Like something out of "The Jetsons," Canadian firm Thoth Technology has been granted a U.S. patent for a space elevator. The proposed "freestanding space tower" would reach a little over 12 miles above the Earth, according to an announcement from the company.
It would stand 20 times the height of current tall structures, according to Thoth Technology, and could be used for wind-energy generation, tourism, and communications. It would save 30 percent of the fuel of a normal rocket, the company said.
Once an astronaut would ascend 12 miles through the elevator to the top of the tower, "space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit," returning back and forth to the tower for refueling, said Brendan Quine, the space elevator's inventor.
Thoth Technology sees this as a transformational moment for space travel, with the space tower set to reap the benefits of advances in self-landing rocket technologies.
“Landing on a barge at sea level is a great demonstration," Caroline Roberts, the company's CEO said, alluding to SpaceX's attempts to land a booster rocket on a floating platform off the coast of Florida. "But landing at 12 miles above sea level will make space flight more like taking a passenger jet.”