An elevator to space? Demo by Japanese students brings science fiction closer to reality

A demonstration by a group of Japanese students showed how the technology for a space elevator could work. These elevators would link Earth's surface to space using cables tethered to satellites.

Space elevators would link Earth's surface to space using cables tethered to satellites

Technology demonstrated at robotics show in Thailand 0:42

A demonstration by a group of Japanese students Monday showed how the technology for a space elevator could work.

Space elevators would link Earth's surface to space using gondolas that move along cables tethered to satellites some 36,000 kilometres away.

Researchers from Kanagawa University in Japan demonstrated their developing technology to a group of business people in Bangkok. They showed how a robot could climb a 100-metre-long cable anchored to a building.

Though tiny in scale compared to the distances an actual space elevator would have to travel, the technology the group hopes to make a reality is expected to work in much the same way as it's famously described in the 1979 sci-fi novel The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke.

Space elevators are considered essential to full-scale space development because they could dramatically lower the cost of travel by making us less reliant on astronomically expensive rocket missions.

Shuichi Ohno, the president of the Japan Space Elevator Association who was part of the demonstration, said space elevators will be a reality in the mid-21st century.

Scientists say space elevators will function in areas near the equator.