7 things you need to know about… The inflatable space elevator

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Here are 7 things you need to know about taking a giant elevator into space. To infinity and beyond…

1) While the idea may sound like something from a galaxy far, far away, the concept of building a lift into space has been around for a very long time. The idea was first proposed by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895.

2) The ThothX Tower would reach 12 miles above sea level, that’s more than 20 times higher than the world’s largest man-made structure – the 829.8 metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s not going to be light either, with one estimate suggesting the elevator would weigh 880,000 tones.

3) The elevator would provide a platform from which launching into space would be much easier and consume far less energy. The designers say that getting into space would be more like taking a passenger jet than a rocket. It could also be used for communications, tourism, and to generate wind energy.

4) The tower would be built of modular tubes of Kevlar-polyethylene composites filled with helium. The tubes are much lighter and more forgiving than modern building materials, and the helium helps hold the structure up.

5) It certainly won’t be cheap. The prototype tower is estimated to cost a whopping $5 billion and some experts suggest the cost of the helium to fill it would be more than $14 billion.

6) Thoth, whose team has over 150 years of experience in space industry design, claims it can build a nine-mile-high version of its tower on top of a three-mile mountain in as little as 10 years.

7) What happens if a 12-mile-high building falls down? The good news is that it would be built in a fairly remote place, and it is unlikely that the building would suffer a total catastrophic failure. Its modular tube design would allow for the other tubes to hold up until repairs could be made.

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