Obayashi Corporation, a Japanese construction company, has unveiled lofty plans to build an elevator into Space by the year 2050. The company hopes to build a space station 36,000 km (around 22,500 miles) above Earth complete with a solar-powered nanotube pulley. The carbon nanotube technology, which is more than 20 times stronger than steel, will carry up to 30 passengers and travel at a speed of 200-km per hour. The week-long journey will eventually allow visitors to step off onto the space station, which houses laboratories and living spaces. Satomi Katsuyama, the project’s leader, said of the plans:
Humans have long adored high towers. Rather than building it from the earth, we will construct it from the space.
Obayashi, famous for its work on Japan’s tallest structure, the Tokyo Sky Tree, have not yet provided an estimate of the project nor plans to find a funding source. However, the company may face some competition, especially from NASA researchers who released reports more than a decade ago citing the potential of carbon nanotubes to make space travel possible. NASA has also sponsored the Space Elevator Games, a contest to develop ideas for this sci-fi project.