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Space Elevator

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Going up...
"In one moment, Earth; in the next, Heaven."
Academician Prokhor Zakharov, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

A concept that gets kicked around a lot in Speculative Fiction as well as among real-life futurists. Exactly What It Says on the Tin: an elevator riding up into space on a cable stretched from Earth into orbit.

Physics dictates the placement. It would need to be placed on the equator, and stretch up in such a way that the center of mass for the system was beyond the geosynchronous orbit level. That means at least 22,000 miles up. Hope the music doesn't suck. To be honest, you could do worse than one of the great classics of bossa nova, but some variety would be nice...

The best materials science we have today tells us that the only known material with a high enough strength-to-weight ratio would be carbon nanotube cable. We so far don't have the ability to manufacture it in the lengths needed. Other theoretical methods include dynamic-support, essentially a stream of magnetized bullets whose momentum pushes up the cable. The idea is surprisingly plausible from a physics standpoint, is evident in medium-hard sci-fi, and would, once the construction cost was paid off, reduce the cost of putting payloads into orbit. It's been said that we could have a working space elevator about 50 years after everyone stops laughing. Most of them have.

Many works of fiction suggest building a prototype on the Moon or Mars (before tackling Earth), as the lower gravity makes it easier (and safer in case something goes wrong). Those suggesting Mars are reasonable, although there is a moon between the Martian surface and synchronous orbit. On the plus side, there is a second moon just outside synchronous orbit, which would be handy to use as material to make the elevator. A lunar space elevator would need to connect to either the L1 or L2 Lagrange points of the Earth-Moon system, requiring it to be several times longer than its terrestrial counterpart, but the Moon's low gravity means it's still possible with current materials.

These are sometimes known as "beanstalks", after Jack and the Beanstalk.

Compare Star Scraper.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dirty Pair:
    • One shows up in the Action Prologue to Project EDEN; it doesn't last long after the sting operation they stage in an elevator car escalates to a bomb destroying the beanstalk along with the orbital ring it was connected to.
    • In Dirty Pair Flash, they also have an orbital ring to which the elevators connect at the top.
  • Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 has a skyhook connecting Tokyo and an orbital power satellite, which plays several important roles in the plot. The evil Mega-Corp GENOM is building a network of tunnels beneath Tokyo to store energy released by the satellite, which are put to other uses by several villians. Sylia, the leader of the Knight Sabers, also tries to use the energy discharged by the skyhook to power a BFG so she can try to fry the Humanoid Abomination Galatea while she's still Sealed In A Can. (It doesn't work.) Before the end, the Knight Sabers have to hitch a ride into orbit.
  • In Battle Angel Alita, Zalem (Tiphares) is at the bottom of a space elevator.
  • One of these plays a significant role in Super Dimension Century Orguss; the ruins of one also play a role in the sequel, Orguss 02.
  • Tekkaman Blade goes one step further, with an entire orbital ring serviced by multiple elevators.
  • Kurau Phantom Memory has a space elevator to facilitate travel between Earth and a moon colony.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Space elevator infrastructure is a major part of the backstory, and every global superpower has one of its own. In fact, whether or not a country or a union has access to one of these determines whether they're considered developing or developed. All three are connected to and serve as the distribution network for the power supplied by an artificial ring of solar energy collectors that encircle Earth and serves as the basis for the energy needs of the 24th century.

    Aeolia Schenberg, the primary founder of Celestial Being, was a major contributor to the space elevator network, and even used his contacts with the many scientific communities at the time to form an Ancient Conspiracy, the objective of which was to gain technological superiority over the forming global status quo, even coopting a mission to Jupiter to ensure that their technological edge was maintained. Even the Humongous Mecha of the series were initially developed to defend the elevators from terrorist attacks and military intervention. (Supplementary materials describe Humongous Mecha which are basically normal units turned into elevator compartments, with their chassis attached to long cables which drag them to wherever on the thousand kilometers of elevator they are required to be.)

