At Inhabitat we’ve seen several stories about planned space elevators, but this is the first time we’ve heard about one that could actually come to fruition using the technology we have available today. The LiftPort Group, which is headed by former NASA researcher Michael Laine, believes that it could build a space elevator on the moon – and they’re currently in the process of raising $8,000 on crowd-funding website Kickstarter for its first step, which will create a floating balloon platform tethered to the ground so that a robot can climb 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) into the sky.

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The project’s final aim will be much bolder, but remember, we’re only talking about $8,000 here. “Before we can build Earth’s Elevator, we’ll need to build one on the Moon,” explains Laine. “It is significantly easier, and much much cheaper. Importantly – we can build it with current technology – in about eight years.”

“To meet our target date, we need to complete a 1-year Feasibility Study, beginning next year,” he goes on. “That will cost $3M. I don’t expect to raise that through this Kickstarter campaign. But I’m throwing it out there so you know what’s ahead for this program. This Lunar Elevatoris a new effort. It is part of LiftPort’s revival program. This system can be built now, while Earth’s Elevator requires several more breakthroughs. We think we should focus on building this Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure (LSEI or “Elsie”) as a prerequisite to the main goal.”

There are many benefits to building a space elevator on the moon rather than on Earth. As there is less gravity and practically no atmosphere, there are no major factors that would otherwise place great stress on whatever material makes up the space elevator’s tether. But first thing’s, first. The company still needs to get their balloon platforms working and there will be huge benefits if they are successful. They would be able to act as cheap communications “towers” on Earth to help provide wireless Internet, monitor crops, watch out for forest fires and potentially carry cameras to provide an eye in the sky in the aftermath of natural disasters.

The LiftPort Group is not alone in its long-term space elevator quest. Seattle-based LaserMotive previously won the Space Elevator Games, a NASA-sponsored contest and Japan’s Obayashi Corp has set the goal of building a space elevator by 2050.

+ The LiftPort Group’s Kickstarter Project

via Yahoo News