The United Arab Emirates has proven over and over that it's more than willing to take on some of humanity's most ambitious projects. Now, a New York-based design firm wants Dubai to consider constructing a colossal floating skyscraper hanging from an asteroid.
No, this isn't a joke and the firm actually has some credibility. Clouds Architecture Office recently worked with NASA to design a conceptual Martian habitat called the Mars Ice Home.
This new proposed project, dubbed Analemma Tower, would suspend from an asteroid via a high strength cable. Relying on something called the Universal Orbital Support System, the asteroid would be nudged into orbit around the earth. Throughout the day, the tower would float in a massive figure-eight pattern, returning to rest over Dubai every 24 hours.
More about the tower construction
The highest point of the tower would be about 32,000 meters above the earth. To put that in perspective, Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, is only 8,848 meters high.
According to the design firm's website, the tower could technically be built anywhere in the world. But Dubai is the location of choice because it "has proven to be a specialist in tall building construction at one fifth the cost of New York City construction."
While the tower may require a lot of money and resources to construct, it would be powered by renewable solar energy.
Space-based solar panels would be "installed above the dense and diffuse atmosphere, these panels would have constant exposure to sunlight, with a greater efficiency than conventional PV installations."
And for water? The tower would recycle and re-use its water supply via a semi-closed loop system.
With business, sleeping and recreational quarters, the tower would essentially be an independent city. It's unclear from the plans how residents would travel from their hanging home to the ground below ... but hey, details.
Is it even possible?
Theoretically, it seems the tower could be built. But such an incredible feat has, of course, never been attempted.
There are several challenges. Moving an asteroid into orbit has never been done, but NASA plans to retrieve and reposition an asteroid in 2021. In 2014, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission demonstrated it is definitely feasible to land on an asteroid.
Would Dubai be up for it?
It definitely seems like the type of project Dubai would get excited about.
Despite the fact that the emirate is already home to the world's tallest building, it's planning to outdo its own record by 2020. Additionally, the UAE has shown that it aims to be a pioneer in cutting-edge technology and space exploration.
The world's first Hyperloop is being constructed in the UAE. The transportation technology is the brainchild of billionaire business magnate and investor Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X. When completed, passengers should be able transit between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in just 15 minutes.
Additionally, the UAE's space agency plans to send a spacecraft to explore Mars in 2020. And in February, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, announced that the nation plans to build a city on Mars by 2117.
In the past, Sheikh Mohammed has said: "We are building a new reality for our people, a new future for our children, and a new model of development."
A floating tower suspended from an asteroid definitely seems like an ambitious "new reality" to us.