    The series also makes a point out of how incredibly fragile such a structure would be. Nobody wants to fight around those things since even the slightest damage could cause the whole structure to collapse (and leave a third of the world without electrical power). Naturally, in the proud Gundam tradition of dropping large objects onto Earth, one of the towers is damaged late in the series and is forced to jettison its outer shell in order to remain upright and balanced. The damage from the millions of tons of falling debris is nothing short of devastating.
  • Gundam: Reconguista in G revisits the concept of a space elevator, where the "Capital Tower" and its immediate surroundings function as an Expy of Vatican City for the in-universe Space-Umbilical-Cordism religion. It’s used to receive Photon Batteries from the space city, Towasanga, which the world’s nations depend on for energy.
  • A Space Elevator named Spiras is built in Tokyo Bay in Silent Möbius. Shame it's main role is to get blown up so Katsumi can face her past.
  • Zone of the Enders: Dolores, I has a space elevator built on Earth, and is the main mechanism by which goods and people are shuttled to and from the surface of the planet. It features heavily in some episodes, and is a critical part of the plot in the later part of the series.
  • A space elevator extends up from the Capital in Eureka Seven, though it's only shown a handful of times. It's called the Megaroad in the movie.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Negi mentions that using these is a part of his project to terraform Mars. UQ Holder!, the sequel, features it prominently. The physics are a bit iffy, but given the presence of magic in the setting it's likely Magitek.
  • In A Certain Magical Index: Miracle of Endymion, Academy City debuts a space elevator called Endymion. Index compares it to the Tower of Babel. It turns out the elevator's creators deliberately modeled Endymion to be like the Tower of Babel in an attempt to ruin the world by recreating the original Biblical disaster. It also goes a bit into the physics and mechanics of the huge undertaking the construction of the elevator requires (and the fact it should have been built along the equator), but all of this is justified as Academy City built it in such a unlikely place to flex to the world their scientific superiority.
  • GunBuster has cable cars running to space in the final episode.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, KaibaCorp has a single-seat space elevator that takes the user to a small space station in low orbit.
  • Active Raid's finale features one that is both unusual and yet surprisingly much more realistic than most examples: the space elevator in question is actually a single fiber-optic cable linked from a satellite to Earth for high-speed data transmission.
  • Brave Police J-Decker: The plot of Episodes 7 and 8 features one of these still in construction. An accident occurs and puts it at risk of falling into the ocean, which would cause a huge tsunami that would devastate the coast. The Brave Police are tasked with placing booster rockets on it to slow down its fall, but the upper part breaks apart ahead of time, forcing them the destroy the pieces as they fall through the atmosphere.
  • Black★★Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall: The Moon-based hostile AI Artemis begins constructing a space elevator that the heroes fear it will use to send all its troops from the Moon to the Earth. When it is completed, the elevator is instead used to suck up the polluted Iron Ocean to use it as fuel for a Moon-based device that will attract meteors to Colony Drop the planet. Black Rock Shooter manages to destroy the elevator, but only after 70% of the population was killed.
  • Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune: The And the Adventure Continues ending of Season One has Unit K-321 rescue hostages from the mid-level platform of a space elevator. Unfortunately the ground terminal hadn't been captured yet so they couldn't use it to carry them back up to their spacecraft. Given a choice between trying to climb up the space elevator or making a high-altitude parachute jump off the platform into a war zone, they take the easy option...and jump.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Atmospheric Tower from episode 7 of Pleasant Goat Fun Class: The Earth Carnival is essentially one, consisting of an elevator that stops at each layer of the atmosphere before finally reaching space in the higher layers.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One is featured in Kamen Rider Kabuto: God Speed Love.
  • One appears at the Corbulo Academy of Military Science in Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. When the Covenant attack it's used to evacuate cadets. Unfortunately as it's carrying out groups of people to orbit, it gets destroyed near the base. Almost a full minute later, the screaming passengers start hitting the ground.
  • One appears in Mr. Nobody, which connects the Mars colony to a docking space station in orbit.

