Inflatable Space Tower Prototype Assembled

An inflatable space tower tall enough launch spacecraft has been proposed by Brendan Quine, Raj Seth and George Zhu at York University in Toronto, Canada. If the tower is built on a suitable mountain peak it could reach an altitude of about 20 kilometers.


(Inflatable space tower prototype)

The team envisages assembling the structure from a series of modules constructed from Kevlar-polyethylene composite tubes made rigid by inflating them with a lightweight gas such as helium. To test the idea, they built a 7-meter scale model made up of six modules (see above image). Each module was built out of three laminated polyethylene tubes 8 centimeters in diameter, mounted around circular spacers and inflated with air.

To stay upright and withstand winds, full-scale structures would require gyroscopes and active stabilization systems in each module. The team modeled a 15-kilometer tower made up of 100 modules, each one 150 meter tall and 230 metres in diameter, built from inflatable tubes 2 meters across. Quine estimates it would weigh about 800,000 tonnes when pressurized - around twice the weight of the world's largest supertanker.

Fans of science fiction writer David Brin may recall the towering "Needles from his 1980 novel Sundiver.

...the few times he had left Earth before, rising and returning by balloon, there have been the other ships to watch, bright and busy as they floated up to Power Station or back down the pressurized interior of one of the Needles.

Neither of the great Needles had ever been boring. The thin ceram walls that held the twenty-mile towers at sea-level pressures had been painted with gigantic murals -- huge swooping birds and pseudo science-fiction space battles copied from twenty-century magazines. It had never been claustrophobic.

Via New Scientist; thanks to Erik Nodacker for submitting the story and the tip.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/10/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 7 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

How Many Systems In That Galactic Empire Now?
'An Empire to twenty million stellar systems...'- Isaac Asimov, 1953.

Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'- Breuer/Williamson, 1930.

Testing New Spacesuits In 1929 And 2015
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'- Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

Space Station Kitchens 1929 and 2015
'Plates and cups ... slowly floated down to the floor and were not broken.'- Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

eMotionButterfly Ultralight Robot From Festo
'Artificial butterflies darted along invisible beams...'

Graphene Cytobot - Cyborg Bacterial Spores May Help Astronauts
'[It] had not yet objected to being made over into a portion of an electronic system... '

XM82 Personal Flamethrower Now In Development
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Delightful Plen2 Mirror Robot - The Anti-Terminator
Time for fun, Will Robinson!

LiquiGlide Will Be Everywhere
'They poured the remnants of eggs out of their frictionless cups...'

US Customs Now Doing Facial Recognition At DC Airport
Are you who you say you are?

How Many Systems In That Galactic Empire Now?
'An Empire to twenty million stellar systems...'

Petman Robot Pushes Itself To The Limit
'There was the butler robot, hard at work, his copper face expressionless...'

Coleus LED 'Skylight' Dispenses Natural Sunlight Indoors
'How do they work it so that the sky is visible at every level of the city?'

UR3 Robot At Work On Copies Of Itself
'I don't mean that you should construct this ultra-microrobot with your own fingers, of course...'

3D Printing 'Terminator T-1000-Style'
Not quite 'a mimetic polyalloy...'

Norlin Shoe Drone Robot UAV In-Store Delivery Thing
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling.'

Bridge-MINDER Repair Robot
'The repair robots had started out on their rounds...'

Super Ball Bot Tensegrity Robot For Solar System Exploration
'Each leg in turn acted as a pivot around which the creature whirled its body...'

iSkin On-Body Touch Sensors
'Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand.'

Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.