A two-day demonstration test for a space elevator it’s hoped could link Earth and a space station in the future was completed in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sunday.

The test, the second of its kind, was organized by the Japan Space Elevator Association. It was attended by 12 teams including universities and companies both within Japan and abroad.

In each team’s test, a piece of equipment called a climber ascended a cable hung from a flying balloon while carrying a robot.

A Kanagawa University team dropped a robot from a height of some 100 meters in a simulation of a landing on Mars. Despite the use of a parachute for a soft landing, the robot was damaged.

The space elevator project aims to link Earth with a space station orbiting at an altitude of 36,000 meters with a cable, and carry people and supplies on an elevator that moves using the cable. The system would provide a new means of mass transportation to replace rockets.

General contractor Obayashi Corp. aims to create a space elevator system by 2050.

“We still have many challenges,” said Shuichi Ono, head of the association. “But when (a space elevator is) materialized, space would no longer be a special place and would be accessible for children and elderly people.”

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