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Coming By 2050, An Elevator That Travels 96,000km Into Space

A Japanese construction company aims to build an elevator that will reach 96,000km into space — and it may be ready by 2050.

Japanese construction giant Obayashi said that robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of rockets.

It will take seven days to get there, the company said. A space elevator can now become a reality because of the development of carbon nanotechnology, it said.

"The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than that of the steel cables so it's possible," Yoji Ishikawa, a research and development manager at Obayashi told ABC.

Ishikawa admitted that at the moment they would be able to create carbon nanotubes that are only 3cm long, but cables long enough to reach into space may be ready by 2030. A working space elevator could signal the end of Earth-based rockets which are expensive and dangerous.

Using a space shuttle costs about $22,000 per kilogram to take cargo into space. For the space elevator, the estimate is only about $ 200.

Constructing the space elevator would allow small rockets to be housed and launched from stations in space without the need for massive amounts of fuel required to break the Earth's gravitational pull.

Obayashi is working on robotic cars that will carry 30 people up the elevator.

Obayashi is not the only company working on the feasibility of a space elevator, which could provide cheap solar power, provide a hub for space exploration and boost space tourism. In 2012, former NASA contractor Michael Laine launched a Kickstarter to raise funds to research the feasibility of a lunar space elevator, raising $110,353.

Building a space elevator, however, will likely require an international effort, and the International Space Elevator Consortium is already attempting to coordinate efforts.

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