"A giant inflatable tower could carry people to the edge of space without the need for a rocket, and could be completed much sooner than a cable-based space elevator."
"Twenty kilometres up is about as dark as outer space. You can see about 600 kilometres in any direction," Quine says. Tourists could get a view almost like that from space, but without the difficulties of coping with zero gravity. He calculates the tower could be extended up to low Earth orbit at 200 kilometres.
The tower does a similar job to the much-vaunted space elevator. But while the elevator envisages using ribbons woven from superstrong nanotubes - a material that is as yet non-existent - the tower would use materials that are already available. And should something go wrong with the tower, failure of a few modules would not cause the whole structure to collapse."