No Joke - An Elevator to the Moon
It can not really be said that this is a new idea. As early as 1895, the idea was put forward by Konstantin Tsoilkovsky. Then, in 1960 further analysis was provided by the scientist Yuri Artsutanov in a Sunday supplement he wrote in Pravda.
In 1966 John Isaacs published an article in “Science” about the concept. None of these though really reached the scientific world at large.
In 1972 James Cline submitted a paper to NASA describing a lunar elevator concept. This though was rejected by NASA citing risk and cost.
Finally in 1975, Jerome Pearson published in “Acta Astranautica” the concept for a space elevator and this reached the scientific world in general and even inspired Sir Arthur Clarke to write “The Fountains of Paradise”.
Sir Arthur C Clarke
The theory is that a one meter wide thin strip of strong material could be anchored to a base on Earth and stretch into space. Specially developed vehicles could then “climb” these strips carrying space craft materials or even people into space. This of course would be more cost effective than using rockets each time. It has been estimated that by use of an elevator such as this, the cost of putting something into space would be perhaps $100 per kilo, as opposed to the $10,000 to $40,000 per kilo today.
Robert Cassanova, a director of the “NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts” has now said that there is nothing wrong with the physics of such a concept.
David Raitt a senior technology officer for the “European Space Agency” believes that it is only a matter of time before one comes into existence.
The problem has always been finding a material strong enough that was suitable for the job.
This changed though with “Nanotubes”. These are sheets of graphite rolled into tubes which although are only nanometers in diameter, they are 100 times stronger than steel but lighter. The trouble with this though is, there isn’t enough of it, as yet, to make the elevator.
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Now a California based private company “The Liftport Group”, headed by a former NASA researcher, Michael Laine, is planning to make a space elevator to the Moon within 8 years.
The plan is to make a space elevator to link the Moon to a special space station, that space station will then be linked to a platform on Earth.
President of the company Michael Laine says that the project should only require the launch of one space craft, approximate in size to the famous Soviet Sputnik 1.
Although it has been confirmed that the plan relies on the use of “ribbons”, the actual material to be used can only be speculated at, several possibilities are M5 Fiber, T1000g carbon fiber, Spectra 200 or Zylon, all of which are very thin and very strong.
The company plans to first make a test with a cable reaching 2 kilometers high. This, they say, will be funded by investors over the internet. After which investors will be sought to build “The Elevator to the Moon”.
Funding should not be hard when it is considered that this project could lead to many future ventures.
Included in these ventures may be tourism and satellites capable of capturing solar energy.
Perhaps the most profitable venture though may be the mining of the Moon.
Helium 3 is a raw material that is known to exist on the Moon and can be used as a source of energy on the Earth. Experts estimate that the natural resources of Helium 3, on the Moon could solve all the Earth’s energy problems for a minimum of 1000 years.
I think that the only question left is: which will be built first, a hotel or a mine?
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