It would be much easier to escape Earth's gravity if you could skip the energy-intensive missiles.
That's the idea behind the Spaceline, a newly proposed type of space elevator that would connect the Earth and the Moon in one place. The offer drastically reduced the cost of space travel.
In a study published by researchers from Columbia University and Cambridge University on the Preprint server ArXiv the spaceline was attached to the surface of the moon and dangling down into a geostationary orbit the earth like a plumb bob, waiting for astronauts to join in and ride into the cosmos. The proof-of-concept paper found that the Spaceline could be constructed from materials that exist today, increasing the potential for easier space travel and perhaps even orbital settlements.
Instead of rocketing the entire path out of orbit, only astronauts would need to reach the endpoint of the spaceline, reducing the cost and challenges of rocket launches. Once it reaches the vacuum of space that is free of gravity and atmospheric pressure, the spaceship hits the cable and locks into a solar-powered shuttle that rises along its length.
Zephyr Penoyre, one of Colombia's astronomy graduates behind the Spaceline, told Futurism, "The track becomes part of the infrastructure, much like an early railroad. The movement of people and goods on it is much easier and easier than the same journey in space. "
Earth space elevators would be too tiring for any existing material ̵
Based on the calculations in the work, this seems to exist. Several existing materials may be suitable for the challenge – it's all about finding the strongest that can be made in scale.
"That's a good way to express it. The only thing to add is that it has to be able to survive well in space, "said Penoyre. "I've briefly dealt with it, but I'm not an expert in materials science. I have often used Dyneema as sample material for calculations and it has some pretty good features.
As for the line itself, the researchers studied a number of shapes and eventually came to a cable that was extremely narrow at both ends, did not collapse under gravitational pressure, but thickened in the middle to prevent snapping. At that time, astronomers did not consider space debris collisions in near-Earth orbit, but Penoyre pointed to other projects that had tackled the challenge.
If everything works and the space line comes to fruition one day, the researchers will envision a future in which humanity will use it as a link to orbital telescopes, research centers, and other facilities that might hover at the Lagrange point in which moon and earth exert an equal but opposite gravitational force.
"Remember the early Antarctic base camps, where there may initially be only three engineers, but unlike Earth orbit, the Lagrange point is the perfect place to build," said Penoyre. "We could imagine (with a little imagination) how prefabricated panels were sent up the line and assembled into a growing colony. I was astonished to discover that in the Antarctic now thousands of people live a significant part of the year – ultimately this could also apply to the Lagrange point.
More about space lifts: Why Space lifts could be the future of spaceflight