Image by Kenn Brown
Obayashi Corp, a Japanese construction firm, is in the habit of breaking records. In less than three years they built the Tokyo Sky Tree, Japan’s tallest structure, and one nearly double the height of the previous record holder, Tokyo Tower. The Sky Tree being a few hundred feet shy of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, must have served as some serious competitive motivation, as Obayashi has now revealed that they won’t stop at three, or even four thousand feet.
Or even 10,000 feet. Or 50,000. Before this height auction continues any further, know that this new project will reach all the way to space, as in the final frontier. This “space elevator,” slated for completion in 2050, will reach almost 60,000 miles from ground to sky. Note—not feet, but miles. It will be able to carry thirty people at a time to a terminal station about a third of the way up, a journey that will take over a week. Let’s hope it’s not one of those cramped, awkward elevator rides with bad classical music.
The remaining height of the structure will reach into space, topped by a counterweight that will sit a quarter of the distance to the moon. The space elevator is expected to lower the cost of transporting humans to space. Though you won’t be able to jet around freely as you would in a spacecraft, at least you’ll be able to say you’ve been to space.
Such an ambitious plan raises the question of whether or not it’s actually possible, but architectural feats often seem the things of imagination until you’re actually sitting on a freaking elevator to space, wondering how technology accelerated so fast.