Yes, you read that well: Japanese researchers are working on an elevator project to space. This one would aim to transport equipment in a more economical way, but also people.
The idea may seem far-fetched, but it is very real: as revealed by the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, a team of researchers from Shizuoka University are currently working on a space elevator project. If this is surprising, this idea is not new, since it was already mentioned in 1895.
A space lift project that does not date from yesterday
Indeed, it is on this date that the Soviet physicist Konstantin Tsiolkovski evoked it, just after having seen the Eiffel Tower. The scientist spoke of a space elevator connected along a cable for thousands of kilometers, the terminus corresponding to a station located in geostationary orbit.
And it is precisely the same idea that Japanese researchers intend to develop, who want to design a container moving on a cable connecting the Earth to a station in geostationary orbit. It would be a matter of conveying goods at a lower cost, but also people.
A project taken over by a Japanese team
The project will soon be back in the testing phase. The researchers will use two small cubic satellites of 10 centimeters interconnected by a large steel cable 10 meters long. The two satellites will take off on September 11 from Japan to join the ISS before being launched.
One of the project’s ambitions is to reduce costs, but also the risks associated with space travel. For example, Obayashi Corporation estimates that the per-kilometer freight elevator rate could rise from $ 22,000 today to just $ 200.
The second objective of this project is even more ambitious, as it will be for Obayashi Corporation to bring tourists into space by 2050. But nothing says that it will be easy, as the obstacles are numerous, like the capacity of the cables to support the cosmic rays or the transmission of the electric current between the Earth and the space …