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Japan's space elevator competition.

Summary: Engineering students on the outskirts of Tokyo have competed to create small-scale space elevatorso.

Engineering students aimed for the stars on the outskirts of Tokyo as they competed to create what many hope may eventually lead to the world's first space elevator.

Fifteen teams from Japanese, US and German universities took part in the two day event which kicked off as teams, one-by-one, attached their mechanical climbers to cabling suspended from a balloon 300 meters above ground.

The aim for the teams was to make it to the top in the fastest time possible and return safely to earth.

While many teams, including last year's Munich University champions experienced trouble, Nihon University's team's climber was the only climber to make it to the top during the morning competition.

"The result of having participated was that although there were alot of problems along the way, thanks to all the help that we received, we were able to make it all the way up to 300-meters. I feel pretty happy right now," said 22-year-old Shun Matsumoto of the Nihon University team.

The original concept was inspired by science fiction author Arthur C. Clarkes' space elevators in his novel 'Fountains of Paradise' that were used to transport payloads to outer space more efficiently and cost-effectively than rockets or space ships.

For a space elevator to work, a cable attached to an object in geosynchronous orbit would be secured to a point on earth.

Vice-chairman of the Japan Space Elevator Association Yoshio Aoki said: "When one tries to go to space, it's inherently very dangerous, and it's a world where only a select few are allowed to go after completing training. A space elevator on the other hand would allow anyone to go in complete safety."

However critics say a major obstacle will be devising a cable-like material able to withstand the intense weight and pressure of a life-sized climber.

Independent Television News Limited 2010. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Aug 10, 2010
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