Monthly Archives: October 2006

Recens – The Climber we never saw…

There’s an old joke that goes something like this; “What do you call someone who speaks three languages?  Answer – Trilingual.  What do you call someone who speaks two languages?  Answer – Bilingual.  What do you call someone who speaks one language?  Answer – American.”

I was reminded of this joke by a recent email conversation I had with Elisenda Bou from the Spanish Recens team.  In her emails to me, she apologized for her “English”.  I pointed out to her that “her English” was good enough to allow us to converse and was, in any event, much better than “my Spanish.”

As followers of this year’s Space Elevator games know, Recens supposedly had their Climber “lost” by UPS somewhere between the shipping point in Spain and the receiving point in Las Cruces, New Mexico (the particular story I heard was that it was “lost in Kentucky”).  I had written earlier that I was very upset with UPS for losing this Climber – how badly does this reflect on American competence when one of our corporations does something like this?  As with many stories like this, however, it is not always as it first appears.  It seems the problems started in Europe when, upon the advice of their Cargo Agent, Recens declared the value of their shipment to be no more than $100.00 (to try and bypass any customs issues).  The package was opened in Germany and was worth obviously more than that and this is where the trouble began.  According to Elisenda, this is where their Climber is now.  I wonder how the story of “lost in Kentucky” got started?  Or, maybe it made it that far and then got shipped back to Germany?  Anyway, as I have unwittingly passed along something (UPS lost the Climber in Kentucky) that now appears to be untrue, I wanted to post the facts as I now understand them.

In any event, Recens seems to have taken their setback very graciously and worked with USST and other teams (see Matt Abrams posting over at the Starclimber blog) in order to be a positive force at the just-concluded Space Elevator games.  Elisenda did confirm that they temporarily purchased the USST climber so that they could share the resource they did have at the Games, their spotlights.

Elisenda also emailed me some pictures of their Climber, shown below.  Recens prime sponsor was a museum in Spain and so their Climber, when it’s returned to them (not the USST Climber) is going to be shown at this museum, first at their Madrid location and then at their Barcelona location.

Click on the picture thumbnails to view a larger version.













Comment Analysis

Over at the LiftPort Blog, Manuel Antonio Cuba (Latin American Research Coordinator) has posted a very interesting analysis of comments relating to the Space Elevator concept that were posted on Spanish-language sites.  It’s too long for me to summarize his analysis in a short blog posting, so I recommend that you jump over there and read it for yourself.  One set of statistics that stood out, though, were that “3 % of people who made negative comments think that we should burn in hell.”  I’m not going to worry about that one too much…

Centennial Challenges – making progress but under threat

Over at, TopSpacer writes that “…funding for the Centennial Challenges program will be zeroed out for 2007 if the current Senate version of the NASA appropriations bill becomes law.”  He further writes, however, “Regardless of this bill, the pool of money for the CC will keep the current Challenges going till 2010. However, there will be no new challenges and a couple that were almost ready to be implemented will be killed.”

Hmmm, are we in imminent danger or aren’t we?

Space Elevator Game Media Roundup

There have been many, many articles and blog entries which have been published over the past several days discussing the 2006 Space Elevator Games.  I’m going to list them all in this posting as, while the articles aren’t exactly the same, the theme of them generally are.  If I run across an article that has a decidedly different take on things, I’ll break it out into a separate post.  Otherwise, you’ll find them accumulated here.

I’ll be listing them by date they were published and will keep this posting up-to-date, at least over the next few weeks.  If you spot a duplicate article (many times a particular publication will just reprint someone else’s story – giving credit, of course), please let me know and I’ll pull it.  We have enough originals that we don’t need the duplicates 🙂

26 October, 2006

* Thrills and Spills at the X-Prize Cup – BBC (Thanks to commenter Andrew Swallow) 

* X-Prize Space Elevator Race Ends With No Winners –

* Actually, they really are rocket scientists – Toronto Star

25 October, 2006

* Explorers Web Special: The People’s race for space – XPrize Cup 2006 –

24 October, 2006

* No Winner in Space Elevator Competition –

* Space Elevator Games –

23 October, 2006

* Space Elevator Games 2006 Wrap-up by Dr. Brad Edwards – Space Elevator Reference

