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A Lunar Space Elevator Is Actually Feasible and Inexpensive, Scientists Find

Published by Slashdot on Thu, 19 Sep 2019


An anonymous reader shares a report: In a paper [PDF] published on the online research archive arXiv, Columbia astronomy students Zephyr Penoyre and Emily Sandford proposed the idea of a "lunar space elevator," which is exactly what it sounds like -- a very long elevator connecting the moon and our planet. The concept of a moon elevator isn't new. In the 1970s, similar ideas were floated in science fiction (Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise, for example) and by academics like Jerome Pearson and Yuri Artsutanov. But the Columbia study differs from previous proposal in an important way: instead of building the elevator from the Earth's surface (which is impossible with today's technology), it would be anchored on the moon and stretch some 200,000 miles toward Earth until hitting the geostationary orbit height (about 22,236 miles above sea level), at which objects move around Earth in lockstep with the planet's own rotation. Dangling the space elevator at this height would eliminate the need to place a large counterweight near Earth's orbit to balance out the planet's massive gravitational pull if the elevator were to be built from ground up. This method would also prevent any relative motion between Earth's surface and space below the geostationary orbit area from bending or twisting the elevator. These won't be problems for the moon because the lunar gravitational pull is significantly smaller and the moon's orbit is tidally locked, meaning that the moon keeps the same face turned toward Earth during its orbit, therefore no relative motion of the anchor point.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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