The idea of reaching up to the heavens has captivated several generations. For this challenge, rockets have shown to be extremely inefficient, and the idea of constructing a “Centrifugally Extended Carbon Nano-Tube Tether Space Elevator” (CECNTTSE) presents unsolved technological challenges. We conclude that; to efficiently achieve the goal of unrestricted movement away from Earth’s gravitational pull, both the use of the current state of the art and the proposed method for a Space Elevator should be reinvented.
For this reason, we propose the “Buoyant Advanced Building Elevator Lightweight” (BA-BEL) Tower, a new concept of ”a floating tower” that will be capable of reaching up to the Karman Line and beyond, while providing the structural support to a sub-orbital elevator and so offering a better launching platform for space vehicles, with built-in rocket engines, aimed especially to LEO but also beyond.
Using a (hybrid) LTA and electromagnetically driven elevator car, this super-tall tower could lift great amounts of cargo (and passengers) while avoiding the problems associated with space elevators, and could be more feasible in the shortest time. This concept comes by combining the Skylon Tower (of London) and the Burj Khalifa (of Dubai) in a Tensegrity structure with buoyant platforms, that “are linked” at every 2.5 km and are tethered to the ground. This anchor-mooring system will support a beam-stalk like buoyant shaft. The estimated aspect ratio (2.5:100) for each wing of its ” Y-shaped footprint ” will span, at sea level, 2500 meters in width.
All the platforms and the shaft “must be built” following a modular principle and its buoyancy will be generated by use of a perfect vacuum inside its cells, and so becoming lighter than air, free from the scarce availability of Helium, and safe from Hydrogen’s reactiveness.
Regarding its structural engineering, this buoyant tower is comparable to a maritime spar platform for deep-water oil-extraction, because its foundations would have to resist the up-thrusting forces that the buoyant structure will produce, instead of the compressive forces caused by weight. This concept will have a high potential of efficiency in reducing the cost per kilogram to be in transit to orbital insertion. Also this Tower being an infrastructure of planetary scale could provide the platforms necessary for other different uses such as astronomical observation, clean solar energy distribution (by laser beaming), space tourism, telecommunications, research laboratories, aerosols dispersion, carbon and methane sequestration, airship hub terminal, etc.