For over a century, the scientific community has speculated about the idea of space elevators. The specifics vary, but the basic design involves a vehicle of some sort that travels along a cable that extends from Earth to space.
Until now, space elevators have been little more than a science fiction dream. But now researchers at Shizuoka University in Japan seem determined to bring the concept to reality - they are set to conduct the first test of elevator movement in space.
The Japanese team plans to test their space elevator project using a scaled-down version of the system. The "elevator" in the test is a box only six centimeters long and three centimeters high and wide (at full scale, the box will be large enough to carry real supplies into space).
On September 11, Japan's space agency will launch an H-2B rocket carrying two mini-satellites, one of which will contain the stand-in Once in space, the motors power the box like a celestial tightrope walker along a cable strung between the two mini satellites positioned 10 meters apart. Cameras on the satellites will monitor the motorized motion of the box.
That movement is definitely easier to do in space than between Earth and space (we don't have a strong enough material to handle those forces involved, at least not yet).
If Japan (or anyone) can successfully create a space elevator, we could have a cheap way to get supplies and people into space - some experts predict that the devices could reduce the cost of transportation from $22,000 per kilo to just $220 per kilo.
Of course, reusable rockets are already making space transportation much cheaper, so by the time space-time elevators are ready for action, we may not even need them. But the fact that Japan is at least taking the technology for a test drive is fascinating, to say the least. Let's keep an eye out.[Futurism]