Japan's plans for a working space elevator by 2050

Japan's plans for a working space elevator by 2050

Going up?

Japanese construction company The Obayashi Corporation has announced ambitious plans to build an elevator that goes all the way into outer space

All going to plan, a new space 'elevator' – rather than the previously reported space balloon – should be finished by 2050 and will stretch a staggering 96,000km, allowing for humans and cargo to be (relatively) cheaply transported to a new space station.

Space elevators have long been dreamed about by science fiction writers and film directors, but until recently they weren't possible due to the world not having material strong enough to make them, meaning they would basically collapse due to extreme gravitational pressures. Scientists now believe that it could now be achieved with the use of 'carbon nanotubes'.

"The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it's possible," said research and development manager Yoji Ishikawa. "Right now we can't make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more... we think by 2030/2050 we'll be able to do it."