Company will build 20-kilometre-high tower that almost reaches space

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Canadian company Thoth technology, based in Ontario, has designed a massive 20-km-high tower to take astronauts up into space. But don’t worry, there will be a lift.

Nicknamed the ‘space elevator’, the tower is set to make travel into space easier and more commercially viable. The plans have been approved by the US patent office, under it’s official name – “a pneumatically pressurised structure for location on a planetary surface”.

The tower would be more than 20 times the height of the 830m-tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the current tallest building in the world. So it’s pretty lucky that they’re not relying on stairs. Thoth Technology said the freestanding structure would provide a new way to access space, that requires 30% less fuel than a conventional rocket launched 20 km lower (from the ground). It said the tower would provide secondary functions, including wind-energy generation, communications and tourism. We can’t help but wonder what the view would be like up there.

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“Astronauts would ascend to 20 km by electrical elevator,” said Dr Brendan Quine, it’s inventor. “From the top of the tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and re-flight.”

Though ascending 20km wouldn’t strictly take the lift’s passengers directly into outer space – considered to start around 100km up – it would be beyond the so-called 19km “Armstrong Limit”, the point where atmospheric pressure is so low that water within the human body starts to boil. That definitely doesn’t sound like fun.

The other challenge the tower raises would be how to overcome the effects of wind. Thoth has proposed the use of inflatable sections and flywheels to provide what is described in the patent application as “active stabilisation using a harmonic control strategy”.

Thoth President and CEO, Caroline Roberts, said the tower, coupled with self-landing rocket technologies being developed by others, would herald a new era of space transportation. She said: “Landing on a barge at sea level is a great demonstration, but landing at 12 miles above sea level will make space flight more like taking a passenger jet.”

What do you think? Would you go to the top? 

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