Michael Laine believes a lunar elevator – a space elevator from the surface of the Moon – could be created with materials that are available now. With more research and the right amount of capital, Laine says a lunar elevator could be built within a decade.
* the Moon’s gravity is only one sixth that of Earth, it drastically reduces the requirements of the ribbon. A material that is available now, a synthetic polymer material called Zylon (poly(p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole) which has high strength and excellent thermal stability, could be used.
* The biggest hurdle could be getting access to the 6 cubic meters of the Zylon material.
* A lunar elevator would use a ribbon at least 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles) long extending through the Earth-Moon L1 LaGrange point from an anchor point near the center of the visible part of Earth’s moon. A smaller Atlas or Delta rocket could send the components the L1 point, and the Zylon ribbon would be spooled from that point towards the Moon and the Earth.
* This is a very small system, capable of transporting 200-250 kilos
* Once the initial ribbon is up and running, Laine said you could send up more ribbon to strengthen it
* the entire first section could be launched with one Atlas rocket
* Laine and a core group of space elevator enthusiasts are starting a series of workshops to discuss this concept and tackle some of the significant questions
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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