* Robot Climber comes oh-so-close to prize –

* Canadian space elevator teams caught up in rules dispute –

* Climbers Fail to Lasso Prize –

* Space elevator falls short of prize – Seattle Times

* Clarifications on Space Elevator Games Media – Space Elevator Reference

* Nobody is winner in the NASA X Prize games –

* No elevator winner … yet – Astroprof’s Page

* No winners in Space Elevator Games this year –

* To boldly go where no man has gone before … (Up the ribbon?) – Digital Dharma

* Amateur rocketeers reach for space –

* Take the elevator to heaven – The Standard

22 October, 2006

* Thrills and Spills abount at rocket fest –

* Space Elevator Competition Extended One Day –

* Tensions rise at space elevator challenge –

* Space Elevator Games Over for this Year – Space Elevator Reference

21 October, 2006

* NASA Space Elevator Competition in the New Mexico Desert – Daily Tech

* Space Elevator Update – Day 2 – USST has winning run – Space Elevator Reference

* Canadians vie for Space Elevator Victory –

20 October, 2006

* Handicapping the Space Elevator Games – 

* Space Elevator Games Update from Dr. Brad Edwards – Space Elevator Reference

* Space Elevator Competition Update Day 1 – Space Elevator Reference

* Space Elevator Competition Day 1 – Update 2 – Space Elevator Reference

* Space Elevator scandal – blog

* UBC Snowstar Team Makes it Six Qualified for Today’s Space Elevator Competition – Space Elevator Reference

* Space Elevator Update – blog

19 October, 2006

* Nowhere to Go But Up – Wired News

* Space Elevator Visions Going Up –

* Fifth Team Qualifies for the Space Elevator Games and In the News – Space Elevator Reference

18 October, 2006

* Space Elevator Games Qualification Update – Space Elevator Reference 

Unknown Date

* NASA’s Space Elevator Competition – The Future of Things

Space Elevator Games – no winner this year

Over at the Space Elevator Reference, they are reporting that USST did not win the climber prize this year, so I guess the problems they had on the descent were enough to disqualify them (when I have or find a more complete explanation of exactly what the problem was, I’ll either report it or point readers to it).  Nevertheless, their climb was quite impressive.

Even more impressive is that they used their second choice of power supply to power their Climber.  They had originally planned to launch via laser power, but couldn’t get their laser to work properly at the Games, so they used spot lights instead.  Even that was enough to drive them up to the top of the tether in prize-winning time.  I’m sure they’ll be putting in more effort into having a ready laser for next year.  And, as it’s envisioned that a “real” space elevator will be laser-powered, this can’t but help move the effort along.

A side note on the USST effort; as I noted on an earlier posting, they made a deal with the Spanish Team, Recens (and perhaps TurboCrawler – I’m trying to verify that) to use their spotlights to power their climb.  Recens, as readers know, were the victim of a major UPS snafu – UPS lost their climber, which they had shipped from Spain, somewhere in Kentucky. 

Recens had promised to donate their climber to a local Spanish museum when the games were over, but as the climber was lost, they were in danger of being unable to fulfill that promise.  It was announced during the Games that USST sold their climber to Recens (rumoured to be for the princely sum of 1 (one) US Dollar) and that Recens was going to take that climber back to Spain to donate to the museum.  So, all-in-all, a good deal for everyone involved.

Day 2 (Part 12)

The Tether Challenge ended just about a half-hour ago and NASA’s Prize money for the Tether Challenge is safe for another year.

Four teams entered the competition; Astroaraneae, UBC, Centaurus Aerospace and Bryan Laubscher.  Lots were drawn to determine who would face who in the two semi-final qualifying matches.  Centaurus Aerospace drew Astroaraneae and UBC drew Bryan Laubscher.

Tethers from Centaurus Aerospace and Astroaraneae were both weighed and both came in under the 2 gram limit.  They were each then mounted on the Tether Pull machine and measured for length.  While Astroaraneae met the 2 meter minimum, Centaurus Aerospace did not and was disqualified.

