Space travel may just enter the next stage of its development as a Canadian technology company has been granted a patent in the United States for a massive space elevator capable of transporting astronauts to the Earth's stratosphere.

Thoth Technology Inc. announced that it is one step closer to their goal of revolutionizing travel to space through the help of a freestanding space tower complete with an electric elevator that can lift cargo and crew 12 miles above sea level.

Dr. Brendan Quine, creator of the space elevator, explained that once prospective passengers reach the top of the tower, they could then board spacecraft and launch from its platform toward orbit. The spacecraft could also use the massive tower to refuel and relaunch space missions.

Thoth Technology's space elevator is viewed as a potential alternative to the use of costly and inefficient rockets in order to launch astronauts and cargo to space. Current rocket designs make use of large amounts of power during lift off, burning much of their fuel supply trying to fight against the effects of atmospheric drag and inertia.

While concepts of a space tower have been raised before, engineers have struggled to create a feasible design since there is no known material capable of supporting the entire weight of a freestanding building at such heights. Some have even suggested the use of nano-threads made of diamonds as a material for the tower.

Thoth's solution to this design challenge is to build the space tower only 12.4 miles high so that it reaches the stratosphere instead of 22,000 miles, where the geostationary orbit of most satellites are located.

The gigantic facility, called the ThothX Tower, would be made inflatable and feature segments that are reinforced for support. The tower will also have a runway on top, where payloads for satellites could be taken to space. Its design will keep the tower upright through the use of a complex system of fly-wheels that will prevent the structure from bending.

According to its patent, the space tower will either feature pressurized cars built within the structure itself, similar to message systems that use pneumatic tubes, or an alternative system that allows the cars to travel outside the tower, similar to a funicular railway.

The designers of the ThothX Tower said that the facility could also be used for communications, scientific studies and power generation using wind turbines.

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