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Astrophysicists say today's technology makes possible a single space elevator concept



Getting spacecraft into orbit is unbelievably costly and difficult, and that's why scientists keep coming up with the idea of ​​a space elevator that makes it easier to lift people and equipment out of the earth's atmosphere. Now researchers have found a twist on the concept that, at least theoretically, can be implemented with today's technology.

Astrophysicists Zephyr Penoyre of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and Emily Sandford of Columbia University in New York are not building a space elevator from Earth but a "space line" from the moon.

Based According to researchers, such a construction is technically and economically feasible with the tools and materials available today ̵

1; which can not be said for the space elevator concept.

The advantage of a space line over a space elevator is that it orbits the earth only once a month – because it is bound to the moon, not to the earth – and that means less strain from centrifugal forces.

It would not touch our planet but dangling down geostationary orbit – some 42,164 kilometers above the surface – ready to transport everything necessary to the wider regions of space.

"By extending a line anchored on the Moon into the depths of the earth Well, we can construct a stable, traversable cable that allows a free movement from near the earth to the lunar surface," write Penoyre and Sandford in their work.

"It would reduce the fuel needed to reach the lunar surface to one third of its present value."

Crucially, the super-strong materials we already have, including the Cylon carbon polymer, would work in the scenario.

When researchers encounter the so-called Lagrangian point, where the gravitational forces of the Earth and the Moon nearly balance each other out, they believe that sufficient stability for operation can be achieved.

 Space-line mathematics (Penoyre & Sandford, arXiv.org, 2019)

There would be a kind of base camp, according to the researchers:

The base camp would enable the construction and maintenance of a new generation of space-based experiments – imagine telescopes, particle accelerators, gravitational wave detectors, vivariums, power generation and starting points for missions into the rest of the solar system. "

The counterweight of a base camp w This could also help to keep the long cable anchored and stable – it has to stretch over 300,000 kilometers.

As an added bonus, there is the risk of being struck by space objects (such as meteors) and the cable could be made to withstand minor blows, the researchers suggest.

The idea of ​​a lunar aura line is not entirely new, but this latest study shows that it costs now However, it should be remembered that this is just a proof-of-concept and the work has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, which has received industry feedback on the pre-print server arXiv .org.

In other words, work on a space line will not start soon, but it could give us a more viable alternative to the cost Space exploration offers the least space exploration – and at least mathematics checks that.

"We have calculated the tension and strain of the space line and demonstrated this with modern materials could be constructed within the fundamental boundaries of the materials," the researchers conclude.

The research is available on the pre-print server arXiv.org.


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