  • Arthur C. Clarke:
    • He did not invent the idea, but his novel The Fountains of Paradise was among the first to promote the concept to the general public.
    • This extends to his other works, including in Firstborn which were destroyed (cut off) when the Spacers retaliated against Earth dropping a nuke on Mars, with surprisingly low (or even zero) casualty, since the cable fell and burned, while the station was floating around in orbit.
    • The final sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey (3001: The Final Odyssey) features not one, not two, but four space elevators (one each in Africa, South America, Indonesia, and the Pacific) connected by a ring. They're built from Jupiter's diamond core, which got blown to bits when the planet became a tiny star in 2010.
    • The Last Theorem also features a space elevator, which like the one in The Fountains of Paradise is built in Sri Lanka, far from the equator. An author's note explains, tongue-in-cheek, that for The Fountains of Paradise he moved Sri Lanka south until it rested on the equator, and for The Last Equation, to make a change, he moved the equator north.
    • The Songs of Distant Earth features a spaceship with a built-in space elevator - the ship remains in orbit and lowers a cable to the planet's surface to take on or discharge cargo.
  • Foundation Series: In Foundation's Triumph, we learn that Trantor (a planet-wide city) apparently used a network of space elevators to transport people and supplies to and from Trantor, at least until the Great Sack.
  • Charles Sheffield:
    • The novel The Web Between the Worlds was published almost simultaneously with Clarke's, and bears some close similarities, including a near miss with the name of the protagonist. However, in a foreword to Sheffield's novel, Clarke discounts any suggestion of plagiarism, pointing out merely that the space elevator was an idea whose time had come.
    • Summertide in the Heritage Universe series provides us with a retractable space elevator, the Umbilical, strung between two planets that, of course, share a barycenter - Quake and Opal - in orbit around the stellar focus of their planetary system.
  • Mentioned in Friday when the title character complains about how riding one nauseates her.
  • In The Science of Discworld books, humanity will eventually build a whole network of space elevators.
    • Previously, Terry Pratchett had used space elevators (the Lines) in Strata.
    • Sir Pterry must have liked the concept, because it also showed up in The Long Mars, which he co-wrote with Stephen Baxter.
  • The Red Mars Trilogy features a space elevator on Mars and the effect of bringing one down. By Green Mars, there are several on Earth.
  • Old Man's War has a space elevator. Interestingly, it's gratuitously unrealistic in universe— even though Space Elevators are compatible with the laws of physics, this particular one isn't (its center of mass isn't far enough from the surface.) That it works anyway is one of the first indications that the Colonial Union, who built it, is hiding technology up its sleeve.
  • In Accelerando, space elevators are used to disassemble the inner solar system into computronium.
  • In Saturn's Children, Mars has one giant space elevator called Bifrost.
  • The Revelation Space Series novel Chasm City has a space elevator on the planet Sky's Edge, which is severed as the main character is riding it into orbit. The elevator is so long he actually has time to realise what's happening and take action to save himself.
  • Robert L. Forward's various books often feature these.
    • The hero of Timemaster owns a company that made him a trillionaire largely through building space rotavators and related technology. Rotavators don't touch the ground, they are large cables that are rotating slowly with good momentum. On Earth they just barely touch the upper atmosphere and are timed to touch down in specific location every few hours so a large plane can load a capsule on to the Rotavator. It should be noted the author was the head of the NASA team that designed them...
    • Dragon's Egg and Starquake feature aliens living on a neutron star who, after getting help from orbiting human astronauts in kick-starting a scientific revolution, rapidly advance literally overnight to building space elevators of a variety of types.
  • The Great Glass Elevator enters space in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, though not on a cable. It uses a cable with "skyhooks". One end is hooked to the elevator, the other to... Hey! Look! A convenient distraction! That's more Wonka deflecting the question by handwaving the Elevator's support/propulsion mechanism than a genuine explanation. Essentially, the book does not contain an explanation. The elevator also has "rockets" which the illustrations depict as nothing more than an exhaust bell underneath, attached to the outside of the glass, with no sign of the rest of the rocket engine or the fuel tanks. Really the thing works by something between Applied Phlebotinum and magic, and it is not useful to try and explain it rationally.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo: Contact Harvest, there are seven of them on the colony of Harvest. This being Halo, they end up getting destroyed by the Covenant.
    • In Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, one of Earth's elevators (tethered to Havana,Cuba) is destroyed by Spartan-II Blue Team when they used a nuke to destroy a Covenant Warship parked next to it. Which was part of their plan to steal its sister ship so they could use it to travel to the titular world Onyx and meet up with Dr. Halsey and several other Spartans.
  • A substantial portion of David Gerrold's novel Jumping off the Planet takes place aboard a space elevator.
  • In the Wing Commander novel Action Stations, recounting the initial events of the Terran-Kilrathi war the Kilrathi target, as part of their attack on the Confederation base at McAuliffe (Pearl Harbor IN SPACE), the skyhook that supports the base, using torpedoes with the newly developed capability of bypassing the massive shielding on bases and capital warships, against which fighters were otherwise mostly useless, relegating them to scouting or other supporting roles.
  • In The Golden Oecumene, there is a space elevator on Earth. Phaethon zooms up the space elevator after getting back his spiffy armor, to face his trial. On his return from the spoiler, since he was exiled from the Golden Oecumene, he has to take the long way down — the stairs.
  • Iain M. Banks:
    • Feersum Endjinn is set in a giant castle-like structure which used to be the Earth terminal of a space elevator.
    • In one of Banks' short stories, terrorists give the protagonist a powerful Culture-built handgun that only he can use, and try to blackmail him into taking out a government target with it. While contemplating what the weapon is capable of, the protagonist imagines using it to destroy the planet's Space Elevator, trying to picture the resulting destruction and idly wondering whether it would come crashing to the ground or simply spin off into space.
  • A space elevator enables the premise of Limit: the worthwhile mining for Helium-3 on the moon.
  • In the Uplift novel Sundiver, Earth had two of these by the 23rd century. They're named Vanilla Needle and Chocolate Needle.
  • Dream Park:
    • In The Barsoom Project, Cowles Industries host a major conference to recruit nations' and other megacorps' support of a Mars-terraforming program that would use this in its operation. The possibility of building one on Earth after a Martian version has been proven safe and reliable is also discussed.
    • In The California Voodoo Game, the villain's corporate espionage is suspected to have been committed on behalf of the Ecuadorian government, which has a vested interest in learning Cowles' Space Elevator designs, because Ecuador is one of the best sites for it: the highest point on the equator is in Ecuador.
  • In the Great Ship novel Marrow, the eponymous world at the core of the Great Ship is connected to the rest of the ship by a small space elevator, which moves extremely quickly to pass through the containment fields surrounding Marrow.
  • In Robert Reed's novel The Leeshore, the eponymous planet has a largely decrepit space elevator, maintained by a few hundred workers at a long-forgotten refueling planet. The elevator is armed with a variety of point defense lasers to blow up anything approaching it, including the Living Gasbags which block out the sky everywhere on the planet. The workers cut the elevator's tether point in a last act of defiance when their settlement is attacked, causing the elevator to go soaring out of the atmosphere.
  • In book three of The Long Earth series, The Long Mars, Willis Linsay leads an expedition across the multiverse in search of one of these, based entirely on his conviction that one logically had to exist somewhere. This requires getting to "the Gap", a missing link in the Long Earth where a meteor hit, travelling to that universe's Mars, and then traversing the almost entirely separate chain of parallel Marses until they find it. The civilization that built it is already extinct, as Mars only supports life in brief windows compared to Earth, but Willis gets a sample of the "beanstalk cable" to return to Earth.
  • Both Earth and Mars have 3 each in Star Carrier. The ones on Earth are, naturally, in equatorial locations: Quito (the capital of Ecuador), Mt. Kenya, and one of the Lingga Islands close to Singapore. The stations at the other end are usually called either Synchorbitals or Supra-<name of the city below> (e.g. Supra-Quito).