Tethers from UBC and Bryan Laubscher were then both weighed and they, too, both came in under the 2 gram limit.  They were each then mounted on the Tether Pull machine and measured for length.  Unfortunately, neither team met the 2 meter minimum and were both, therefore, disqualified.  So, Team Astroaraneae won the competition by default.

There was much discussion and unhappiness over the disqualifications, and that topic deserves a separate post.

in the spirit of competition, however, tethers from UBC and Bryan Laubscher were matched against each other in a “non-title” match.  Team UBC won when Bryan’s tether parted at 531 pounds.  UBC then matched it’s tether against one from Centaurus Aerospace in another friendly competition.  Centaurus won when the UBC tether parted at about 880 pounds.

Astroaraneae then faced off against the house tether.  The house tether won, but the Astroaraneae tether didn’t part until 1335.9 pounds of pressure was applied – a very impressive performance.  This beat last year’s winner by about 100 pounds.

An attempt was then made to break the house tether.  It was matched against a high-quality rope, not as competition, but just to see at what level the house tether parted at.  This number would then be a factor in next year’s competition.  Unfortunately, the house tether proved to be stronger than the machine!  The aluminum rollers holding the tethers actually began to force the block holding them outward at one end and the measurement had to be halted.  They’re going to have to come up with an alternative method to measure these.

So, congratulations go out to Michael Remington and his Team Astroaraneae!  Michael and his team promise to be back next year with an even stronger composition.

Below are some pictures of the Tether Challenge.  As always, click on the thumbnails to view a larger version of the picture.

Ben Shelef explaining the rules before competition began.






Ben hooking up the signal lights.  These lights were “on” for each tether during the pull.  When a tether broke, it’s light would go out – the other light signifying the winner.



The “Tether Torture Machine” after being beaten by the House Tether.  Note the block holding the left side of the roller – it’s being forced outward.  Not good !



Michael Remington of Team Astroaraneae.  Congratulations again !!






Day 2 (Part 11)

UBC again failed to lift off.  They went up 10-12 feet at the most and then their climber began slipping on the tether again.

This finishes the first round of competition today.  There is going to be an attempt to move the competition climber over to the fairgrounds for some more climbs.  I hope it succeeds, but that’s an awfully big crane and the roads to the fairground aren’t that rolbust.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  The tether competition is coming up later today, too.

More soon…

Day 2 (Part 10) !

Actually, TurboCrawler made the next attempt and they, too, succeeded in getting all the way to the top.  Their time was 3 minutes and 27 seconds.

So, now we have four teams that have made it all the way to the top; University of Michigan’s MClimber (who was first – 6 minutes and 40 seconds), USST (who have been the fastest so far (58 seconds), LiteWon (2 minutes and 20 seconds on their second attempt) and now TurboCrawler (3 minutes and 27 seconds).

UBC-Snowstar is next up…

Day 2 – (Part 9)

The University of Michigan made a second attempt with their MClimber.  Unfortunately, they were unable to get launched in their designated window and had to pull their climber off.

So LiteWon got a second chance and made the most of it.  They made some changes and it sure showed – their second run was done in the very impressive time of 2 minutes and 2 seconds.  And their descent, under control, was accomplished in probably (I didn’t time it) under 10 seconds.  So, congratulations are also in order for LiteWon!

Up next, USST for another attempt.

Day 2 (Part 8)

We may have a winner.  The USST Team (with assistance from Recens and TurboCrawler – borrowing their lights for additional power) made it to the top in 58 seconds !!  So, they’ve met that portion of the test requirements.  There’s also a requirement that they come down in a controlled descent within 2 minutes and there is some issue about whether they made that or not.  We’ll have to see.  But no matter what, their climb was VERY impressive – especially the first half – they really zipped up the tether.  After that, the inverse-square law began to be felt and they slowed down somewhat.  But still they made it in 58 seconds.

There are all sorts of rumors flying around about what kind of deal USST cut with Recens and/or TurboCrawler to borrow their lights.  We’ll let the future sort that out.  In the meantime, congratulations USST!!!

Day 2 (Part 7) !

Events are happening very quickly now, quicker than I can do a post for each attempt.

