The paper examines the feasibility of what it says is a “newly-designed, whole-space elevator system, including its construction process.” The completed elevator is to have a capacity to simultaneously carry up to eight 100-ton climbers 12,000 km apart, with payload capacity of 70 tons each. It is composed of a 60,000-mile-long (96,000 km) carbon-nanotube cable, a 1,312-ft-dia floating Earth Port and a 12,500-ton counterweight at the space end that is comprised of the spaceship and cable climbing machines used to make the 510 ascents required to lay-up the finished cable. Finishing the cable should take 18 years and five months.
According to the plan, a pair of 20-ton cables are deployed initially, reeled out from a spacecraft constructed, fueled and supplied in low earth orbit (23,750 km) by a series of seven Delta Class rocket launches. The spaceship then lifts itself to geostationary earth orbit (36,000 km) and begins cable deployment. One end of the cable descends towards an anchorage on Earth’s Equator, guided and controlled by thrusters, while the spacecraft ascends with the rest of the cable to its final elevation of 96,000 km. The spacecraft becomes the first element of the counterweight and part of the eventual Solar System Exploration Gate.
Once the cable is finished, the construction would begin on waypoint facilities installed along the length, including research and training centers at the points where gravity is equivalent to that of the moon and Mars, and “gates” strategically placed for efficient launch of craft bound to Mars or solar system exploration.
A companion project is to use the space elevator to construct and operate a space solar power system at GEO with an output of 5 GW and a mass of 50,000 tons. The Obayashi planners believe the initial construction cost of the elevator can be recouped in about 30 years by the proceeds from the solar power energy delivered to Earth by a laser and microwave relay.
“This would mean that all other space transportation would benefit from the significantly lower operational cost of the space elevator, which would be roughly one-hundredth of that of conventional launches,” the authors state.
Contacted for an update, Obayashi spokesman Junichi Tanaka says “There is no concrete activity for the project at this stage, however, the R&D team is continuously making presentations in various conferences and forums. And in this August the R&D team joined "SPEC 2014", the competition of the Climber of Space Elevator, held by Japan Space Elevator Association.”
The International Space Elevator Consortium, based in Cupertino, Calif., promotes the development, construction and operation of a Space Elevator (SE) Infrastructure as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity. The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is composed of individuals and organizations from around the world who share a vision of humanity in space.
ISEC is gathering groups from around the globe to bring space elevator issues forward. Founding members, including both the Spaceward and EuroSpaceward Foundations, strive for a general expansion of space exploration. Groups such as the Space Elevator Reference, the Space Elevator Blog and the Space Elevator Conference Organizing Committee all have a long history in the realm of Space Elevators. The Japan Space Elevator Association also holds the goal of building a Space Elevator as soon as feasible.