A Canadian company has obtained a patent for a 12.4 mile-high “space elevator” that could revolutionise space travel and tourism as we know it.

Engineering students will be interested to note that the free-standing tower would essentially be inflated and supported by a series of gas-pressurized cells.  This differs from previous incarnations of the idea which relied on buttress designs or support cables.  Material Science applicants should consider why this new free standing design is seen as more practical and effective than the former support design and Architecture candidates might want to discuss the challenges of building such an innovative structure.

The elevator aims to allow passengers to reach the top of the tower in about 60 minutes. Passengers could then board a space plane that could reach lower orbit without the need for costly a rocket launch which can traditionally cost upwards of $250m per launch.  Economics aspirants will be interested in the cost/benefit model for the project with the tower due to cost $5billion to build and set to reduce conventional space travel by up to 30%.

Law and Politics students ought to consider the legal and political implications of increased exploratory and commercial space travel while Geography hopefuls will be fascinated to see whether this mode of transport will spur on a new era of interplanetary migration

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