Monthly Archives: November 2006

Russia will develop space elevators

This Novisti (Russian News & Information Agency) article describes a rather unique take on a Space Elevator.

An excerpt: “Scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a unique space elevator for lunar and Martian missions. Although a bit slower, the new system will cut back on interplanetary delivery expenses.  A space elevator consists of satellites, spacecraft and payloads linked by long, thin, flexible elements. The simplest system links two spacecraft by means of a cable with a length of several dozen or even several hundred kilometers. This tandem, which resembles a space sling, revolves around its center of gravity, which in turn has a predetermined orbit. Either of the two spacecraft can therefore launch a payload along any required trajectory without any rocket engines.”

Elevators, Chimps and Love?

I found this podcast (posted just a few days ago) from The Mr. Science Show.  The author, Marc West, discusses the concept of the Space Elevator.  He’s a bit behind (HighLift systems is now LiftPort, Brad Edwards doesn’t work there anymore, there have been multiple Space Elevator conferences, etc.) but the Aussie accent almost makes up for it…

One of the biggest attractions of a Space Elevator is, of course, its potential to open up space to people who are not either astronauts or rich tourists.

Over at, Mike Halls-Moore is trying a different approach to get to space; he’s selling “stellar objects” on his website to raise money for a future flight on a commercial space vehicle (Virgin Galactic, etc.).

Good luck, Mike.  Perhaps you will be able to use your funds for a Lift ticket 🙂

Scraping the sky

Over at E’S FLAT, AH’S FLAT TOO, Rahul relates how Professor Mark Welland, FRS, considers the idea of Space Elevator to be nonsense; “any undergraduate physics student could tell you why it was nonsense and this sort of irresponsible hype in the press had done great damage to nanoscience.”

I googled Dr. Welland, and he certainly does seem to have a lot of credentials.  I am going to attempt to contact Dr. Welland and ask him why the idea of a Space Elevator is “nonsense.”

Robots rule at FIRST LEGO League

I’ve blogged about these LEGO competitions before (here, here and here) and here is yet another story, this one from the London Times-Mirror, about these ongoing games and how they include the concept of a Space Elevator.

This is so cool, introducing young children to such concepts.  You see things such as this, and also how Space Elevators are becoming more and more a part of computer Games, as well as the creation of LiftPort and the Space Elevator Games (and the publicity that surrounds them), and it’s apparent that the idea of a Space Elevator continues to percolate through various layers of society.  This will pay off, I think, in public support for building a Space Elevator when the day comes that carbon nanotubes of sufficient length and strength are finally created.

Solar Power Satellites to Reforge Political Landscape?

On the LiftPort Blog, Tom Nugent has posted some thoughts as to which nations, more than others, might see Solar Power Satellites (SPS) as being very valuable from a national security perspective.

I completely agree.  I think that deploying SPS is the “killer app” for a Space Elevator.  I also think it’s a reason why being first in deploying a Space Elevator might not be the huge advantage its often touted to be.  For example, I could see a country, like Japan, deploying their own Space Elevator(s), even if others already exist, just from a Security standpoint.

The Space Elevator Journal debuts…

A new site for Space Elevator fans and junkies has turned up, Patrick Boake’s Space Elevator Journal.

Patrick contributed Return on Investment to the “LiftPort: Opening Space to Everyone” book.  His brief bio in that book states, in part; “Patrick Boake is a freelance techno-journalist in Toronto, Canada.”

Patrick has also set up a Google-based Space Elevator Search Engine.

Welcome, Patrick.  I hope you’ll be able to provide us with, among other things, on-the-spot updates from the Canadian teams as they get ready to compete for the 2007 Space Elevator Games.

Interview with Ben Shelef

Recently, I had an (email) conversation with Ben Shelef, co-founder of Spaceward and CEO of Elevator2010.  We discussed the recently completed Space Elevator Games and the ones scheduled for next year.

Q. In your opinion, what was the most significant accomplishment of the 2006 Games?

The most significant accomplishment was the scale of what happened – this was the first “real”, or full-form competition, and we had 12 teams arriving with real hardware, 2 from Europe, 3 from Canada, 7 from the US – we’ve got ourselves a Space Elevator competition now!  A few more teams were registered and couldn’t produce hardware in time – all in all we had 20 teams that tried.  This is a good base to building the 2007 games from.  Obviously this year USST was head and shoulders above everyone else, with their 2-seconds-too-slow climb, but I’m betting in 2007 we will see plenty of climbers zooming up at over 2 m/s.

