Most kids come up with the idea of a space elevator, but one firm has been granted a patent on a way to make it work.
Thoth Technology of Ontario says its 20 kilometer tower would primarily be a way to get people into space using 30 percent less fuel than launching from the ground. The idea would be to use the top of the tower as a launch pad for “space planes” which would go straight into orbit in a single stage. Unlike many launch pads, the entire set-up would be reusable. The company has talked about working with other firms to use technologies for self-landing craft.
The main patentable element is a “pneumatically pressurised structure for location on a planetary surface.” The company has also come up with a solution to the problem of the tower being buffeted by winds. The key appears to be using flywheels (which store rotational energy) to inflate or deflate sections of the tower to stabilise it in response to changes in wind.
While the structure is referred to as an elevator, astronauts would actually ascend in a electrical elevator.
As well as space launches, Thoth envisions the tower having uses in wind-power generation, tourism and communications.