Could the well-known sci-fi trope of space elevators be coming closer to reality?
I’m skeptical, since 20 miles up is still far from space, and they would need to find a way to stabilize the upper platform, not to mention an inventive way to support the tower itself and allow repair/self-repair if struck by a falling object. If by ‘inflatable’, they mean inflated with helium to counteract its weight, then that could be closer to feasibility, acting as something of a base camp for space launches (better than an equatorial island), where the lower air resistance and lower fuel requirements to reach orbital velocity and altitude will make a significant difference. Maybe it would even open up the possibility of lifting the components of your vehicle up in the elevator for assembly and launch at the top?
As some of the comments on the article have pointed out, it could be simply a publicity stunt, since filing worthless patents is not exactly a new phenomenon, but it’s nice to dream for a while, isn’t it?