  • The Starclimber from the third book in the Airborn trilogy is mankind's first space-faring vehicle. It's furnished as well as any hotel and rides on a cable of highly reinforced steel.
  • The Atlas colony in Blindfold has one at the hub. It connects to a space platform made of one of the second ship to be sent there from Earth (it was full of prisoners, who had since assimilated into the population). Since the Atlas colony lacks advanced space industry, the elevator is the only way of getting into orbit. The Big Bad blows it up along with the platform near the end of the novel as a retaliation for a former ally who turns against him. This robs the colonists from access to space and to the orbital lab that manufactures the Veritas drug, used by the Truthsayers to judge people accused of serious crimes, at least until the next ship arrives in a few years.
  • In Mercury, part of Ben Bova's Grand Tour series, a space elevator is nearing completion in Ecuador when the orbital counterweight is sabotaged by corporate agents via outlawed nanotech, as they feared the elevator would sabotage their business. Half the elevator cable comes screaming back down to Earth, leveling the tether point city and much of the spinward territory, while the rest shoots off into space. The designer of the elevator is sent to a kangaroo court for the deaths the failure caused, kicking off his plot for revenge.
  • Boundary: In Threshold, the Indian government decides to finance construction of a space elevator. The logic is that they are too far behind to be able to effectively compete with the other nations in building interplanetary ships to try and find more alien bases but by building the first space elevator they can get a solid lock on providing orbital lift capability for other nations.
  • Priscilla Hutchins: In Deepsix, the protagonists are surprised to find a Big Dumb Object orbiting an apparently uncivilized planet. They eventually work out that it's a 'skyhook' built by an alien race for a planetary evacuation of the world's less advanced inhabitants.
  • Digitesque: There is a single massive tower called the Pillar of Heaven, visible from a long way off. Ada discovers that it is a space elevator meant to service the ring surrounding Earth. Interestingly, it doesn't directly connect to the ring, and there's nothing at the top but a small shuttle platform. The elevator also requires information on cargo type before it will move, so that it doesn't accidentally cause damage when living people try to use it.
  • In David Brin's The Ancient Ones, most civilized planets have conventional space elevators, but demmies prefer something called "slurry transport" that liquefies organic material (including passengers) and shoots it down a miles-long hose attached to the front of their ships and reconstitutes them at the other end. Their human advisors often would prefer to take a shuttle, some Spertin prisoners claim it would be a war crime if they were forced to slurry to orbit.
  • In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, the planet Fezzan is depicted with one, although it is just simply used to connect to its spaceport sited in outer space.
  • Accel World has the addition of a space elevator to Japans's social camera network be a big deal, as it opens up space itself to the accelerated world's players. In fact, it becomes a massive event, featuring the various legions fielding racing teams in an effort to make it to the top of the virtual version. It also allows for the proper return to the Accelerated World of legendary player, Sky Raker.
  • In Heavy Object Volume 18, the Capitalist Enterprise constructs the Mother Lady, a carbon nanotube space elevator based in Africa. The Enterprise initially uses it to allow for orbital drop delivery anywhere on the planet, but Legitimacy Kingdom attacks out of fear that it can be used to orbital drop bombs anywhere on the planet.
  • The Eridians from Project Hail Mary, despite having developed a space program only relatively recently, have constructed a space elevator. This makes sense, as their planet's high gravity and dense atmosphere would make chemical rockets borderline impossible to use, and their advanced materials science compared to humans makes space elevators an even more logical option for them.
  • The short story "The Bridge to Space" is about the Sky Bridge, a somewhat similar idea. It's essentially an electromagnetic train/cannon that extends diagonally rather than straight up, more than a hundred kilometres in length. Held up by solar balloons, it can shoot bullet-shaped capsules into space. The first version is too short to safely shoot people (who'd be crushed by the massive g-forces), but it works fine for cargo. It's later extended until it's long enough to shoot people.
  • In Bounders, the planet Gulaga is connected to its space dock via an elevator shaft hundreds of kilometers long. The elevator is made out of clear plastic, and Jasper and Lucy are so afraid to enter it that they cause a bottleneck at the door. It doesn't help that the elevator descends at a terrifying speed.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: On seeing a lift tower attached to a low orbit space dock orbiting an abandoned colony world, someone mentions that a shuttle system would be more cost-effective. It's pointed out that the colonists were probably in Indentured Servitude, and if they wanted to escape the planet it would be a lot easier to seize a shuttle than ride the 'drop box' to the top of the elevator and try to seize a spacecraft before it had time to detach from the space dock.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Foundation (2021), the City Planet Trantor has one called the Star Bridge, allowing it to manage the immense cargo and passenger loads required to be the capital of the Galactic Empire. This is one of many technical ideas that did not exist when Isaac Asimov wrote the Foundation Series, but was incorporated by the showrunners. The Star Bridge is destroyed by terrorists in the pilot episode, causing catastrophic destruction and 100 million deaths when the elevator falls to the surface and wraps itself around the planet "like a garrote".
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Rise" has Tuvok and Neelix trapped on a space elevator in a Death in the Clouds plot. The fact that space elevators have not appeared in Star Trek other than this one time may be related to the fact that that region of the Delta Quadrant never discovered transporter technology.
  • The TV speculative documentary titled 2057 predicts several of these by, well, 2057. Unfortunately, they screw it up by placing the base station only 300 kilometers up. Even more bizarre as they had a prominent physicist (Michio Kaku) as host.
  • In Krypton, the eponymous planet has the Hypersonic Orbital Tether, a space elevator that links it to its moon, Wegthor, the soil of which is rich in Stellarium ore, which is needed to make hyperspace fuel. The resistance against General Dru-Zod's dictatorship established their base on Wegthor, and end up blowing up the Hypersonic Orbital Tether to prevent Zod from sending his Sagitari armies against them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Android has the iconic Beanstalk built at the city of New Angeles by Jack Weyland, founder of Mega-Corp Weyland Consortium.
  • 2300 AD had a Space Elevator on the planet Beta Canum; it was used as a test bed before one was built on Earth. The Beta Canum beanstalk had to be cut loose before the Kafer invasion, to make sure the Kafers didn't use it to destroy the colony by breaking it at the top.
  • The Tabletop RPG Jovian Chronicles has one on Mars, but the one on Earth proved to be too difficult to engineer in the high terrestrial gravity and thick atmosphere. Earth uses "Skyhooks", shorter versions, where the top is in low orbit, and the bottom flies in the stratosphere, moving cargo between high-altitude planes and low-flying spacecraft.
  • A Shadowrun supplement had several Mega Corps planning to build a Space Elevator atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, over objections of some of the most powerful nature spirits in Africa. As of the 2070s(4th edition), the Kilimanjaro Mass Driver is up and functioning, though the spirits haven't stopped fighting over the territory.
  • Transhuman Space has the Olympus Project in Kenya, although it hasn't been completed yet. As in other examples, there's a completed elevator on Mars, linking Diemos to New Shanghai.
  • These are called "Orbital Spires" in Warhammer 40,000 because it sounds fancier. Since most factions already have aerospace crafts that can cheaply move people to and from a planet's surface, they're mostly used by Forge Worlds for heavy cargo lifting.
  • Numenera has one of these in the northern section of the Beyond. It's called the Beanstalk, and has been conflated with the story of Jack and the Beanstalk by the locals, who have no idea how to work it.
  • Dragonstar has the "skyhook" on the planet Aelding, which the local silver dragons use to be the galaxy's leading spacecraft manufacturers.
  • In Eclipse Phase Earth had several elevators before The Fall, only one of which is still standing, anchored at Kilimanjaro. It's occasionally used by scavengers and Reclaimers, though the spaceport at the base is as much a Death World as the rest of the planet. Mars also has a space elevator on Olympus Mons.
  • Terraforming Mars, a Board Game about What It Says On The Tin, has the players controlling megacorporations which engage in massive projects, including, sometimes, the creation of a space elevator. It's one of the more expensive projects, but gives a considerable boost to your economy.

