A new startup company wants to build a space elevator to the Moon. According to officials at LiftPort Group, this can be achieved using existing technologies. The company is led by a former NASA researcher, Michael Laine.
The elevator he proposes could ferry both humans and robots to the lunar surface. As unusual as such as project may appear at first, this is not the first time that a space elevator was proposed. However, the idea is the first-ever to target Earth's natural satellite and planetary orbits.
Japanese experts, for example, have a plan to construct a carbon nanotube-based space elevator, which would ferry cargo and astronauts to low-Earth orbit. This would enable inexpensive access to space.
In a post made on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, Laine writes that his company made a significant breakthrough in terms of technologies needed for constructing such an elevator. This happened less than 6 months ago.
LiftPort Group was shut down during the economic recession, but it's now struggling to raise $8,000 to get things going again. “About six months ago we had a fundamental breakthrough – a breakthrough we think will transform human civilization – and we want you to be a part of it,” Laine said.
The first step in this ambitious project is to construct a balloon platform, which would float around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) above the surface. A long cable would tether it to the ground, providing support for a robot that would climb up and down at high speed, Space reports.
Laine added that the solution the company found for deploying the space elevator has “Sputnik-like simplicity,” referring to the basic, but effective design of the renowned Soviet spacecraft, the first artificial satellite in Earth's orbit.
The company’s official is convinced that this capability could be turned into tangible reality within 8 years. He was formerly employed at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, where he studied various space elevator technologies.
Laine says that the $8,000 needed will be used to put together a team of enthusiasts to work on this project. The former LiftPort Group team moved on to other projects when the company shut down during the recession.
“If we 'only' hit $8,001, then we are going to remain a 'hobby' team. If we can hit this number, then LiftPort is a '…before this decade is out…' Lunar Elevator company'!” the company's president concluded.