Company in Canada gets U.S. patent for space elevator

Company in Canada gets U.S. patent for space elevator
20 km Space Tower

Exploring space while seated on Earth, gazing up on screens in museum theaters or at home via VR headsets. is exciting but the top imagination-grabber is the very idea of finding a way to access space. This is the present-day realm of creative thinking over space elevators, in the use of a giant tower to carry us to space.

Scientists working on space elevators are thinking about materials and designs that can be used to access space as an alternative to rocket technology. A sign of the times is the upcoming Space Elevator Conference 2015 which takes place this month in Seattle.

Imagine, said The Spaceward Foundation, the , serving as a track on which electric vehicles called "climbers" can travel up and down carrying about 10 tons of payload."There are no intense gravity-loads during the trip, no acoustic vibration, no onboard fuel, nor any of the rest of the drama (and cost) associated with rocket launches," it added.

Now a Canadian company, Thoth Technology in Ontario, has a patent for a space elevator to access space. It would reach 20km (12 miles) above the planet. Its engineers said the technology could save more than 30 percent of the fuel of a conventional rocket— spacecraft and people could be lifted to a level in the atmosphere requiring less force to launch.

As GCR (Global Construction Review) News described it, this is a freestanding space tower concept, held rigid by pressurized gas.

In Fast Company, Charlie Sorrel had some thoughts on this: " The patent does say that the elevator could be scaled to reach 200km, but that's a little like saying that your bank balance could be scaled to reach $1 billion—it's technically true, but the execution may prove tricky."(The patent said the tower could be further scaled to provide direct access to altitudes above 200 km and with the gravitation potential of Low Earth Orbit [LEO].)

Company in Canada gets U.S. patent for space elevator
20 km Space Tower

The patent document reads: "The present invention is a self-supporting space elevator tower for the delivery of payloads to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purposes of . The space elevator tower may also be used to deliver equipment, personnel and other objects or people to at least one platform or pod above the surface of the Earth for the purpose of scientific research, communications and tourism."

Thoth's approach suggests an interesting alternative. Eric Mack in CNET wrote, "Technically speaking, getting to space hasn't become any easier over the past half century or so. It still requires using huge rockets to create a massive enough amount of force to push a payload beyond the grip of Earth's gravity." Or, as Information Week put it, "Rockets are extremely hard to launch off the face of the earth because of gravity and air resistance."

In contrast, said Mack, the space elevator uses "much simpler gravity-defying technologies to access space."

David Wagner of Information Week said Thoth is using "technology that, for the most part, we already have (to build the building at least). It uses modular tubes of Kevlar-polyethylene composites filled with helium. The tubes are much lighter and forgiving than modern building materials, and the helium helps hold the structure up."

"From the top of the tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight," said Dr. Brendan Quine, the inventor and a professor at York University's Lassonde School of Engineering.

Thoth Technology is a space and defense company in the business of services and products for space applications.


Explore further

Testing shows using microwaves to propel a craft into space might work

More information: thothx.com/news-2/

www.uspto.gov/web/patents/pato … eek29/OG/patent.html

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Aug 15, 2015
Lucky there is no such thing as a jet stream to cause wobbling. Oh, wait a minute.....

The bouyancy of helium in a structure sitting in air is limited, especially at high altitude so the ability to hoist a heavy spacecraft up to the top would be challenging.

However, let's see how this goes.

Aug 15, 2015
Heh...totally weird...end of 2009 I sent a couple of powerpoint slides with a very similar design-idea to NASA (with rockets being hauled up the inside of a series of helium filled tubes/tori...to be launched from the top. Just on a lark. One of those 3:00 am ideas).
Would be totally awesome if this could actually work.

Of course the problem (which occured to me at 4:00 am) is that the top of such a tower only supports very limited loads. Any vehicle you launch from there will have to be very light...i.e.: very little fuel...which in turn means: probably not enough to get anything into orbit.

Moral of story: Write ideas down - but sleep of them before sending them on.

