While not a new idea by any means – the first “space elevator” was proposed by a Russian scientist back in 1895 – space elevators remain a mere thought in the imagination of most scientists. A Canadian company, however, was recently awarded a patent on their design for a space elevator that would stretch up to around 12 miles above the Earth’s surface. Whether or not the design outlined in the patent will ever come to fruition and be built is another matter entirely.
The idea of the space elevator itself is fantastic. Imagine being able to to take one of the most difficult parts of space flight – escaping the Earth’s atmosphere – entirely out of space flight and instead replace all of the heavy lifting (pun mostly intended) with a leisurely ride on an elevator. That’s the goal of Thoth Technology Inc, who believes that their design would not only be 30% less expensive than the fuel required to launch a rocket, but would also be completely reusable, allowing for even further savings.
The inventor of this space elevator design, Dr. Brendan Quine outlined how the system would work
Astronauts would ascend to 20 km by electrical elevator. From the top of the tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight
The elevator itself would be a pneumatically pressurized tube, and if built according to the company’s design would be used not only for space travel, but also wind energy generation, communication, and tourism. Pretty confident they’d be able to print money on that last note, I’d imagine they’d have people lining up to take a trip once the system was proven safe, of course.
Thoth President and CEO, Caroline Roberts envisions companies working together on ways to best utilize the reusable platform. Specifically referencing the attempts made by SpaceX at a reusable first stage rocket:
Landing on a barge at sea level is a great demonstration, but landing at 12 miles above sea level will make space flight more like taking a passenger jet.
What do you think? Does Thoth Technology Inc. have what it takes to succeed in an area that many have dreamed of? If not, will we ever see something like a space elevator? Let us know what you think in the comments or on your favorite social media site.