A panel of experts were quizzed on whether or not a space elevator would be feasible (and legal) and the result was a resounding “Yes” – but only if certain conditions are met.
Firstly, it would take one hell of a lot of materials to build a rope long and strong enough to carry the elevator all the way up and down again reliably (imagine if it broke!). The conclusion was that we don’t have the right sturdy-yet-light materials available just yet, but projections suggest they’ll be around in the next 20 years or so if development keeps up its current pace.
Secondly, the whole globe would need to join in on this one big project (including deciding on where the starting point is) – although it’s estimated that it would only take 10 years for the project to produce a return on the initial investment.
Don’t get too excited, though: the first step would be to use it for service deliveries of parts, new equipment and the like. It’s unlikely that we’ll all just be able to jump on an elevator and head out on a weekend break to space – at least not at first.
I’m hoping that the lift will include a massive button that just says “SPACE” on it: I know I’d always be the one pushing past everyone else to get to press it.