Want to get to outer space? Well, just hop into the lift. That’s not as far-fetched as it sounds as the concept of a space elevator has advanced dramatically in recent years in the design of carbon nanotubes. It’s believed that the recent Columbia disaster could spur its faster development.

Wired.com reports that using the lightweight, strong carbon material, it’s feasible to talk of building a metre-wide “ribbon” that would start on a mobile ocean platform at the equator, west of Ecuador, and extend 62 000 miles up into space. Experts say a lift could be attached to this ribbon to transport materials and parts for space station or even people up into space. It’s hoped that the project could become a reality within 15 years.