Scientists draw up plans for a bizarre & # 39; space elevator & # 39; that can take astronauts from Earth's orbit to the lunar surface – but it would take a few DAYS to get there
- The traditional space elevator concept would connect the ground with the orbit of the earth
- However, we cannot currently build such a & # 39; n cable that can support its weight
- A & # 39; space line & # 39; would avoid most of the earth's gravity by going from orbit to the moon
- The use of solar powered & # 39; s cars would reduce fuel costs by a third
In a proposal for an unusual type of space elevator, a cable would connect the moon to a docking station in the Earth's orbit.
Astronauts and cargo that are flown to the dock can then be brought to the surface of the moon in a solar powered lift car.
The use of this so-called & # 39; space line & # 39; would reduce the rocket fuel needed for a journey between the earth and the moon by a third.
However, the journey in the lift can take several days or even weeks, which means that the lift cars must be able to support people during the long journey.
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An unusual type of space elevator would see a cable between the moon and a docking station in the Earth's orbit. Pictured, the impression of an artist of the earth as seen from the lunar surface
The traditional concept of a space elevator imagines a cable connecting the earth to a point directly above it, extending beyond the geostationary orbit of the earth.
However, at present we cannot make a cable that is strong enough to bear its own weight.
Instead, astrophysicists Zephyr Penoyre and Emily Sandford of Columbia University in New York propose building the elevator in the opposite direction, from the orbit to the surface of the moon.
This would avoid the challenging gravitational forces found close to the earth.
& # 39; A cable that only hangs in the grounding well does not have to be thick or solid & # 39 ;, Penoyre and Sandford write in their draft text.
& # 39; It is optimal to make it as thin as possible because it extends closer to the earth. This means that the gravitational force that the cable feels, and therefore the tension, is much reduced. & # 39;
At the end of such a lift – the researchers see the & # 39; space line & # 39; – a docking station would allow Earth's missiles to allow the shuttle to astronauts, cargo and scientific equipment.
This would then be transported along the huge cable to the surface of the moon, at a fraction of the energy cost of sending a rocket on the same trip.
The only drawback of the room line concept, however, is that the lift ride would take considerably longer than driving in a normal room lift in an orbit around the orbit.
The journey in the elevator car would probably take a few days to cover the distance.
The traditional concept of a space elevator, as in this artist's impression, represents a cable that connects the earth with directly above it, extending beyond the geostationary orbit of the earth
& # 39; Building a space line would be a huge technical challenge that goes beyond the limits of current human capacity – but does not exceed it & # 39 ;, the researchers wrote.
Zelfs Even in its most economical form, a cable with a width that is only slightly more than a pencil, it can cost billions of dollars for material and transport – and it is difficult to quantify what additional costs such a project could incur & # 39;
& # 39; But a billion dollar price tag is not unreachable – and the possibilities of what could be done with such a structure can yield dividends quickly. & # 39;
However, a problem in maintaining the room line would be dealing with damage caused by micro-meteoroid impacts – which would even break the cable in the event of a collision.
The researchers suggest that the cable could consist of several strands, so that one can break with the strength of the whole being damaged.
The full findings of the study are being prepared for submission in the journal Acta Astronautics.
A pre-print of the article, which has not yet been assessed by peers, can be read on the arXiv repository.
WHY BUILD A SPACE?
Lower transportation costs
It takes a little less fuel to reach the space line than going to a geostationary orbit.
Transport along the cable would be free, the lift cars were designed to work on solar energy.
This would reduce the fuel needed to reach the lunar surface to a third of the current value.
Simple and safer journeys
Movement between points on the space line is easier and safer than moving, linking and navigating through empty space.
Transport from and to the surface of the moon
Small loads can be sent to and from the moon.
The ability to transport material to and from the deep space of the moon without having to use rockets changes the economy of the scientific and industrial projects that can be carried out on the surface of the moon.
The technological endeavor
A project like this will inevitably present technical challenges.
Overcoming them will promote our technological capabilities.
A difficult but feasible task requires us to make and master new techniques, and rewards us for that.
A & # 39; base camp & # 39; set up at the Lagrange point
The Earth-Moon Lagrange is a gravitational-stationary point where the tug of war between the earth and the gravity of the moon is balanced.
If you go through it, the space line effectively makes the Earth-Moon Lagrange point stable.
In this gravity-free environment, we can build habitats and equipment of any mass.
Previous space stations are limited by tight conditions and dangerous environments.
The Lagrange point, on the other hand, is a refuge for expansion and cultivation.
Such a base camp would allow the construction and maintenance of a new generation of space-based experiments.
These can be telescopes, particle accelerators, gravity detectors, vivaria, power generators and launch points for missions to the rest of the solar system.
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