It turns out that, despite what you might think, people have been taking seriously the idea of space elevators for quite some time. A new report commissioned by the International Academy of Astronautics is just serving as an updated reminder.
The IAA got together a group of "diverse" experts to study the feasibility of space elevators. They concluded that we should have the materials necessary, such as carbon nanotubes, to build such an elevator by the 2020s and that it would be cheaper and more energy efficient than rockets.
How exactly would it work? The experts suggested anchoring at the equator a long, strong tether that would extend 62,000 miles above the Earth. A counterweight at the other end would keep the center of mass with the Earth so the tether stays in the same position relative to the equator.
However long it takes, we just need to make sure we beat Japan. The country said it could build its own space elevator by 2050. We'd hate to see anyone else get the first chance for the most epic elevator button prank of all time.