Space Elevator Construction Concept
A space elevator bridges the gap between Earth
and space via a cable, allowing people to travel to
and from space as easily as if they were riding a train.
The concept has been deemed feasible from a construction standpoint,
and it is now in the process of actually being developed.
In February 2012,Obayashi Corporation’s project teamannounced the “Space Elevator Construction Concept”in its PR magazine Obayashi Quarterly.
On Earth, an Earth Port—the elevator’s point of arrival and departure—will
“float” on the sea at the equator, while a terminal will be placed
in a geostationary orbit about 36,000 kilometers above Earth.
Management Area, Worker's Cabins
The journey into space begins at the Earth Port. The port will function as a facility for anchoring the cable of the space elevator to the Earth and adjusting the tension of the cable. At the same time, it will also be used as a base for transporting people and cargo during the construction of the Geostationary Orbit Station (the terminal in geostationary orbit). The port will eventually serve as a point of arrival and departure to transport us into space and back.
With this, traveling from
Earth to space will become
a reality for ordinary people.
Geostationary Orbit Station
A huge station with a variety of functions that take advantage of the space environment. The company is planning to construct a vertical station with a modular structure that will have excellent backup capabilities and expandability. After construction, a colossal space solar power system is planned to be installed in the vicinity of the station to transmit large volumes of electrical energy back to Earth. Moreover, since the inside of the station will have a weightless environment, visitors will be able to enjoy moving in zero gravity.
A counterweight will balance the weight at the tip of a 96,000-kilometer cable extending beyond the geostationary orbit. At the same time, it will serve as the Solar System Exploration Gate, sending spacecraft out to extract resources from planets and other parts of the solar system, such as Jupiter and asteroids.
As a step toward the actualization of this concept,
Obayashi Corporation is currently carrying out experimentation
in space to test the long cable which will connect Earth and beyond.
Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo”
Hoping to construct the cable with carbon nanotubes, a material that is both light and strong,
the company is conducting experiments in collaboration with Shizuoka University and other institutions,
who are using the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” (wish),
a component of the International Space Station (ISS) to ascertain the material’s durability in the space environment.
Kibo, exposed facility
ExHAM: Exposed Experiment
Handrail Attachment Mechanism
Test specimen attached to ExHAM
Cross section of carbon nanotube
(electron microscope photograph)
Damage of carbon nanotube
About 10 years have passed
since the idea’s conception.
Obayashi Corporation continues to work on the development of new technologies
that will lead to solving the challenges faced by society, while also making
steady progress in optimizing cutting-edge materials to enable their actual use in future.
Space Elevator 2050
the future and beyond