September 19, 2019 4:45:20 pm
Space agencies across the world are working hard towards returning humans on the Moon. While building a spaceship may be a costly affair for some, scientists have now come up with a new plan which they claim is going to be much economical than building and flying a spaceship. Enter – the elevator.
A pair of young scientists named Zephyr Penoyre and Emily Sandson from the University of Cambridge and Columbia University respectively, through their research paper published late last month, have explained a method of constructing a 322,000 kilometers-long cable that is anchored to the Moon, Observer reported.
Now, why would anyone want to build an elevator all the way to the Moon? Well simply because it is going to be very cost-effective. According to the Observer report, Penoyre, who is the lead author of the study said that the cost of construction of the elevator could be a few billion dollars, which is “within the whim of one particularly motivated billionaire,”.
The elevator has been termed as the Spaceline by the scientists, which can be anchored to the Moon and dangled across space into the gravitational field of the Earth. The dangling elevator at its height would be eliminating the need for a large counterweight near the orbit of the Earth to balance out the massive gravitational pull of our planet if the elevator was to be built from the ground up.
This way would also prevent any relative motion between the surface of Earth and space below the geostationary orbit area from bending or twisting the elevator. Once it gets constructed, the Spaceline elevator will be able to operate with the help of solar energy. Space agencies and scientists would be able to move supplies from Moon to Earth and vice versa at a fraction of the cost used for making and operating a spaceship.
The report also explains that there will not be any problems for the Moon due to its significantly smaller gravitational pull and its orbit being tidally locked, which means that the Moon keeps the same face towards the Earth during its orbit and therefore there is no relative motion of the anchor point.
After making the requisite calculations, the researchers have estimated that the simplest version of the lunar elevator would require a cable that is thinner than a pencil and weigh approximately 88,000 pounds, which is within the capacity of the payload of NASA or SpaceX rocket.
Given that NASA and other space agencies have been planning to make humans reach Mars through a pitstop at the Moon, a space elevator may well be the need of the hour to save on costs.
However, astronauts and scientists who travel to the Earth’s satellite will still be required to ride a rocket but only up to the dangling point of the elevator. From there, they will need to transfer to a robotic vehicle, that would climb through the cable all the way to the lunar surface.
The concept of an elevator to the Moon is not new. back in the 1970s, similar ideas were floated in science fiction and by academics like Jerome Pearson and Yuri Artsutanov.
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