Aug 15, 2015
I readily admit that I'm no expert on this subject by any stretch of the imagination. Having said that, I have a couple of questions someone more knowledgable than me might be able to answer:

1) 20 kilometers is about the ceiling altitude for a U2 spy plane, right? Wouldn't that be much too low to give launch-benefits that make up for the cost of the tower?
2) It's rigid, gas-filled and very narrow compared to its height. Wouldn't it sway wildly at such altitudes? Wouldn't the swaying make a launch incredibly dangerous? What would the impact of a rocket taking off do to the stability of the structure?
3) Wouldn't the helium slowly dissipate? Wouldn't this structure be seriously high maintenance because of that?
4) What effects would the freezing temperatures and incredible wind-chill and dryness have on the outside of the tower?
5) When it reaches the end of its serviceable life, how do you safely demolish such a behemoth?

Aug 15, 2015
1)

There's already a big benefit to be had because at that height air pressure (and with it air resistance to overcome) is a lot lower

2)

Depends on the design and stabilization techniques used. In the end only the topmost platform must remain horizontal. How much it sways is not important (that's why my design wasn't even fully connected top to bottom,). You can stabilize actively (e.g. by venting gas or via gyroscopes)

3)
Some loss is unavoidable with such a huge surface area. But graphene lined vessels seeem to be virtually helium tight.

4)

Not much of an effect. Brittleness due to prolonged UV exposure might be an issue, tho.

5)

Top down. Since all parts are lighter than air nothing will fall down. You could slowly sink sections back to the ground in a controlled way

Aug 15, 2015
"There are no intense gravity-loads during the trip"


But there are coriolis forces. If we suppose the tower is built at the equator for the least amount of delta-V to reach orbit, then a climber has to gain about 3.14 mph velocity in the orbital direction to climb to the top of the tower. That's because the circumference around the earth 12 miles up is longer, yet has to go around at the same rate as the bottom of the tower.

A climber climbing the tower in one hour would experience a 1.395 m/s^2 acceleration and the up/down motion will sway the tower sideways.

Wouldn't that be much too low to give launch-benefits that make up for the cost of the tower?


Ordinary rockets spend most of their first stage fuel to climb more or less straight up for the first 10 miles or so, and then turn sideways to accelerate to orbital velocity. They do it to get out of the denser part of the atmosphere.

Aug 15, 2015
Correction:

A climber climbing the tower in one hour would experience a 3.87e-4 m/s^2 acceleration and the up/down motion will sway the tower sideways slightly. This is about 1/25,000th of earth's gravity acting sideways on the climbing mass at 12 mph. In a very fast elevator going 120 mph, you could even see the sideways force by hanging a string from the ceiling and watching it tilt sideways.

The faster you go, the stronger the coriolis force, and the direction changes when going up vs. down, so multiple masses travelling the tower at significant speeds will cause the tower to wobble and sway.

That's also why in a full size space elevator that goes up all the way to geosynchronous orbit, climbing the rope would take a month because you can't go any faster without bowing the cable and pulling the whole thing down.

Aug 15, 2015
How many buttons would it have?

Aug 15, 2015
US patent law needs to go back to when an idea had to be working before it got a patent. As it is it seems like patents can be applied for anything at all. As a result its kind of like internet domain squatting. Whoever makes the first claim gets it - regardless of whether they actually have an invention!

Note: Im not saying these guys dont have an actual invention. They may or may not. Just commenting on the lame approach to modern day patenting.

Aug 15, 2015
A lot simpler and cheaper to just use a large balloon.Ideally,the balloon would use hydrogen,as helium is a precious non-renewable resource.

Aug 15, 2015
Maybe they'll use rigid dirigibles or hot air balloons to erect it. If this gets someone to go out and invent a flying 'O' with an internal platform ringing the construction I wouldn't be surprised if people seeing it might be reminded of UFOs in outer space.

Aug 15, 2015
Maybe they'll use rigid dirigibles or hot air balloons to erect it. If this gets someone to go out and invent a flying 'O' with an internal platform ringing the construction I wouldn't be surprised if people seeing it might be reminded of UFOs in outer space.

Yeah,why write off balloons/dirigibles so readily? They can be built large enough to lift almost any rocket into a launch position higher than this proposed tower.A large ring shaped dirigible would offer a central area for rocket launches.

Aug 15, 2015
A hydrogen filled dirigible could lift a rocket to any desired height and then the gaseous hydrogen could be used to jumpstart the rocket's flight into space, fueling a massive explosion that would safely dispose of the dirigible.

