The first trial of a “space elevator” will be conducted by a Japanese team later this month. They will be testing the technology by sending two miniature satellites up in space. The test equipment has been developed by researchers at the Shizuoka University. It will get a ride on an H-2B rocket that Japan’s space agency is launching next week from the southern island of Tanegashima.
The test will use a miniature elevator that’s basically a box six centimeters long and three centimeters wide and equally as high. It’s meant to be a proof of concept by moving a 10-metre cable along suspended in space between two miniature satellites.
The elevator will exit a container in one of the satellites and travel along the cable. A spokesman for the university confirmed to AFP that “It’s going to be the world’s first experiment to test elevator movement in space.” The test will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.
Obayashi, a construction firm based in Japan, is working with the university on this project. It’s separately working on other methods to develop its own space elevator which would allow tourists to visit space by 2050. One of the methods could use carbon nanotube technology that can build a lift shaft some 60,000 miles above the Earth.