In Arthur C. Clarke’s epic Space Odyssey, it was posited that by the year 3001, humankind would have solved many of the societal problems we face today and transformed Earth into a utopian ideal. One of the technological marvels depicted in that idealized future was the construction of towers on the continents of Earth that reached all the way to space stations in orbit of the planet. Inside of each of these “space towers” was an elevator that could rapidly propel individuals up through the different levels into space, thus eliminating the need for rocket-propelled spacecraft to enter orbit. Clarke was so enamored by this idea that he wrote an entire book called The Fountains of Paradise about the concept.
However, unbeknownst to most people, for decades, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been developing plans to build a “space elevator” not too dissimilar from what was suggested in the Space Odyssey series. Now, it appears that international scientists and engineers are poised to begin construction once a critical proof-of-concept experiment is completed.