    Video Games 
  • The final level in Azure Striker Gunvolt takes Gunvolt up Sumeragi Corp's space elevator to take down their leader, Nova, at his base. Then in the true final level, he takes it again and fights Asimov on the way back down.
  • Mega Man X8's problems eventually revolve around a Space Elevator. Sort of. As is typical for a Mega Man game, an entire level is built around riding the Space Elevator to the top. Oddly enough, the writers couldn't seem to figure out exactly what they wanted their Space Elevator to be. In the opening intro, it's depicted as some kind of tubular, spiraling roadway, with car-type vehicles driving up and down the outside of the tube (one explodes and falls into the park, setting off the story). Later, X, Zero and Axl take an actual elevator up to the top, which takes about five minutes and involves enemies dropping in from above, when any movement inside an actual elevator would be difficult due to zero-G and the fact that the car would have to be sealed...
  • In Xenosaga we see an Orbital Elevator over the planet of Fifth Jerusalem.
  • The Helghast in Killzone 3 have one that works on laser propulsion.
  • F-Zero GX has a track set on a space elevator, Cosmo Terminal: Trident. For the first two laps the track is constantly moving upwards, providing a disorienting background to distract you, and only on the final lap does the elevator reach the spaceport at the top.
  • In Cities: Skylines this is one of the monuments you can build upon achieving enough city milestones. It spawns massive crowds of tourists.
  • In Civilization 4 the Space Elevator is a wonder you can build, which boosts by half production on space ship parts required to win the Alpha Centauri victory.
  • It's also a wonder in Call to Power, where it creates a space city above the city containing the wonder, and allows units to travel between the two without the drawbacks of other space launch methods.
  • It is also a Secret Project in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (the movie for which provides the page quote), which doubles the energy (i.e. cash flow) at the base you build it at, doubles the speed with which all your bases can build orbital improvements (satellites and space installations that give your whole faction benefits), and lifts the requirement that any base building an orbital improvement have an Aerospace Complex. Since orbital improvements are pretty darn awesome (Orbital Hydroponics Stations give each base +1 Nutrients to grow faster; Orbital Power Transmitters give you +1 extra Energy per base, potentially giving you loads of cash; Nessus Mining Stations give you +1 Minerals per base, letting you build stuff faster; and Orbital Defense Pods give you a 50% chance of stopping Planet Busters), provided you haven't pissed off Planet too much, so this is kind of a big deal.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo 2, the New Mombasa Space Elevator is destroyed when Regret's Assault Carrier enters slipspace within the city itself. In Halo 3, the Master Chief must fight his way along a highway in the same region, around which scattered bits of the elevator can be seen. One Marine mentions it's scattered over East Africa. The actual collapse of the elevator is seen in Halo 3: ODST; the "cable" part of the elevator floats off into space while the massive ring things around it come loose and fall to earth.
    • A few of the multiplayer maps are set in or around space elevators, like Halo 3's "Orbital, and Halo 4's "Skyline" and "Harvest"; in particular, "Harvest" is set around the same ones featured in Halo: Contact Harvest.
    • In Halo 5: Guardians, you actually go down one in order to get to Meridian. You then have to travel back up it when Meridian gets overrun by Prometheans; in classic Halo fashion, it's destroyed right as you escape.
  • Latale has the Bifrost map, which is called a space elevator, though instead of riding an actual elevator up, you have to climb the entire thing.
  • In Dystopia, there are five space elevators located on or very near the equator, and four of them are the traditional kind. However, one of those is anchored to Atlantis, a free floating city in the Atlantic Ocean. It has yet to be explained how the elevator maintains geosynchronous orbit.
  • In Sonic Colors, this is how Dr. Eggman's intergalactic amusement park is accessed from Earth. This being a Sonic game, of course, you eventually descend on foot.
  • In Surviving Mars, this is a wonder which can replace or supplement the rockets as the colony's means of trade with earth.
  • The world of Syndicate Wars has one in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a Shout-Out to Arthur C. Clarke who lived there. You take a ride on it in the final missions.
  • In RefleX the boss fight against Scorpio takes place in one of these, while climbing.
  • In Infinite Space, orbital elevators are the usual method for space travelers to travel between orbital spaceports and planetary surfaces.
  • The last part of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine happens inside one of those Orbital Spires mentioned above, since it happens to act as a fairly good grounding rod for the Big Bad's warp portal.
  • In EV Nova the Kane Band, an artificial ring around Earth's equator, is connected to the surface by six space elevators, colloquially known as Kane's Ladders.
  • In Border Down, the enemy forces try to topple a space elevator on the colonized and terraformed Mars in order to destroy the Martian capital of Sheffield. Frank destroys the elevator by accident trying to defend it
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, several of these installations, known as "gravity hooks", exist on the surface of Makeb. Interestingly, thanks to the Star Wars universe's Casual Interstellar Travel, they're horrifically inefficient; they're used on Makeb because the planet's atmosphere makes travel by shuttle or ship dangerous and impractical, necessitating a workaround. For this reason, an early Imperial quest in the Rise of the Hutt Cartel content consists of capturing a gravity hook to use as a beachhead for the Empire's covert operations on the planet.
  • Star Ruler 2 features space elevators as an Imperial-scale planetary improvement project. Each Space Elevator on a planet reduces the cost of support ships - small gunships, space fighters and such that escort the multi-kilometer long flagships - by 30%. Being an Imperial scale project, they are prohibitively expensive to build, and in the early game will consume the majority of your budget cycle and possibly part of the next budget cycle. They are available at the very beginning of the game, and things only get crazier from there.
  • In Starbase Orion, colonies can build space elevators to reduce the costs of building ships. Very useful. Strangely, this doesn't reduce the costs of building starbases.
  • The Orbital Elevator in Strider (2014), a huge elevator functioning by gravity control built inside the really long Meio's Tower. It is the only way to access Meio's throne room, found at the very top of the tower and hosting a nice view of outer space.
  • A fantastic example in Unreal is the Sky Elevator, a floating cubicle which connects the top of the Sunspire to an asteroid with a city on it. Later on, in the Expansion Pack, you find it crashed on a lake near the Sunspire - two humans found out the hard way that riding it in bad weather isn't a good idea.
  • The Front Mission series has multiple examples. The Orbital Elevator ATLAS plays a prominent role in backstory of Front Mission: Gun Hazard and serves as The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Multiple Orbital Elevators also appear in Front Mission Evolved, with each of the world superpowers having at least one.
  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown revolves around control of a space elevator known as "the Lighthouse." Bandai Namco consulted with a Japanese company researching the development of actual space elevators to ensure a realistic portrayal.
  • The Battle Clash games have a stage with a space elevator built at the site of the ancient Tower of Babel, which connects to a secret base on the moon where the Big Bad's hideout resides. In the first game, you fight your way up the elevator from the inside, and in Metal Combat, you start at the top of the tower and engage your opponent in a Free-Fall Fight.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the World Tree that is said to be the dwelling place of the Architect is revealed to be one late in the game that leads up to the space station where the experiment that destroyed the old world took place.
  • Satisfactory starts relatively simple, collecting resources to build up your Hub to proper function. Once that's done, however, your next goal is to build the base of a huge Space Elevator, and when you place it, a massive cable descends from the sky and hooks on to the base. Your objectives are then to provide increasingly complex materials and resources to build up the facilities on the Space Elevator.
  • In Aven Colony it's one the 'mega structures' you can build. Its expensive and power hungry but it increases you storage capacity and allows grater movement of colonists.
  • Street Fighter X Tekken has a stage called "Cosmic Elevator" set in one of these. When the match starts, it starts off at the bottom before the elevator ascends (though starting the second round will have it skip the rest of the ascension and jump straight to the top). It would later be ported over to Ultra Street Fighter IV, albeit with the whole ascension part completely cut out.

