In 2003 a forward thinking company sought to get out in front of the others and provide a service that others had realized they needed. Unfortunately they soon disappeared in 2007, but not before they had tested their concept for a Lunar Space Elevator (successfully I might add). Fast forward a few years and look who was back in 2012 – LiftPort, and none too soon!
So here we are in 2014 America. NASA and its many commercial partners plan on going to the moon. This would involve the transfer of a lot of cargo, from the mining equipment to the lab equipment, to devices needs to make the living quarters (I’m guessing they’ll go for robotic workers to create room & pillar – until the deflector technology is completed) However, NASA & America don’t represent all the Moon’s future inhabitants. There are the other countries, Japan, Russia, China, and others and the cargo each one brings to the moon. All in all it sounds like cargo transfer could be an expensive item. Unless…
Unless one were to have a moon-based elevator that could transfer the cargo from Earth. Then in the future as resources are mined transfer some of cargo to Earth from the moon. This promises an easier & far less expensive method. According to LiftPort, it is both easier and harder than you think and they are the ones who can do it.
First of all the technology involved is COTS (Commercial off the shelf) with a simplicity that has been available since Sputnik. (Aren't all the best things?) What is needed? A climbing Vehicle, the tether that that vehicle will climb up and down (with cargo), an anchor station on the moon and another anchored up in a Lagrange point PicoGravity lab. This is all they need to make soft landings on the Moon possible and less expensive.
Consider this; a SpaceX rocket delivers cargo up to the LaGarge Point, it is loaded onto the Lunar lift and from there is transferred to the Moon’s surface. Simple!
AND think beyond cargo, think human cargo too! Astronauts of all countries going to Earth's Greatest Observatory (ISS will be decommissioned in 2024) taking the LiftPort LSEI (Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure).
Right now LiftPort has managed to obtain enough funds from a Kickstarter campanign to focus on their LSEI idea but obviously more funds are needed and hopefully everyone will ‘donate’ from the companies who plan on taking cargo there to Joe or Jane citizen. We should all want to be a small part of what is sure to be history.
There are thoughts of a space elevator on Mars and another on Earth, but these locations face more difficulties (particularly Earth). The Moon is the perfect place for the first of this kind of structure given its needs are for off the shelf materials (it has 1/6th the gravity of Earth) not previously undeveloped and untried materials that were worked on in a lab.
The credo spouted on LiftPort’s website is one that is quite philosophical: "There is a profound difference between difficult, very, very hard, and impossible." This project is seen as very, very hard, but far from impossible.
The final piece in this proposed solution to the endless amounts of materials going to & from the Moon is an initiative that has been called for by NASA - Lunar CATALYST (Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown). This call went out to the commercial sector and will lead to a no-funds exchanged Space Act Agreement. (SAA)
I will make a comment here. Of all possible solutions none is greater than this one by my measure. Ultimately a case could be made once travel to the moon becomes frequent for not only an Earth Space Elevator, but also for a Space Bridge. In my book – Space Team Alpha-Target Earth there is a space bridge between two elevators using LaGrange points for delivery. There is also gravity – and the book explains how, but that’s another topic!