A lift into space

Taking a lift to the space station – an American company is already working on the concept

In 1865, inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Russian space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovski designed a 36,000-km-tall tower at the Equator. At the top of the tower, in geostationary orbit, the speed of the tower would match the orbital speed, allowing a person to float freely away into space. To get to the top, the tower would be fitted with a lift. Of course, construction of such a tower is impossible, but in 1960 the Russian scientist Yuri Artsunatov realized that the tower itself was unnecessary. All that was needed was for the lift’s carrier cable to be lowered from a satellite and anchored on Earth. This cable would obviously need to be made from a material much stronger and lighter than anything existing, since even a steel cable a mere 9km long would break under its own weight. Nevertheless, there are hopes that in the not too distant future it will be possible to make sufficiently strong cables from a carbon nanotubes- microscopically small tube of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern. Despite the lack of suitable materials, a company in the USA has already announced that it plans to put the first sky lift into operation within 25 years.

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