LiteWon made it to the top of the Ribbon in 5 minutes and 31 seconds, a full 1 minute and 9 seconds quicker than the University of Michigan’s MClimber did.  So, we have our second successful climb (though again, not in the time period allotted to win the prize).  Pretty impressive for a High School team…

The Kansas City Space Pirates also made an attempt, but failed/stopped about 1/2-2/3 of the way up.  Brian Turner, captain of the Space Pirates, said that he was a “victim of the winds”.  The wind would blow the climber out of alignment with the solar array, triggering a stop.  Then the wind would bring it back inline and the climbing would start.  But this began to happen so quickly at the end that the climber was essentially stuck in position.  So, back down for the Space Pirates.

USST is up next.  I’ll be posting more pictures when I have a few extra minutes.

Day 2 (Part 6) !

No joy for the German team either.  They got onto the tether in good order and, when light was applied, seemed to move up a few feet pretty quickly.  But then they had controller problems and had to remove their climber from the tether.  Hopefully they’ll try it again later on.

Pictures of the attempt below.  As always, click on the thumbnails for a larger version.

Making adjustments on the tether.




Turbo Crawler, illuminated with the 18,000 watt spotlight.




Lights for TurboCrawler.  The big one is 18,000 watts and the smaller is 12,000 watts.




LiteWon up next.

Day 2 (Part 5) !

UBC-Snowstar failed in it’s attempt to climb the tether.  They got on the tether in good order.  When they first loosed the brake and attempted to climb, you could see the wheels on the climber turn, but it didn’t move.  They clamped it back to the ribbon and made an adjustment to tighten the grip.  When they tried it again, it did go up a few feet, but you could hear the wheels/gears slipping.  So, they’re done, at least for now.

Below are some pictures from the UBC-Snowstar attempt.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger version.

Getting on the tether.




Steve Jones tightening the grip.




Snowstar illuminated with the spotlights.





TurboCrawler is up next.

Day 2 (Part 4) !

The competition tether is now up and the initial order of teams has been set.  First up will be the UBC-Snowstar team.  Second will be the German TurboCrawler team.  Third will be the High School LiteWon team.  Fourth will be the Kansas City Space Pirates.  Fifth will be the USST team.  The University of Michigan MClimber, the team that made the only climb yesterday, is set as an alternate.  If one of the scheduled teams is not ready to go, MClimber will get their slot.

The winds are still light, but the tether is already twisting in the wind.  It’s not whipping around like it was yesterday, though, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

An update to the Microwave team test.  They are going to have to demonstrate that they can successfully climb the 30 foot Qualification tether before the effort is going to be made to move the 200 foot Competition tether to the fairgrounds.

Day 2 (Part 3) !

Well, bad (and good, I think) news.  We’ve received word that the airport will not allow any Microwave-powered competitors to run.  This means that “Punktaurus” is not going to be allowed to compete at the airport.  That’s the bad news.  But “Plan B” has been put into effect; after today’s competition is completed, the competition tether is supposed to be moved to the Fairgrounds (where the teams are “camped”) and the Microwave team will be allowed to run there.  So that’s the good news.

An obvious question is why did this restriction show up now?  My response is “I don’t know”.  That’s going to be part of the post-mortem, I’m sure.  Right now, it’s just important that the microwave people be given every chance to make an attempt and it looks like that’s going to happen…

Day 2 (Part 2) !

Dawn is breaking here – dawn in the desert is truly beautiful.  I spent 8 years living and working in Saudi Arabia and one of my favorite things there was to go camping in the desert and wake up to to the sunrises.  But it’s still bloody cold.

New development; As I wrote last night, Centaurus Aerospace showed up at the last minute and were hoping to compete.  However, their microwave source is not working so they’ve teamed up with Punkworks, the other microwave team.  Kevin Estrabillo from Punkworks tells me that the new combined team, known as “Punktaurus” will split the prize money 50-50 with Centaurus Aerospace if they win.

Several teams are here already and there is some jockeying going on as to who will go first, how much time they’ll be allowed on the tether, etc.