  • Schlock Mercenary features one on Luna (The Moon). It is destroyed as a result of the Partnership Collective's sabotage of the Toughs' first flagship, causing a massive amount of damage. The Earth courts decided to inflict equal damage on the group of conscience-less lawyer drones — and gave a contract to Tagon's Toughs to destroy one million of them. Cue a Running Gag — a snake with tie will die.
  • This Irregular Webcomic! shows a problem with space elevator: two days of elevator music.
  • In Real Life Comics, Tony builds a space elevator to his space station, except it has a retractable elevator cable, making it more of a "space rope-ladder".
  • xkcd:
    • A comic suggests that, since a space elevator will be built 50 years after everyone stops laughing, all we have to do is put Mind of Mencia on every channel and wait.
    • A later one illustrates a rather severe setback in such an elevator's grand opening.
  • In the backstory of Drowtales, the Val'Nabhan'veaka clan of Chel'el'sussoloth essentially wanted to build one of those, though instead of to space it went to the Surface from the Underworld. Unfortunately, the Skyhole collapsed during construction and set off a series of Disaster Dominoes that continue to resound in the present day.
  • Westward uses a space elevator in place of Space Planes or Teleportation as a means of travel between the titular Cool Starship and a planet's surface. The elevator is portable — it is carried around by the starship, deployed at a planet as needed, then pulled up and stored on board again for the next trip. Needless to say it breaks some rules of physics and engineering (though no more so than transporters and shuttlecraft, perhaps) but it provides a unique alternative with an "analog" feel, which was the author's stated purpose for it.
  • In Escape from Terra Mars has both a space elevator and a "skyhook" that passes over the equator dropping airplanes.
  • One such elevator, named "Starclimber Station", appears in Always Human on an artificial island near Singapore.
  • Vexxarr: The Tact-o-Trons built a space staircase. Transit times are a bit of an issue.

