A newly patented design for facilitating rocket launches envisages the construction of a 20 kilometre tall “space tower” extending all the way into the Earth’s stratosphere.
Engineers in Canada have produced a new design for a space elevator that could provide a direct physical connection between the Earth's terrestrial occupant and outer space.
Ontario-based space and defence company Thoth Technology has obtained a patent for a new space elevator that if built would extend for distance of 20 kilometres from the service of the earth, dwarfing the tallest of today's skyscrapers, or even any of our planet's loftiest geological features.
The elevator would consist essentially of an inflatable freestanding tower held in place by means of pressurised gas.
The structure dubbed the "ThothX Tower" would consist of modular tubes made from Kevlar-polyethylene composite, which is much lighter than other building materialsThese tubes would in turn be filled with helium which would help to keep the space tower suspended in position.
While the concept of a 20 kilometre tall human-made structure appears sounds like something straight from the pages of an outlandish science-fiction plot, the patented design for the most part employs existing technology for the construction of buildings.
According to the patent document the document would be used to help put space vessels beyond the confines of the Earth's immediate gravitational pull, saving as much as 30 per cent in fuel compared to a conventional rocket launch.
"The present invention is a self-supporting space elevator tower for the delivery of payloads to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purposes of space launch," reads the document. "The space elevator tower may also be used to deliver equipment, personnel and other objects or people to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purpose of scientific research, communications and tourism."
At the core or mounted on the shaft the structure would be a system of pressurised cars capable of delivering as much as 10 tonnes of cargo to the top of the tower, for launch into space from a platform erected at its apogee.
While 20 kilometres already sounds like an absurdly exorbitant height for a vertical built structure moored to the surface of the earth, according to the patent the design is scalable, and could theoretically be extended to a distance of as much as 200 kilometres by exploiting the gravitation potential of Low Earth Orbit.