One of the most expensive things about space travel is the cost of fuel, specifically the fuel needed to lift a crazy-heavy rocket and crew capsule off the ground. But what if we could start off a dozen or so miles above the ground?
That’s the idea behind an ambitious new proposal from Canadian space firm Thoth Technology Inc., which has proposed and patented a plan to create a 12-mile-high space elevator. The cool part? It’s inflatable. The idea would be for space planes to launch from the top of the elevator, cutting off a ton of the flight time (and fuel) required to launch from the ground. The goal would be for space planes to launch in a single stage, then return to the elevator to land and refuel.
The company says it would be 30 percent cheaper to use the elevator, when compared to fuel costs. This obviously isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a space elevator, though this is definitely an interesting pitch. The plan calls for pretty much everything involved to be reusable, which would also cut down on upkeep and maintenance costs.
Now, just imagine how long that elevator ride would actually take.