    Web Original 
  • In The Pentagon War, the bigger asteroids in the Human-Centauri star system have space elevators to ferry cargo and passengers from the space stations to the surface. They can get away with it because the surface gravity of these asteroids is only 0.5%-1% of Earth's, so the elevator cables won't snap under their own weight.
  • These are called "beanstalks" in Orion's Arm. They're used on most developed worlds as a cheap method of accessing space. It's also mentioned that the breaking of a beanstalk would cause significant damage, but this has rarely happened in the history of the setting.
  • Atomic Rockets differentiates between the "stream of bullets" and "really long string" types, referring to the first type as "Space Fountains" and the latter as "Beanstalks," although interchangeably with "Space Elevator." The Space Fountain type can use the magnetically accelerated lifting medium as elevator cables by coupling payloads to the particle stream with electromagnets as well. They have the advantages of 1) being able to be built anywhere, not just on the equator, and 2) can be made safer than an unpowered tower with redundant streams. Furthermore, it details the related "Lufstrom Loop" concept, which uses a "ribbon" of steel plates arranged into a conveyor belt, but otherwise acts similar to a fountain-style space elevator. It resembles a huge bridge rather than a giant beanstalk.

    Western Animation 
  • Centurions has one in the episode "Showdown at Skystalk". Its Earth base is in the Andes, and it takes people to and from a space station resort called the Pleasure Star. It's set up more as a train, rather sensibly, as the ride is looong.
  • Generator Rex has one leading to an orbital research station.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life Ed Bighead starts off (literally) at the bottom of Conglom-O, but as he makes good company decisions (using a "Magic Meatball"), he quite literally moves up in the company via an elevator, until the view outside his office is the Earth from space.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Ed spends most of an episode building one out of junk that reaches the moon.
  • In an episode of South Park, Stan, Kyle and Cartman attempt to make a ladder that reaches Heaven out of several items.