Q. The biggest mistake made by entrants in the 2006 Tether competition, was, in hindsight, fairly obvious; trying to push the 2 meter minimum length requirement too far.  What, in your opinion, was the biggest mistake made by entrants in the 2006 Climber competition?

That would be maturity.  Several of the climbers had it in them to go 1m/s, but they were just not fully prepared, were debugging the system on the pad – one of our strongest pushes this year is to whip the teams into starting early, and keeping a constant pace.  We will require video evidence of a complete working system 1 month before the competition so they can spend the next remaining time fine-tuning and putting a nice paint job on the climber. This is a concept we came up with this year, but were too late to enforce properly.  This year, it will be very high on our radar screen.

Q. What was your biggest regret about the 2006 Games?

None really.  All you have to do is step outside of the day-to-day activities and look back – we’ve covered a huge amount of ground, and have a path forward that is both exciting and feasible – We couldn’t have asked for more.

Q. What are your thoughts on how well the “Games partnership” worked with XPrizeCup this year?

It was a good call for both of us to do this together.  We complement each other, and it worked out fine for both of us.

Q. I know it’s early, but do you have any preferences on working with XPrizeCup for the 2007 games?

We’re already talking about this, but won’t know for sure for a couple of months.

Q. What are the most significant changes in this year’s Climber (Power Beaming) competition rules?

Other than the increased difficulty, it’s mostly about instilling process in both the teams (see the list of deliverables) and pad operations. We need to increase the level of technical maturity of the climbers, since it is clear now that plenty of people have ideas about how to build the power beaming part, but are failing at the nuts-and-bolts level.  We also have to build a more complicated anchor point to deal with the effects of wind on the climbers.  In space, there is no wind, so we have to provide a more protective environment for the climbers.

Q. What are the most significant changes in this year’s Tether competition rules?

Very little, actually.  We have a slightly more clever way of rating a tether’s performance (best of its losing point and all of its winning points) and so now can have 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

Q. How did the idea for a Climber “newbie” event come about?

We actually had “limited” registration this year.  Experience obviously counts, and the 2006 format seems feasible as a first shot (e.g. TurboCrawler, MClimber, and of course – Kansas City).

Q. With the Prize money now up to $500,000 for a single winner, do you expect to see more significant corporate sponsorship in the 2007 Games?

We’d better….   we’re working on it.

Q. Do you think we have a realistic chance of seeing any entrants in the 2007 Tether competition that employ carbon nanotubes in their tethers?

Yes, and you can quote me on that.

Thank you Ben.

One other note; Elevator2010 is publishing the comments submitted to them on the 2007 Rulebooks and their response.  You can find that here.

Video of USST’s First-place climb in the 2006 Space Elevator Games

The video from this year’s first place climb by USST is now on YouTube.
Thanks to Clayton Ruszkowski from the USST team for the tip – and, once again, congratulations to Clayton and the rest of the USST team for their very impressive performance this year.  Team USST finished first in both the 2005 and 2006 Space Elevator games and have to be considered the early, heavy favorites for the 2007 Games.

A half-million dollars (US Dollars no less) would buy an awful lot of Canadian Beer…

Rulebooks for next year’s Space Elevator Games now available!

The initial Rulebooks for next year’s Climber (Power Beaming) and Tether competitions have been posted by Elevator2010.  To quote Ben Shelef, Elevator2010 CEO; “We’re taking public comments on the rulebooks, [and] will post 1.0 rulebooks by the end of the month.”

The Climber (Power Beaming) rulebook can be found here and the Tether rulebook can be found here.  Of course, both are available on the Elevator2010 website.

One new item noted on the Elevator2010 website is a Climber competition for newbies; “If you are a new team, and only want to try your hand at it, we have the “limited” games, in which no money is on the line (as of yet…), the metric is 1 m/s, and the height is comparable to this year’s games. We will publish a separate rulebook for the limited competition shortly.”

So, for all you future competitors, now’s the time to get started!!  Holidays?  Who cares about the holidays?

Space Elevators and Legos

I’ve posted about this before, the First Lego League (FLL) has a “Nano Quest Challenge“, including the design (with Legos, of course) of a Space Elevator.  This is uber-cool.

The NXT-STEP is keeping us updated on events in this competition.