Aug 15, 2015
@Newbeak, what do you make your dirigible out of that can withstand the blast from a rocket engine?

This "space" tower does seem to have a lot of problems, but I've heard a saying that says "well now it's just an engineering problem". Though having watched SpaceX's attempts at landing on a barge at sea, not sure I'd want to try the same thing 20km up. Again how does the tower withstand the rocket engines thrust and what happens when the rocket misses? This idea does sound like one conceived late at night in a bar with a few other like minded pished fellows!!!!

Aug 15, 2015
1.) Could you stabilize this thing by making the whole tower rotate?
2.) How would you anchor this to the ground?
3.) Guy Wires?
4.) Build it on a high flat place with arid/consistent weather like the ESO?
5.) How is a catastrophic collapse prevented in the event of a sudden drop in helium pressure?

balloon would use hydrogen

Lol that has worked out well for us historically. I am having Archer flashbacks. SAFE HELIUM!

Figure by the time we get the space elevator we'll also have fusion if Lockheed Skunkworks is as into as they seem. Then we'll be able to manufacture helium right?

(Note I am an idiot and know nothing about fusion or mechanical engineering)

Aug 15, 2015
The thingy at the top is called a pie, and when it gets it up it is a pie in the sky.

Aug 16, 2015
Do it! Base jumping fantasy.
Grow a pair and use hydrogen, not helium. Big H has 20% more lifting power therefore the structure can be 20% heavier/stronger/safer.

Take Ayahuasca to cleans your mind of the Hindenburg. It's skin was painted with Thermite to prevent superheating of the hydrogen by the sun. That was known by the Hindenburg engineers but kept hidden for the insurance money. (Want instant evidence? Observe the yellow flame. H burns clear.)
Space shuttle used H, O and Thermite boosters.
Lets build this bungee tower!

Aug 16, 2015
Use H to fuel the flyers too. Not too hard to pump up there. Watch for static though. (Could be harvested for the climber fuel.) What is the electrical potential between 20kms up and ground?

Aug 16, 2015
That thing will never happen. Mainly because there are more simple and feasible versions. If you build something like this, all that you need is the minimum structure to to lift a fuel hose (still very complex, but much less that this idea). Then, a Spacex style rocket is launched from the ground, go 20km high, stay there by using its own engines (no support platform required) and refuel by using the hose. The end of the hose would need T-shape to avoid engines exhaust. You can also put some engines on top of the hose, they could also get fuel from the hose to help liftting it and stayng in place. Then bring it to the ground when not in use.

Aug 16, 2015
@Newbeak, what do you make your dirigible out of that can withstand the blast from a rocket engine?

This "space" tower does seem to have a lot of problems, but I've heard a saying that says "well now it's just an engineering problem". Though having watched SpaceX's attempts at landing on a barge at sea, not sure I'd want to try the same thing 20km up. Again how does the tower withstand the rocket engines thrust and what happens when the rocket misses? This idea does sound like one conceived late at night in a bar with a few other like minded pished fellows!!!!

The plan would be to built the dirigible as a large donut,with the rocket suspended below during the assent to launch altitude.The rocket would launch through the hole in the center.Alternatively,you could lift the rocket under an expendable hydrogen filled balloon.

Aug 16, 2015
1.) Could you stabilize this thing by making the whole tower rotate?
2.) How would you anchor this to the ground?
3.) Guy Wires?
4.) Build it on a high flat place with arid/consistent weather like the ESO?
5.) How is a catastrophic collapse prevented in the event of a sudden drop in helium pressure?

balloon would use hydrogen

Lol that has worked out well for us historically. I am having Archer flashbacks. SAFE HELIUM!

Figure by the time we get the space elevator we'll also have fusion if Lockheed Skunkworks is as into as they seem. Then we'll be able to manufacture helium right?

(Note I am an idiot and know nothing about fusion or mechanical engineering)

Read somewhere that even when fusion plants come online,they couldn't produce a useful amount of helium as a byproduct.

Aug 16, 2015
A hydrogen filled dirigible could lift a rocket to any desired height and then the gaseous hydrogen could be used to jumpstart the rocket's flight into space, fueling a massive explosion that would safely dispose of the dirigible.

Naw,with a donut shaped dirigible,you launch through the hole,bleed off hydrogen,and the dirigible floats down for another launch.


