British architect wins prize for space elevator

The concept revolves around connecting an ocean-based ship with a spaceport on low orbit.

The Jacques Rougerie Foundation in Paris has awarded a $11,000 (€10,000) prize to a British architect for designing a space elevator that would transport passengers to a spaceport in Earth’s low orbit. 

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While ideas about space elevators as a fast and inexpensive shuttle method are not new among engineers and enthusiasts, Jordan William Hughes proposes to connect the orbital structure with cables stretching from a ship moving around the ocean. This innovative approach, which he dubbed Ascensio, is a true piece of science fiction and may not materialize any time soon – if ever, the foundation reckons.

However, the London author of this concept deserved the prize for being the first to design a moving platform on water, hoping that one day his proposal would find a team to build the mechanism.

Space elevators offer an elegant solution to one of the major challenges in space exploration: eliminating the requirement for bulky and costly rockets to reach Earth's orbit.

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This concept traces back to the visionary thoughts of Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. In his 1895 book "Dreams of Earth and Sky," he envisioned a towering structure stretching 22,000 miles into the cosmos. Later on, Russian engineer Yuri Artsutanov elaborated on this idea, proposing a cable linking the Earth's surface with a geosynchronous satellite.

Hughes admitted in an interview for the BBC that he did not expect anything like it to be built in the next ten years, but expressed confidence that the idea would catch strong roots at a point of time in the future. 

"I'm sure it will happen because this is the only way space travel and space exploration actually works and becomes efficient," the architect said.

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