Science fiction author Neal Stephenson has announced plans to develop a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) rocket-launching skyscraper. And hey, why not? If built with high-grade steel, Stephenson explains, the so-called "Tall Tower"—clearly the name must still be in the works—could someday stand 24 times as tall as the Burj Khalifa, currently the world's tallest manmade structure. The insanely lofty tower's most immediate competitor in man's ongoing quest to outbuild each other is, of course, China's much-anticipated Sky City Tower—busy with its own ambitions to squeak past the Burj by about 33 feet.
About the whole rocket-launching thing? Stephenson and the team he's been paired with through Project Hieroglyph, a research program that partners science fiction writers with scientists and engineers at Arizona State University's Center for Science and the Imagination, explain that because the Tall Tower would be so, well, tall, it could serve as the most economic way to launch rockets into space. And while the Tall Tower team does concede that natural elements—namely wind—make a building like this harder to construct, they still seem pretty darn optimistic. "The future of space travel, at this writing, is up for grabs with NASA eyeing destinations more distant than the International Space Station and commercial space travel just starting to get some traction," says an ASU engineer. "It is an interesting time to consider ideas like the Tall Tower." To the future!
· Science-Fiction Author Proposes 20-Kilometre Rocket-Launching Skyscraper [Dezeen]
· From Pop-Up Cities to Man-Made Island Domes: Exploring the Limits, if Any, of Humankind's Capacity to Build [Curbed National]
· All Sky City Tower coverage [Curbed National]
· All Burj Khalifa coverage [Curbed National]