Bryan Laubscher (back to the camera), Ben Shelef (in the truck) and Dr. Bradley Edwards getting things ready for this morning’s competition.




Day 1 – (Part 8) !

One new development; Centaurus Aerospace has arrived – better late than never.  They have both a Climber entry (microwave powered) and a tether entry.

The qualifying tether (30′) is currently located at the fairgrounds – a place where the teams have set up shop.  The plan for tomorrow is to move the qualifying tether to the competition site – fairly near to where the competition will be held.  This will give the four teams that have not yet qualified (Punkworks, SpaceMiners, Starclimber and Centaurus Aerospace) one last chance to do so.  If any do qualify, they’ll be scheduled onto the 200 foot tether – time permitting of course.

Time will be especially tight on the competition tether and I won’t be at all surprised if the time limits placed on each try become pretty draconian tomorrow – many teams want a chance at the tether and so the time allotted for each team will be short.  Competition will be starting as early as possible in order to minimize the wind effects (which kick up later in the day).

Speaking of tethers, the tether strength competition will be held tomorrow in the afternoon.

More tomorrow…

25OCT2006 – I’ve been informed by the SpaceMiners team that I had been misstating their team name, calling it Space Miners instead of the proper SpaceMiners (one word, not two).  It is now fixed in this and previous posts – my apologies to Vince and his team.

Day 1 – (Part 7) !

Competition, such as it was, has ended for the day.  The only team to actually make an attempt was the University of Michigan’s MClimber which, as I had written in an earlier post, made it all the way to the top.  The wind was just too strong for TurboCrawler and the KC Space Pirates to make their attempts.

I know many of the teams are back at the fairground “camp” doing more work on their equipment in an attempt to get ready for tomorrow, so I’m off to visit them and will post on what I find in a few hours.

I do want to mention, however, that The Space Elevator Reference also has been blogging on this event and has some pictures that I don’t have.  You can check out that site here.

Day 1 – (Part 6) !

The next team to make an attempt was the German Turbo Crawler.  This is the biggest climber in the competition, a full 26 kilos (1 kilo over the allowance – some negotiation and winning formula recalculation was necessary to allow them qualify).  But they, too, fell victim to the winds here.  Below are some photos showing what happened – as always, click on the thumbnails to view a larger version of the picture.

The tether twisting, twisting, twisting.  It got so bad at times that the tether actually wrapped around the line next to it.





German team struggling to get their Climber in a position to launch.




Another view…




Professor Dr. Detlef H. Meche explaining to one of the news crew that today’s test had to be cancelled due to high winds.  He made the point that their particular climber needs to have a stable tether for the first 5 meters – after that they can deal with the wind.




One other point of note; TurboCrawler uses 30,000 watts of light to drive their Climber.  They brought an 18,000 watt spotlight from Germany with them and rented a 12,000 watt spotlight here (from Hollywood, no less).

Day 1 (Part 5) – Partial success !

MClimber became the first team to attempt a run today, and they succeeded in making it all the way to the top of the 200 foot-tall tether.  It took them 6 minutes and 40 seconds to complete the run, and the rules state that you have to do it in one minute or less.  So, the success is partial – they got to the top, but not in the required time (and thus are not eligible for the prize with this run).  But it’s incredible that they made it all.  The tether was twisting tremendously and the solar array was continuously in and out of the best optical position.  They are now going over their “lessons learned” and I expect them to make another attempt tomorrow.

Congratulations to the University of Michigan’s team; Julie Bellerose, Andrew Lyjak, Joel Schweitzer and Kwan Chong Tan – the first team, ever, to make it to the top of a 200 foot tether ! (As always, click on the thumbnails for a larger version of the picture).

MClimber on the tether – last minute adjustments being made.




On the way up…




You can see the Climber oscillating on the ribbon, round and round and up and down (on each side).



The successful team; from left-to-right, Joel Schweitzer, Julie Bellerose, Kwan Chong Tan and Andrew Lyjak.




Next up (we hope) are the Kansas City Space Pirates…

(Note: My thanks to Dustin Sensiba, from Cruces.US News for the first three pictures – due to a technical glitch, I wasn’t able to take any of this run.  Thanks, Dustin).

