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Outer space is having a pretty big news day: first, astronauts eat lettuce that was grown at the International Space Station, and now, the U.S. and U.K. have awarded Canadian company Thoth Technology, Inc. with patents for a SPACE ELEVATOR.

Space elevators have always been a purely theoretical concept, but one that, if realized, could truly pay off: they would save a great deal of fuel and money, and have the added benefit of preventing rocket-related disasters. The invention would allow people to take what would traditionally be roughly 12 miles into space travel via electrical elevator rather than a rocket; once in the stratosphere, a person could transfer to a space ship, NBD.

Thoth (which we dearly hope is pronounced like Hoth beginning with a “th” for nerd reasons) says ships would also be able to refuel at the top of the elevator, rather than having to descend to Earth’s surface, making the elevator even more convenient.

While this idea is undoubtedly pretty exciting, it’s still in a conceptual phase. Those skeptical of the technology argue that between Earth’s gravity and its harsh weather systems, the elevator will remain a dream.

However, Thoth inventor Brian Quine thinks otherwise: his design for a space elevator could potentially circumvent obstacles by being inflatable. That’s right: the “ThothX Tower” will be (more or less) a giant bouncy castle/elevator hybrid into the stratosphere.

The elevator would even be relatively green: Quine told The Guardian that, “The tower could change space travel because professional rockets are very energy intensive and not very environmentally friendly.” Whereas a rocket is typically destroyed after one use, the elevator could be used multiple times, and save more than 30% of the fuel used in a conventional launch.

The ThothX Tower could also potentially be used for communications, and generating wind energy, making it a surprisingly sustainable piece of technology. Quine also hopes to have the tower open to tourists, enabling people to experience a sort of “outer space lite” where they get a sense of space conditions without losing gravity.

While there’s still a long way to go, innovations like the ThothX Tower and self-landing rocket technologies could revolutionize space travel, making it more accessible—and affordable—for the masses.

(Image via Warner Bros)

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