese construction firm Obayashi, which is collaborating with the Shizuoka university project, is also exploring other ways to build its own space elevator to put tourists in space in 2050.



The company has said it could use carbon nanotube technology, which is more than 20 times stronger than steel, to build a lift shaft 96,000 kilometres (roughly 60,000 miles) above the Earth.



The firm hopes it will transport people and shipment to a new space station.



It will also work as a port to transport astronauts to Mars and beyond.



The firm first revealed the plans in 2014, claiming 'construction will be technically feasible.'



It calculated it would take roughly 20 years to construct the cable, which would have one end fixed to the earth's surface, always applying pre-tension at the ground end.



According to the plan, a 20-ton cable is deployed initially, and is reinforced 510 times by climbers up to 7,000 tons, ascending in succession over roughly 18 years.



 The facilities are then transported and constructed within one year.



The firm has also previously floated the idea of a 'space hotel' at the top of the elevator.



The company said it would carry up to 30 passengers at a time and travel at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour for a week, stopping off at a station at 36,000 kilometres.




The space-elevator test equipment will be launched on a Japanese H-2B rocket next week

Tokyo-based company Obayashi Corporation announced plans to build an operational space elevator by 2050, (concept image pictured). It uses similar technology proposed by Debney, and seen in supertall buildings

Tokyo-based company Obayashi Corporation announced plans to build an operational space elevator by 2050, (concept image pictured). It uses similar technology proposed by Debney, and seen in supertall buildings



Vision: A rendering of a sea platform, which could be used at the Earth base for the elevator



Tourists would stay there, but researchers and specialists would be able to travel all the way to the end, said Satomi Katsuyama, the project's leader.



'Humans have long adored high towers,' she said.



'Rather than building it from the earth, we will construct it from the space.'




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