The Alexandria Project
The complexity of the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure (LSEI) project is staggering. There are countless questions to be answered including:
No single person could possibly hold all the answers. To begin answering questions, you need people of various expertise, coming from diverse backgrounds, each of whom can comment on different aspects of the project. Even then, it would be naïve to state that we know everything required to build the LSEI, or even that we will know all of the questions, soon. The truth is – the LSEI is so massive, and would be so impactful, that questions are going to keep arising as the project develops. We don’t even have all the questions, let alone all the answers.
Our Philosophy Stands:
We have a lot of information on the system, such as calculations and some engineering technology. What we don’t have is a complete work-up of system requirements; the complexity of the project prevents us from doing so. A requirements document is typically what is used to guide the progression of a project. Therefore, without one, we had to develop our own means of guiding our project as it grows. Our logic was that if we didn’t have all the information that we needed, or all the answers, we could at least organize the questions.
The Alexandria Project is our way of collecting and organizing the questions generated about LSEI and the development of the project. The list of questions will be as extensive and diverse as the team of people working on the project and contributing to the Alexandria database. As these questions are slowly populated with answers, the Alexandria database will ultimately yield the list of system requirements. It is from this list of questions that the LSEI will be made.
The Four Pillars of Infrastructure Development
With the inherent stature and magnitude of LSEI, the smartest thing we can do – at this early stage – is catalog all the questions that come up. The initial idea is to use Alexandria as an easy to navigate database, where the questions about LSEI are categorized into one of four different Pillars of Infrastructure Development.
The first pillar is Hardware, which will include technical questions about LSEI, such as the mathematics, robotics, and engineering, as well as the production and scaling aspects of the project. This pillar is all about functionality of the system itself and the development of the technology required.
The second pillar is the Business aspects including management, costs, budgets, and finances. This pillar tries to capture the organizational issues and questions about how we must conduct ourselves in order to accomplish our goal of building LSEI.
Another pillar is Framework, which is made up of questions regarding regulations, insurance, government and military interaction. These questions characterize many of the socio-political hurdles to overcome and hoops to jump through to build our structure. Lunar infrastructure development is going to inherently require dealing with numerous governmental and military bodies to ensure that everything we construct is safe and controlled.
The final pillar is Outreach. In this category, we will collect questions regarding the inevitable media, social, and cultural implications of building an Elevator on the Moon.
Once these pillars are established within the database, and they have been populated with questions, they become the scaffolding from which LSEI is built. The same professionals (our Technical Advisory Council) who helped come up with the questions will start to answer those questions and develop solutions. The concept of the Alexandria Project is that as more solutions are generated, more questions will be generated as well. Therefore, to expedite this process, the solution reached for each question will be, what we refer to as a, “Minimum Viable Answers” (MVA).
We recognize that the questions we are trying to answer are vast, complicated, and much bigger than ourselves. The complexity – and therefore resulting answers – will lead to unforeseen outcomes. There are a lot of variables in this project. There will be, for a long time. Therefore, answers in the Alexandria process are not finalized. Initially, they don’t even necessarily need to be great answers. They need to be adequate answers; answers must be ‘good enough’ for now. With time, and as details of the project mature, these answers will be narrowed into the ‘right’ answer.
These answers will function to build the information scaffolding, generate more questions, and act as a place-holder until we have learned more and can improve.
For now, the Alexandria Project is simply a repository for questions. These questions will have working answers, not hard-and-fast answers, and will provide a collaborative space for the individuals working on this project to share ideas and curiosities. The database will track who is working on which questions and facilitate collaboration and information sharing. The vision of the Alexandria Project is a trajectory leading from a database of questions to becoming the builder’s manual for the entire LSEI project, filled with concrete, confirmed and tested answers for every possible question one could have about constructing an Elevator on the Moon. First, we must find the (first-stage) questions. Then, we answer them. Then, we simulate, test and refine those answers until we are sure of them. We are then left with a complete guide to operating and building a Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure.