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Stairway to heaven? - Metro US

Stairway to heaven?

If the thinking of three York University scientists has been sound, they just might have this world at the end of a tether. Writing recently in science journal Acta Astronautica, Brendan Quine, Raj Seth and George Zhu have come up with a concept and prototype to create a giant inflatable tower that could carry people to the edge of space.

The three local scientists have come up with a plan that could be used to create a 20-kilometre tower using inflatable modules that could possibly house a space elevator and could be used for research, tourism and telecommunications needs.

“The concept of a space tether that went all the way up to a space station is if you can ascend the tether electrically or by other means, you could gain access directly to space. You wouldn’t need chemical rockets, with their danger and often environmental consequences, and you would be able to deploy much more sophisticated communications networks,” says Quine.

“It would be about 20 kilometres high, and instead of being built from space, it would be built up from the ground. We would realize this from basically using gas pressure to support the colossal weight of the building. Even in the 20-kilometre tower, we’re talking about something twice the mass of a supertanker.”

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