The UBC SnowStar team, the same that was in this year’s Space Elevator Games, visited the Robotics Club to give them the benefit of their experience and expertise.  We also learn that UBC’s Steve Jones still plays with Legos (a mark of distinction) and went to Austria earlier this year to participate in a paper airplane contest…

Disneyland’s Space Elevator

Of COURSE this is a good idea.  As someone who has ridden Space Mountain perhaps a bit too often (“Mommy, why doesn’t Daddy want to go on any other rides?”), Disney and a Space Elevator go together like Fish and Chips and Ham and Eggs (apologies to all of the Vegans out there…).

But I don’t see it happening by “January of 2007″…

More Space-Elevator themed videos on YouTube

Three new videos of possible interest to Space Elevator enthusiasts have been posted on YouTube.

The USST qualifying run at this year’s Space Elevator Games.  It’s a longer version than the one I had posted earlier.

A promo for LiftPort – pretty cool in my opinion.  For some reason it makes me think of Fantasia.

A trailer for a new movie, PX.  It’s a bit cheesy, IMHO…

Comments and Spam – Round 2

Well, the Math plugin turned out to be useless – I received as much Spam after I plugged it in as I did beforehand (though I don’t understand why).  I’ve turned on the Akismet Plugin and, so far anyway, it seems to be working.  But I don’t know if I like it because I still have to sift through the Spam it blocked to see if there are any comments that should have been posted.  I’ll hope that people post a bunch of comments in the next week or so (hint hint) and see if they all get through.  if some of them get erroneously blocked (and I have to manually release them), then maybe I’ll look for yet another plugin.


Comments and Spam

I’ve just added a Spam filter to my Comments. I now receive several hundred Spam comments each day and am getting tired of having to sift through them all to find the occasional, “real” Comment.  The filter I’m now trying is entitled “Did You Pass Math?”, asking the user for the answer to a simple math question.  The location of the answer box is a bit clumsy, but doable.

I’ll see how this works.  If someone has a problem with it or can suggest a better WordPress plugin, please email me at Ted AT  Thanks…

Space Elevators & radiation

NewScientistSpace has recently published two articles referencing another article in Acta Astronautica on the dangers that Radiation will pose to travellers using the Space Elevator.  The first article requires you to subscribe while the second article does not.  I have a subscription and so was able to read the entire first article.  The second is better and more complete, so don’t waste your money on a subscription just to read the first article.

The original article in Acta Astronautica is by Blaise Gassend and Anders Jorgensen.

Onward (and upward)

Earlier I had posted a link to an article predicting a functioning Space Elevator by 2099.  Here’s an article that predicts the first attempt to launch a Space Elevator (in 2025) will fail, but that “By 2050 we will have fully functioning space elevators operating at full capacity, moving both people and supplies into space.”

Better than 2099, but still not good enough.  2015 is the number I’m looking for…

Who knew?

Who knew that 1) Michael Laine, President & Founder of Liftport, is a descendant of Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) and 2) LiftPort had an entry in the recently completed Space Elevator Games?  I’ll accept the ancestor item, but, unless it was a super-secret stealth entry, they did not have an entry in the games.

Both bits of info (along with note that Michael will be speaking tomorrow at the Bainbridge Performing Arts Playhouse) can be found in this article.

Click on the thumbnails for (slightly) larger versions…

New YouTube Space Elevator videos

Several new Space-Elevator themed videos have been posted over at YouTube.  Most, though not all, are from or related to the just-completed Space Elevator games.

This must be an older video, and it uses some of the ISR Space-Elevator video footage, but some of it was new for me;

This video was taken of the Climber Work area, either before or during the competition.

This is a video of the USST team during a qualification attempt.  You have to turn your head sideways to view it.  If someone knows how to change its orientation, please let me know…

This is a video of part of the University of Michigan’s MClimber historic rise to the top of the tether, including a very bad pun at the end.

This is a video of one of the SpaceMiners climber, one we didn’t see in this years competition.  This video is of the steering mechanism for a SpaceMiners climber.

Another conceptual video of how a Space Elevator might look.

A 5+ minute German documentary on the Space Elevator and TurboCrawler.


Finally, here’s a video trailer from the XPrizeCup.


Space Elevator coin up for auction

Over at the Mondolithic Sketchbook, they note they are now auctioning off Space Elevator-themed coins at eBay.

As noted on the description, the coins are pure (.999) silver and are being auctioned off with a starting bid of $75.00.

Click on the thumbnail at left to view a larger version.


Some may not know that the picture depicted is based on some work they’ve done earlier.  Click on the thumbnail at left to view a larger version.



I’m sure these coins are not “legal tender”, but both LiftPort and Elevator2010 could advertise that they would accept these in payment, LiftPort for Lift Tickets and Spaceward for a T-shirt or something 🙂