Canadian company Thoth Technology has successfully patented a design for a 20-kilometer inflatable structure dubbed the space elevator. If built, it could reduce the fuel needs for launching spacecraft by one-third (and provide a killer view).
20 kilometers, or approximately 49,000 feet, is higher than passenger jets fly. Made of stacked rings of Kevlar and inflated with hydrogen or helium, an elevator could ride up the tower, carrying spacecraft, satellites and even tourists to the top. According to CEO Caroline Roberts, at that height, "you would be able to see the bright blue rim of the Earth and a view stretching 1,000 kilometres."
Thoth says the structure could be replicated up to 200 kilometers, reaching low earth orbit. The 20-kilometer version would take approximately 10 years and $5 billion to construct.
h/t Cool Hunting