Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. It isn’t built yet.

But if York space scientists and engineers have anything to say about it, it sure will be.

Check it out from our internal newsletter, Space elevator designed at York University would reach 20 km above Earth:

“For decades, scientists have been grappling to find a more efficient means of getting payloads into space,” says Brendan Quine (right), professor of space physics and engineering in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, who is heading the project. A paper detailing the design was recently published in the journal Acta Astronautica; it is co-authored by York space engineering Professor George Zhu and graduate student Raj Seth.

“Rocketry is an extremely inefficient way of getting equipment into space,” Quine says. “In the initial stages of flight, you’re wasting an enormous amount of energy fighting gravity and atmospheric drag.”

Constructed from Kevlar, the free-standing structure would use pneumatically-inflated sections pressurized with lightweight gas such as hydrogen or helium, to actively stabilize itself and allow for flexibility. A series of platforms or pods, supported by the elevator, would be used to launch payloads into Earth’s orbit.

Payloads will include space tourists, of course!

Their article in Acta Astronautica is A free-standing space elevator structure: A practical alternative to the space tether. Prof. Quine also has a patent here with a lot of the same information as the article.

The article is also available in our institutional repository, YorkSpace, here. (Thanks, Andrea!)

This is very cool and I’m very happy to shout it out to the world. It’s a huge bonus for me that both Ben Quine and George Zhu are big library supporters too!

(Coverage in the Toronto Star from Monday.)


  1. #1 Romeo Vitelli
    June 17, 2009

    The York scientists aren’t fooling me. They’re just pissed because the CN Tower has been surpassed and now they’re trying to build the tallest freestanding structure ever.

  2. #2 John Dupuis
    June 17, 2009

    Romeo, are you implying that York researchers have Burj Dubai envy?

  3. #3 rpg
    June 17, 2009

    Paging Babel, your tower is in reception.

  4. #4 John Dupuis
    June 18, 2009

    Ah, yes. I have to admit I didn’t think of it that way!

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