Researchers suggest that a beanstalk-like ‘space elevator’ consisting of an Earthanchored tether that extends 100,000km into space could eventually provide routine, safe, inexpensive and quiet access to the Earth’s orbit. An assessment of the concept has been put together in a study titled ‘Space Elevators: An Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward’. The study was conducted by experts from around the world under the auspices of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
The study’s final judgment is twofold: A space elevator appears possible, with the understanding that risks must be mitigated through technological progress, and a space elevator infrastructure could indeed be built via a major international effort. The tether serving as a space elevator would be used to place payloads and people into space using electric vehicles called climbers that drive up and down the tether at train-like speeds. The rotation of the Earth would keep the tether taut and capable of supporting the climbers.