Canadian space and defense company Thoth Technology is attempting to make reaching the stratosphere as simple as riding an elevator up a tower about 23 times taller than the world’s tallest building.
The Thoth space elevator patent, approved by the US patent office on July 21, specifies that the tower could be built on any “planetary surface,” (i.e. not just Earth), a sign that Thoth is thinking pretty far ahead. Thoth says in the patent that the top of the tower will serve as a rocket launch site. The patent also notes that the tower could be used for tourism, observation, and research, though exactly how researchers and tourists would get up it isn’t clear.
The patent focuses heavily on figuring out how to support such a tall, slender structure. Dr. Brendan Quine, the patent’s co-author, told the Globe and Mailthat the tower would use “pneumatic pressure,” allowing Thoth to control the lean of the tower. Quine said this would make it possible to “actively guide the center of gravity toward things like hurricanes, so that the tower won’t fall down.”