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Are We One Step Closer to Space Elevators With This Japanese Invention?

Credit: STARS project/DinoSato

Since the space race in the 1960s, many countries have competed for bragging rights to a number of discoveries. This friendly competition has helped develop some of humanity’s best ideas to make travel to space more of a reality. Eventually, a large group of nations came together to build the Internation Space Station.

One of the most recent human innovations in space research is the STARS-Me (Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite – Mini elevator), an experiment developed by engineers at Japan’s Shizuoka University, was launched into space on September 22 to help test technology for a space elevator.

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The STARS-Me is made up of two satellites known as CubeSats attached by a 14cm tether that is about 3 cm wide. Along this tether will slide a motor-propelled robot known as a “climber” that will be used to help test the elevator tech.
A space elevator has been talked about in the space science community for perhaps the past decade. With the continued advancements in our technologies, it would make sense that an elevator from terra firma to space would go from concept to realization. That is the hope for one Japanese business.

A company known as Obayashi Corporation is looking to have a space elevator built by the year 2050. The engineers working on the company’s endeavor took inspiration from the minds who helped produce the Tokyo Skytree when working on the elevator project.
Obayashi’s website states the space elevator “is composed of a 96,000-km carbon nanotube cable, a 400-m diameter floating Earth Port and a 12,500-ton counterweight. The company has other projects in the works, for example: the Low Earth Orbital gate, the Mars Gate, and Solar System Exploration Gate.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of the anime Cowboy Bebop, the “gates” sound a little like the hyperspace rings from the show.

Is Obayashi Corporation on track to making hyperspace travel a reality?

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