Day 1 (Part 4) !

Well, more stories from yesterday.

Matt Abrams from the Starclimber team suffered some mechanical problems yesterday while attempting a qualification run.  While talking to him yesterday, he told me that there were some problems with the ribbon gripping mechanism and the gears driving it.  I haven’t talked to him today yet, but yesterday he still held out some hope of being able to get it fixed and then trying to qualify again.  Good luck Matt!

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version of the picture.

Matt Abrams working on his climber.




The Starclimber photocell array.





Day 1 (Part 3)

Status update; The teams are running into some wind issues.  It’s breezy (sometimes more than breezy) out here on the tarmac (the Space Elevator Games are being held in conjunction with XPrize Cup and the venue is the Las Cruces International Airport).  Those teams that went for ultra lightweight have built, in essence, some very big, expensive kites.  There’s an additional wire that the teams can tether to, but of course it takes equipment to do so.  This has slowed down Snowstar and they are temporarily grounded.  USST was up next, but there were some lighting issues to deal with.  Now the University of Michigan’s MClimber is scheduled to be first to actually make an attempt to climb the competition tether.  I’ll keep you posted…

Day 1 (Part 2) !

While I’m waiting for the first climb, let me share some of the photos and stories I gathered yesterday. Click on the thumbnails for a larger version.

From left-to-right, Ben Bakhshi (all-around Elevator2010 intern), Michael Fischer (team leader) and Adam Fischer (Michael’s son).  They are working on Beamer1, the Climber.



The damaged lens – what a shame!




The Climber itself.  I LOVE the Coffee can!  As Michael says, “Whatever works”…




Day 1 (Part 1) !

Well, today is the day.  Things are behind, but moving along.  UBC-Snowstar is now on the tether and should be attempting it’s first climb shortly.  I understand this is being simultaneously webcast, so you should be able to go to and see it live, if you want, you can view it there, too…

One of the things I learned while getting my press credentials from the XPrize people (who have been fantastic, by the way) was that the original crane which was to be used for the tether competition weighed 30 tons!  This was too heavy and would have damaged the tarmac, so they had to find an alternative crane.  It’s always something, isn’t it? 🙂

1 Day and Counting (Part 4) !

As of right now, there are still only six teams that have qualified to compete in the 2006 Space Elevator Games Climber Competition.  They are the Kansas City Space Pirates, TurboCrawler, LiteWon, UBC-Snowstar, MClimber (from University of Michigan) and USST.  That’s a pretty broad mix.  The KC Space Pirates are a family affair, TurboCrawler is from a German University, LiteWon is from an American High School, UBC-Snowstar and USST are from Canadian Universities and Climber 1 is from an American University.  No company sponsored qualifiers, though.

As for the other six entrants, here is their status;

Recens – From Spain.  I have my information second-hand, but from what I understand, their Climber was lost (not delivered to the wrong address, but LOST) by UPS, somewhere in Kentucky.  Even if it shows up tomorrow, there is almost no chance they can compete.  If the information about their missing equipment is true, they were well and truly screwed – what a shame.

SpaceMiners – They burned out 4 cells on their photocell array on a qualification attempt and are still hopeful of qualifying tomorrow.

StarClimber – They suffered a mechanical problem while on the ribbon, trying to qualify.  While Matt is working on fixing it, he’s not hopeful.  It doesn’t look good for them, but they’re not totally dead yet.

Punkworks – They still think they have a shot at it.  They were doing some ribbon testing tonight and hope to qualify tommorrow.

Beamer (the Fischer team) – Another tragedy.  When their Climber was being weighed in, it somehow got disconnected from the scale and crashed to the ground.  The lens fractured and may not be usable.

Centaurus Aerospace – As far as I know, no one’s heard from them – I guess they’re no shows.

So that’s where we are.  At least six teams will be competing and there’s a chance that up to 3 more may make it (though I’d give odds on only 1 or 2 of them).

Below are some more pictures from today.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger version.

Dr. Bradley Edwards arrives.  Here he is with Spaceward CEO Ben Shelef – both getting their hands dirty.




