Date of release: Monday, January 23, 2017
Weightless travel from the earth to space, while walking around and enjoying the view – this is the aim of a University of Greenwich architecture student.
Tom Phillips, 25, produced an animated video for his final year MArch Design project which explores the idea of a "space elevator", to allow fast travel into space, without the need for conventional spacecraft.
Tom, who lives in Woolwich and is originally from High Wycombe, says: "The space elevator will bring science fiction to life by allowing fast, almost free space travel.
"For years people have had an idea of some sort of ladder, or a beanstalk. This makes it a real concept. From a base in the Thames Estuary, the elevator would be constructed from carbon nanotubes, which are like rope but stronger than diamond. They are already strong enough to create the space elevator, it is just a case of making it stronger and stronger so less material is required in construction."
"From the geostationary orbital platform 36,000km above Earth, a simple push in zero gravity will get you to outer space. This kind of propulsion would save billions, as so much of the money spent on space exploration goes on getting the astronauts off the planet. The exploration, colonisation and tourism of space will become real and this excites me beyond belief.
"Trips would probably be to the International Space Station, but you can't do much there except look at very specific research. Also you can only get three-or-four people in there at once."
Tom adds that as passengers travel up they will experience a large force of gravitational pull. About a quarter of the way up this eases and it will be like a long-haul flight. The journey will take between 15 and 20 hours. No space suits would be needed and people would be able to move around, in an area made up of multiple rooms, and watch what is happening.
"I'm already in discussion with private companies to develop the project further," he adds. "I hope to see funding from a private party in the next ten years and for construction to begin within 20 to 25 years. I've been fascinated by space ever since I can remember. I know some people find it daunting but I think, let's get out there!"
The project – animation, audio and accompanying portfolio – took Tom five months to complete. This month, he began his part three programme at the university, which is the final stage in becoming a fully-qualified architect.
You can see Tom's film here (best with audio): https://youtu.be/9tTe435YWCo
A shortened version of the portfolio is here and the accompanying thesis is here. For more on studying in the university's Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities: http://www.gre.ac.uk/ach/study