ThothX tower is a prototype of space elevator designed by a Canadian company ThothX Technologies. It is a 20 km high inflatable tower with a diameter of 230 m. The tower is planned to use as a space launch platform.
What is Space Elevator?
Space elevator is an assumed space launching pad. Basically it is consisting of a long wire, called tether, with one end tied with earth surface while the other end to the counter weight beyond the geostationary orbit(GEO). The tether will be used to transfer the fuel etc. to the top of the tower.
Description of the ThothX Tower:
ThothX tower is a tabular inflatable tower with a platform at the top. The platform will be used to refueling, loading, servicing and launching the space vehicles. If an object is launched from the tower’s top, instead of earth’s surface, it saves approximately 30% of the fuel. It will use electric/solar powered elevators for moving the matters (payload, fuel, hardware etc.). According to the proposed size the tower will be twenty times taller than the world’s most high building (2015) Burg Al-Dubai.
The elevator cars, moving inside or outside the tower, will be capable of transferring 10 tone load.The common elevator cables is not stretchable beyond 1.5 km. However the tower will be made with the help of highly inflated Kevlar cells. The tower is designed so as to outlast against hurricanes.
One end of the tether will be fixed at North-pole of earth. Where would be the other end tied with. It must be a heavy mass which may hold the whole cable.
There are so many suggestions for choosing a counter weight.
- A heavy asteroid.
- A space station at geostationary orbit.
- Extension of the wire with a net upward force equal to the counterweight.
How would the space elevator be constructed?
First of all Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky gave the idea of constructing a space elevator. He suggested building a tower up to the geo stationary orbit. However the main problem with this idea is that the whole weight of the tower will be exerting force on the parts below. And we found no material in the universe which is of such strength.
The most common thinking of constructing the space elevator is construction of a long strong cable. Due to rotation of earth, the outward centripetal force balances the inward gravitational force. furthermore the construction of the cable is only possible if we use an asteroid or near earth object as a material source. However it includes some technical risks. Hence the scientists are considering the simplest method for construction which requires least infrastructure.
How to put the material up?
The plan includes using the rockets to transfer the minimum size cable weighing 19800 kg. Consequently cable will allow the first climber to move up with a load of 619 kg. In this way nearly 207 climbers will strengthen the cable attaching more cables with the initial one. Finally a 750 ton cable will be built with a lifting capability of 20 ton per trip.
Once the cable is built it will be a revolution in the field of technology. The solar powered elevator machines will carry the objects straight up to the Geo stationary orbit. It will take about 10 days in delivering an object to GEO even if it moves at speed of 200 km/h. A typical rocket costs $25000 per kilogram in delivering a payload up to GEO, but the space elevator will do the same job for just $200 per kilogram.
The result is whatsoever the idea is fascinating. And if the scientists succeed in building such a space elevator it will give new dimensions of exploring the universe especially the solar system in an un-imagined way.