Ben Shelef directing an all-hands meeting tonight, going over the logistics for competing tomorrow.  Evidently, there has been some sort of snafu in getting credentials issued and it promises to be a merry mess getting in, in the morning !


Meet Marty – Marty is our version of the “Cable Guy” – he’s the one who, today anyway, runs the crane handling the qualifying tether.  Here he is, sitting in the crane’s cab.



1 Day and Counting (Part 3) – 6 Teams now Qualified !

Six teams are now qualified for the Climber Competition.  They are the Kansas City Space Pirates, TurboCrawler, LiteWon, Snowstar, MClimber and USST.  More may make it tonight.

Below are some more pictures of today’s qualifying efforts.  As always, click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.

The crane holding the Test tether.






SpaceMiners voltaic cell array (including 4 cells that burned out during the initial qualification try and are now in the process of being replaced).



Two members of the SpaceMiners team with their Climber’s voltaic cell array.  On the left is Mark Rice and on the right is Paul Polanovich.





1 Day and Counting (Part 2) !

Punkworks has yet to attempt a qualification run, but they are nearly ready to try one tonight.  Below are a couple of thumbnails of Punkworks Team Members.  Click on the thumbnails to view a larger version of the picture.

Kevin Estrabillo showing that famous exuberant enthusiasm that Canadians are famous for 🙂



Allen Atamer, Aman Dhanoa and another Punkworks team-member (I’ll get the name and then update this) discussing strategy.



1 Day and Counting (Part 1) !

Here are some pictures from today taken at the Las Cruces International Airport, where the actual competition is going to be held.  There is a lot of last minute being done, but it is coming together.  With all of the picture thumbnails, click on them to get a larger version.

The crane which will be used to hoist the 50 meter (165 feet) tether which will be the “race track” for the Climber competition.



Another view of the Competition Crane.




T-shirt worn by one of the Crane crew members.




Billboard / Welcoming sign for the Space Elevator Games.




2 Days and Counting (Part 5) !

Final post for today from the competition.  As always, click on the picture thumbnails to see a larger version.  For the audio clip, double-click on the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear a short narration of what the picture is about.

Ben Shelef congratulating the University of Michigan team for qualifying.




Climber Weigh-in trellis (narration by Ken Davidian).

[audio: ClimberWeighInTrellis.mp3]



More tomorrow !

2 Days and Counting (Part 4) !

We’re still holding at only 4 teams qualifying for the competition so far.  More attempts are being made tonight.  In the meantime, here are a few more pictures from the Qualification runs.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger version of the picture.

University of Michigan’s MClimber on the Tether.




TurboCrawler (German Team) getting ready.





TurboCrawler on the Tether.





2 Days and Counting (Part 3) – Four teams now qualified !


Four teams have now qualified to run in Friday’s and Saturday’s Space Elevator Games Competition.  They are the Kansas City Space Pirates, TurboCrawler (the German Team), MClimber (from the University of Michigan) and LiteWon (from Westmont High School in Pasadena, California).  More are sure to make it today and tomorrow.

Below are a couple of pictures from the LiteWon entry.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger version.

LiteWon entry adding Solar Panels.





LiteWon on the ribbon.





Update: October 19th – Joe Carolan corrects me by commenting that Lite Won is from Campbell, not Pasadena, California.  My apologies for the error and thank you for the correction, Joe.

3 Days and Counting (Part 3) – First Qualification attempt !

The Kansas City Space Pirates were the first team to attempt to qualify their Climber for the 2006 Space Elevator Games.  Unfortunately, while their climber did make it to the top and within the allotted time, it failed to descend properly and had to be hauled down.  Nevertheless, the fact that they made it to the top is quite encouraging.  I talked to their team captain, Brian Turner, and he told me that they knew what the problem was, were in the process of fixing it, would be ready to make another attempt in the morning, and still hoped to be first to qualify.  Below is a thumbnail version of a picture of their climber sitting at the top of the test tether.  Click on it to get a larger version and double-click on the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear my brief interview with him as he discusses their results.

Sitting at the top of the tether…





Below are pictures taken during preparations for their attempt.  Again, click on the picture for a larger version of it and double-click on the arrow icon next to the speaker to hear a brief narration of what is going on.

