Speed Reads

The future is arriving

Japanese construction company plans to have a space elevator by 2050

Japanese construction giant Obayashi has announced its plans to have a working space elevator by 2050.

The elevator could reach nearly 60,000 miles into space, which could start a revolution for space travel. Its robotic cars would transport passengers to a space station for significantly less than the cost of rockets, and the elevator could eventually eliminate rockets entirely. While space shuttles cost roughly $22,000 per kilogram of space cargo, the elevator would average just $200 per kilogram.

The journey would take seven days, and Obayashi says the cars will be able to carry as many as 30 people. In addition to the cost benefits, the space elevator could help store nuclear waste and deliver solar power.

"The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable, so it's possible," Yoji Ishikawa, a research and development manager at Obayashi, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation."Right now we can't make the cable long enough... we think by 2030, we'll be able to do it." Ishikawa also noted that "international cooperation" is necessary to complete the elevator. "I don't think one company can make it," he said.