# HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE TO BICYCLE TO THE MOON?

WIRED | 7/18/2019 | Rhett Allain
Level 3
Click For Photo: https://media.wired.com/photos/5d2f660e5b1d290008e181fd/191:100/pass/Science_biketomoon-1143364417.jpg

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the surface of the moon. I still find that amazing—both the moon landing and the fact that it was half a century ago. In honor of that historic moment, and mindful of our carbon footprint as plans develop for a return trip, I thought I would estimate how long it might take to get there by bike.

What? Yup. As President Kennedy said, we do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And it brings up some great physics questions! I'll walk you through the basics, and then I'll leave you some questions for homework.

#### Implementation - Issues - Way - Cable - Earth

So let's just get some implementation issues out of the way. We'd need to string a cable between Earth and the moon, obviously. And you, if you chose to accept this mission, would have a nifty white NASA bike with special grippy wheels to ride along the cable. (We'll assume no energy loss to friction.) Oh, and the wheels only roll one way, so you won’t come crashing down if you pause to rest.

Just to be clear, this scheme wouldn't have worked out time-wise for the Apollo program. President Kennedy vowed to put a human on the moon before the decade was out, and as it was, NASA barely made it. Luckily, it took the Apollo 11 spacecraft just four days to get there. Making the trip by bike would have blown through that deadline. But exactly how late would would we have been?

#### Starters - Facts - First - Moon - Moon

For starters, we need some facts to work with. First, how far away is the moon? Since the moon's orbit around Earth isn't perfectly circular, there’s no one answer. But let's go with an average distance of 240,000 miles (386,000 km)—that's the number I...