It may not be obvious at first, but the Eiffel Tower and space travel share a connection.
Dotted around the globe, it is towers such as these which feed Man’s ambition to conquer the space above us. Each of them signifies a competition between nations, global corporations and individuals to rise above the rest. In 1895, inspired by Paris’ enduring landmark, Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky wrote about a free-standing tower that would reach into geostationary orbit. His vision, along with those of other scientists, would evolve into the present-day pursuits to construct the world’s first space elevator.
Obayashi Corporation is the Japanese company which may make these early visions a reality. Responsible for constructing TOKYO SKYTREE, the firm completed construction in 2012. This broadcasting tower, observation desk and tourism magnet rises out of the concrete jungle below to show the world that this skyline means business. Its predecessor, Tokyo Tower, built in 1958 and also inspired by the Eiffel Tower’s design, is now relegated to being the country’s second tallest structure. There is always something bigger and better.
So, what now for Obayashi? What do you do once you have built one of the world’s tallest structures? Perhaps there is only one thing left – you carry on into space.
This Japanese company continues to develop the technology and test the theories for the elevator, which would cut the costs of taking cargo and crew up to an international space station by thousands of pounds. It also acts as technical advisor to Shizuoka University, Japan, which has begun initial testing of relevant technologies. In September 2018, it launched microsatellites to the ISS as part of an experiment to test elevator movement in space.
Is it plausible, as Obayashi claims, that we could be hitching a ride on an elevator to space by 2050? Or will conventional rocket launches remain the status quo?
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, has something to say about this. On his YouTube channel he explains: “I don’t think it’s really realistic to have a space elevator…It’s not the thing that I think makes sense right now, but hey, if someone can prove me wrong that’d be great”.
The ambition for a space elevator has been around for a long time now and it doesn’t appear to be losing momentum. In fact, many other countries are involved in scientific discussion and activity surrounding the topic. In November last year a Chinese research team from Tsinghua University reported it had developed a carbon nanotube fibre strong enough to use as cables for an elevator.
The competition is on. Man won’t rest until the thing is built and the sky is conquered once and for all.
EVS Translations works with global construction companies to produce multilingual content across print and digital media. Our teams have produced foreign language tender submissions for Asian engineering firms, proposals and legal documentation for U.K. architectural firms, and we deliver daily press clippings for the C-suite of a major German construction company.
Our international in-house teams are here to support your work. We drive performance in translation making it smarter for you.