Scientists Propose Space Elevator for Moon Travel

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. bridge / brɪdʒ / (v) – to connect two things

    They plan to build a structure that will bridge the two buildings to make transporting cargo faster.

  2. orbit / ˈɔr bɪt / (v) – to move in a circular path around something

    Planets orbit the Sun.

  3. visualize / ˈvɪʒ u əˌlaɪz / (v) – to make mental images of something

    The scientists created a flying car that is exactly the same as how people had visualized it decades ago.

  4. enthusiastic / ɛnˌθu ziˈæs tɪk / (adj) – excited

    Many people are enthusiastic about the new smartphone that the company will release.

  5. astronomical / ˌæs trəˈnɒm ɪ kəl / (adj) – very big or high

    We take good care of all our airplanes because the cost of repairing one is usually astronomical.


Read the text below.

Scientists have proposed building a space elevator to make traveling to the Moon easier.

Researchers from Columbia University and Cambridge University published a paper that proposed the construction of the Spaceline, a space elevator that will bridge the Moon and a docking station orbiting the Earth. The Spaceline will feature a solar-powered elevator car that could transport astronauts and cargo from the station to the Moon’s surface.

Prior to the proposal of the Spaceline, the idea of a moon elevator was first conceived separately by two Russian scientists. One of them imagined a structure built from the Earth to the Moon’s surface, while the other visualized one attached to an orbiting station, much like how the Spaceline is proposed to be.

According to the researchers, the Spaceline can make travel from Earth to the Moon cheaper. Using the Spaceline to reach the Moon is expected to take only one-third of the fuel needed when traveling via rocket. Through this technology, astronauts only need to fly to the docking station. From there, they can travel and transport their cargo through the Spaceline’s solar-powered elevator car.

Although the researchers are enthusiastic about the Spaceline, they admit that it has some drawbacks. One is the astronomical cost of constructing the moon elevator. The construction expenses are expected to reach billions of dollars. In addition, elevator cars would need to have life support technology to sustain their passengers throughout the trip as it might take several days or even weeks to complete the journey to the Moon. Safety is also an issue since microscopic meteoroids might hit the Spaceline and break it.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that the development and construction of the Spaceline should push through? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, is spending billions of dollars on a project like this a good idea? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• If you could invent a new way to travel to the Moon, what would it be? Give details.
• Aside from technology for space travel, what do you think are other important technologies that should be created for space exploration (e.g. supporting life in space)? Discuss.