Part of the KC Space Pirates reflector array (narration by Ken Davidian).




Preparation for Qualifying Run (narration by Ken Davidian).




Getting ready (narration by Ken Davidian).





3 Days and Counting (Part 2) !

More pics and info from “Camp Las Cruces”.  Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.  Double-click on the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear a short audio clip describing what’s going on.

Work going on at Climber Row (narration by Ken Davidian).




TurboCrawler Solar Array.





3 Days and Counting (Part 1) !

More pics and info from “Camp Las Cruces”.  Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.  Double-click on the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear a short audio clip describing what’s going on.

From last night, Team TurboCrawler huddled around their BBQ…




USST Laser Tunnel (narrated by Barry Chan).




Punkworks Prototype microwave source (narrated by Kevin Estrabillo).




4 Days and Counting (Part 4) !

More pictures and clips from “Camp Las Cruces”.  For each picture, click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of it.  Double-click on the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear a short audio clip describing what’s going on.

The Lonely Tether Machine (Ken Davidian narrating).




Punkworks 3 meter dish (Kevin Estrabillo narrating). 




TurboCrawler under construction (Lutz Klueber narrating).




All for today – more tomorrow!

4 Days and Counting (Part 3) !

There are now six teams onsite; LiteWon (the High School team), TurboCrawler (the German Team), Kansas City Space Pirates, Starclimber, and two of the Canadian teams, Snowstar and Punkworks.

Tonight an all-hands meeting was held to talk about various things, most importantly when the qualifiying runs would start.  The teams wanted to start qualifying on Wednesday, so that means Wednesday and Thursday are going to be pretty full.  Perhaps some can be ready by tomorrow and lighten the last-minute load a bit.

Here’s a picture of Ben Shelef running the all-hands meeting.  Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.




Here’s a picture of some of the team members attending the all-hands meeting.  Again, click on the thumbnail for a larger version.



And here’s a picture of Allen Atamer and the Punkworks team Rectenna.  Click on the thumbnail for a larger version and double-click on the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear Allen explain what is in the picture.



4 Days and Counting (Part 2) !

I had a short conversation yesterday with Vince Lopresti of the Dallas SpaceMiners Team.  By the time you’re reading this, he should be in Las Cruces with two complete Climbers and parts for third.  Listen to what Vince has to say about the competition and his chances by double-clicking the arrow to the right of the speaker, below.


And, on a happy note, Team TurboCrawler (the German Team) had their equipment clear customs and arrive today, onsite.  So, we should have the benefit of their best efforts.

4 Days and Counting (Part 1) !

Two more pictures from today’s activities at the Fairgrounds.  Click on the picture thumbnail to see a larger version.  Double-click the arrow next to the speaker icon to hear a short audio clip describing what’s going on.

Ben Bakhshi with climber lighting equipment (audio clip narrated by Ben Bakhshi).




Ben operating Forklift carrying Qualifier rig (audio clip narrated by Ken Davidian).




5 Days and Counting !

Ben Shelef reports that “things are good” – the rain has stopped.  Two other teams have now arrived onsite; Starclimber and the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (USST).

Below are some pictures from today’s activities. Click on the picture thumbnail to see a larger version.  Double-click the arrow next to the Speaker icon to hear a short audio clip describing what’s going on.

Ben Shelef and Dave Carty working on the Ribbon Anchor (audio clip narrated by Ken Davidian).




Brian Turner from the Kansas City Space Pirates working on his climber (audio narrated by his Dad, Dave Turner).




Ben and Dave working on the Ribbon Counterweight (audio clip narrated by Ken Davidian).




Matt Abrams of Team Starclimber (audio clip narrated by Matt Abrams).




X Prize Cup touches down this weekend

This is an article in the local newspaper, the Las Cruces Sun-News, describing the upcoming X Prize Cup.  It’s an overview of all that is going to happen during the Event and does briefly mention the Space Elevator Games.  The reporter misspeaks when he describes a “light-powered tether” and a “cable or a light beam to stretch from the surface of the earth…”, but it’s good to see the mention in the local press nonetheless.