Aug 17, 2015
Remember the straws, looong straws that we boys carried as kids....pea shooters. We'd quietly sneak the tube down our sleeve while that teacher was bent over the blackboard. Helped if the teacher had a large 'target'. They we would have the pea in our mouth and tongue it into the tube and...... well you all so know how it worked.

Well this thing looks just like a pea shooter to space! Inside of that thing could be a mag-lev track, sort of. Vertical! Helical coils, superconducting, leading up the tube for magnetoelectrodynamics to propel our 'pea' to 7 miles/second.

Aug 17, 2015
A lot simpler and cheaper to just use a large balloon.Ideally,the balloon would use hydrogen,as helium is a precious non-renewable resource.


I was think the same, specially after reading Antialias answer about graphene, this would make a Helium or hybrid blimp viable...

WTF? What are we waiting to patent the idea of a launching blimp? ;)

Aug 17, 2015
Apparently according to the article Nik posted someone is going to try the donut-balloon-with-a-rocket trick pretty soon (assuming of course they can make it work, and get insurance).

Aug 17, 2015
This looks like a promising candidate too, vacuum is better than Helium no? If only we had a material strong and light enough to hold it :p

https://en.wikipe..._airship

Aug 17, 2015
@Osiris

is this your idea .. cause that is not what the article is referring to

@Newbreak
Post Hindenburg disaster no one is insuring a hydrogen dirigible. Its a nonstarter. Helium is the only gas that is going to be used in quantity to lift anything. And while helium is rarer than hydrogen, and it is non renewable, but we still have plenty of it on planet, as almost all oil and natural gas mines are helium sources.

Aug 17, 2015
This was already proposed. However the earlier version took it all the way to space. I don't think I trust this idea if for no other reason than it appears to have been designed on Google Sketchup.

Aug 17, 2015
Errr, what exactly are we worried about using up all the helium for, again?

The only reason there's a shortage is because the government took over the entire helium supply in 1960 and Congress in their infinite wisdom decided to close it down by 2015, because they were sure "the market would compensate." Blind faith in "market forces" strikes again.

Aug 18, 2015
What I don't get is how space ships would launch and dock at this thing.
I mean to reach orbit, the ISS is travelling at 17,000 mph. You're going to have to accelerate to that speed before you drop back into the atmosphere, that's going to need some super rocket.
Also docking at it.. You're going to have to lose that 17,000 mph in reverse thrust just to dock - it would be much more effecient to let the atmosphere slow you during reentry, that's free fuel!

Aug 18, 2015
Errr, what exactly are we worried about using up all the helium for, again?

The only reason there's a shortage is because the government took over the entire helium supply in 1960 and Congress in their infinite wisdom decided to close it down by 2015, because they were sure "the market would compensate." Blind faith in "market forces" strikes again.


You forgot they privatized it and sold the reserves off for dirt cheap..its not the gubments medalling. Its rich people acting through the gubment.

Aug 19, 2015
Amazing!

Aug 20, 2015
"What I don't get is how space ships would launch and dock at this thing."

There's no point in docking there. This would only be a launch platform. Landing would be on the ground.

The delta V for getting into orbit must be achieved anyhow. The thing this platform saves is punching vertically through the thicker part of the atmosphere on the way up.

Aug 21, 2015
Using He or H2 would not provide buoyancy in the top sections. They must expand, at altitude, to displace the mass of air equal to the mass supported. That's why high altitude balloons are so long and thin and seemingly underinflated at launch, and so huge when they reach the stratosphere.

In this case, the investmentscam claims the gases would be under PRESSURE. That's the exact opposite of what you want. Helium doesn't provide lift by some kind of antigravity principle that the more you cram into a given space, the more lift is 'generated'.

But, as P.T. Barnum put it, "A sucker is born every minute."

Sep 15, 2015
I have seen these 'inflatables' at huckster stands all over the place. Usually hawking cigarettes. They look like a cigarette, tall and thin with a red and black tip. Stand up thirty feet in the air they do, waving all the way. IN fact they really have a lot o problem even standing up and even more standing still. That is at only thirty feet. Given the problems Mr Musk and his company have had soft landing rocket boosters on a barge, landing them on the top of a reallyy moving cigarette in the sky borders on the ludicrous.

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