Despite Curiosity, our space program has pretty much moved to private companies. Now there's a company that's trying to raise cash to build an elevator to the moon. They hope to have it ready in less than a decade.
LiftPort's Space Elevator Project is trying to raise $3 million on Kickstarter, and it's already gone past its $8,000 goal for the first phase. A space elevator could take robots, cargo and humans to the surface of the moon, and space tourist dollars could eventually make the project pay off.
On PhysOrg.com, Nancy Owano writes that "the LiftPort system would allow access to the lunar surface via a ribbon cable. (It) would first send a base spacecraft into orbit. A ribbon cable would shoot out towards the lunar surface, and a lander module would attach to the moon's surface. The lander would be drilled into the surface.
"The company plans to use the Kickstarter funds to create a floating balloon platform tethered to the ground, which will assist a robot to climb into the sky. According to company notes, 'the plan is to first build the "bot," then an indoor test rig. Imagine a vertical treadmill.'"
It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel (subscribers, use your coupon to get this beautiful hardcover for less than $5!), but the company is serious. Owano quotes LiftPort CEO Michael Laine as saying, "We will launch another campaign; and another, and another and another."