http://www.spacedaily.com/news/materials-03w.html Seems the space elevators of science fiction fame may not be so far off, after all. "The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) commissioned Dr Bradley C Edwards to study all aspects of the construction and operation of a space elevator, and Phase I of the report was published in late 2002. The report very specifically addresses design and operations, which had until then escaped close scrutiny. Firstly, the elevator would not be a cable. It starts as a 1-micron thick piece of tape 91,000km long, tapering from 5cm wide at the Earth's surface to 11.5cm wide near the middle. This tape would be taken up by shuttle together with some booster rockets. It would then be 'flown-down' to the surface whilst the booster rockets provide the required counterbalance beyond geosynchronous orbit. Centripetal force throws the higher part of the tape away from the Earth, whilst the effect of gravity on the lower mass of the tape keeps it in tension. This first link is capable of supporting 1238kg before breaking."