    Real Life 
  • Some people have stopped laughing about this concept. There is a growing group of enthusiasts and scientists, ISEC, working on it and a full-blown annual conference. Though it's worth noting that the more serious thought that is developed about space elevators, the more problems are discovered with the concept. Some have proposed other ideas, like the skyhook (essentially a shorter space elevator that doesn't reach the ground), while others have abandoned the idea as infeasible even with near-future technology.
  • A probably better idea is the launch loop. It's still largely unknown to the masses (because a strip of rotating wire is a lot less glamorous than a wire shooting up into the sky), but seems to be a lot more practical, not to mention more feasible at our current technology level (you don't need carbon nanotubes to make it).
  • Even better than those two is a Mass Driver, which is basically a 100 plus kilometer long space gun.
  • Liftport Group proposes to develop a complete Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure - having previously developed some initial proof-of-concept works, such as one that was successfully demonstrated in 2005. The group - having experienced some bumps in the road, along the way - successfully completed a funding project at Kickstarter. However, there has since been no progress.
  • An orbital ring would allow for space elevators that only reach low earth orbit rather than geostationary orbit, allowing them to have lengths measured in the hundreds of kilometres and not need super-strong materials. This is because the orbital ring would be moving faster than orbital speed (or have components that move faster than orbital speed), allowing it to hold up the weight of the elevators.