While Americans reel from the prospect of a $700 billion bailout, things are lookin’ up in Japan. The Japanese plan on building a space elevator for the relative bargain price of $9.5 billion.
The carbon nanotubes needed to tether an orbiting satellite would have to be 4x as strong as currently available but given Japan’s financial commitment I have no doubt they’ll succeed.
NASA on the other hand coughed up a mere $2 million in prize money this year for the American version: Elevator:2010 challenge (sigh). You can almost hear Japan pushing that elevator button and America getting the doors shut in its face.