Robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of
The Obayashi company says this fantasy is within reach due to the development of carbon nanotechnology, the tensile strength of which is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable.
Yoji Ishikawa, R+D manager: "Right now we can't make the cable long enough. We can only make 3cm-long nanotubes but by 2030 we'll be able to do it."
The boffins reckon the space elevator could signal the end of rockets which are hugely expensive - a space shuttle costs about $22,000 per kilogram to take cargo into space: the estimate for the space elevator is about $200!
The elevator would allow small rockets to be housed and launched from stations in space without needing huge amounts of fuel to break the Earth's gravitational pull.
It's also hoped the space elevator could help in solving the world's power problems, by delivering huge amounts of cheap solar power or storing nuclear waste.
And hey, why not idly speculate about space tourism! Obayashi is working on 30-man elevator cars, and believes it won't be too long before the Moon is the next must-see tourist destination.
Yea, right!!! Open the pod bay doors, Hal...