The Liftport Group is a company that has a pretty monumental task ahead of it. Grown out of a NASA study, Liftport has made its mission the development of a truly cheap and reusable way to bring humans and cargo to space, through elevators. While we haven’t gotten to a point technologically where Earth-bound space elevators would be feasible, Liftport says we are ready to do the next best thing, build one on the moon. Now through a Kickstarter campaign with the modest goal of $8,000, they are looking for your help to fund a company that could make a moon elevator a reality.
At $8,000, Liftport’s Kickstarter campaign is more of an excitement generator and a community builder, than an actual project funder. The company’s president Michael Laine says that they have made a fundamental breakthrough that would allow them to make the moon elevator a reality, but after the company dissolved in 2007 they need to rebuild their connections in the community and gather support in order to bring Liftport Group back to life. Laine says that a $3 million feasibility study will be needed next year to make their timeline goals, and if it’s successful we could be looking at a moon elevator in about 8 years time. That’s soon enough to make those heavy lift rockets that NASA and SpaceX are working on obsolete before they are even finished.
So why should you care about a space elevator if it’s on the Moon? Well for starters, a moon-based space elevator would ensure that the white knuckle landing that Neil Armstrong pulled off on the first moon landing will never happen again. Not only would if be a safer and more sure way to get from lunar orbit to the moon’s surface, the absence of a lander and a launcher would free up so much space on a lunar mission that either the cost of the launches would be drastically reduced or you could use the space to increase the scientific payload of a moon mission that much more. This could be the revolutionary technology that turns the replacement for the ISS into an actual moon base.
So far Liftport’s Kickstarter campaign has received almost $30,000 in support with 15 days left to go. Not bad for a little community building exercise. Here’s a concept video of Liftport’s moon elevator in action.