Monthly Archives: January 2007

Space Elevator Games – Late Payment information

I just received this from Ben Shelef regarding payment information for competing in this year’s Space Elevator Games;

Hello Folks

As the Early Bird registration deadline period nears, some of you have run into last minute delays cutting checks at institutions, processing corporate credit cards, etc.

If you have a per-transaction limit on your CC, you’ll see two new buttons on the web site – $2000 and $500. You can use one of each, or 5×500, and you should be ok.

We will send receipts on checks after tomorrow.

You know your payment has been processed when the “[preliminary]” or “[pending]” label is removed from your team name on the team list.

Under special circumstances, we will allow late payment, as long as:

– The signed team agreement has been faxed in (650-887-2332) by midnight PST today.
– You have asked for and we have given you explicit permission to pay late.

In such a case, we will charge a $100 late fee.

Payments received through Google by 2/1, or received by mail with a postmark of 2/1 or earlier will not incur the fee.


Ben Shelef
The Spaceward Foundation
ben [AT]

Discovery Channel 2057 show airs

Well, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this show, but I thought it would be something along the lines of the Science Channel show – a “Space Elevator primer” as it were.

Having said that, I’m glad this was different; there was enough there about the Space Elevator to introduce the concept to the uninitiated, but not so much as to “bore the choir…”

The idea of a lab located on the Space Elevator, 250 miles above the earth, is certainly doable (once you have a Space Elevator, of course) and, one can see that it would be a great place to actually test out Solar arrays (IMHO, the “killer ap”, near-term, for a Space Elevator).  And, a joint lab between the Americans and the Chinese is not out of the question.

(sarcasm on) Nice to see the stereotypes though; the “crafty and capitalistic Americans” suggest buying the silence of the Chinese scientist while the leaders of the evil “red menace” (or “yellow peril” – pick your poison) kidnap the Chinese scientist’s wife to ensure his cooperation.  But in the end, the American side comes up with the winning plan and the scientific spirit of cooperation between the American and Chinese scientist in the lab triumphed over all – I was almost in tears… (sarcasm off)

Seriously, I thought the show was fun, but they missed an important point.  They talked about how a Space Elevator-based solar lab would be able to develop / test new solar power technology, but said not a word about how, once the solar arrays were built, they would be placed in orbit.  You need a Space Elevator to do that, rockets would just not be practical.

On the optimistic side, the show did posit that a Space Elevator would be in place by 2057.  I’m hoping for a lot sooner than that.   The most interesting comment in the entire show (IMHO) was the spoken assumption that the United States and China would be the two preeminent powers in 2057.  I wouldn’t count out either the Russians or the Indians.  Russia is a country tremendously rich in natural resources and has a long history of technological prowess.  If they can ever get their act together, they will be a formidable competitor.  I’d also be leery of betting against India – there’s something about this country that inspires respect.  They’re not as rich in natural resources as Russia is, but will soon be the world’s most populous nation.  If you believe (like I do) that educated people are an asset, then you have to say that their future is bright.

This show will re-air on Saturday, February 3rd at 04:00pm eastern/pacific (note that the time may be am – I think they made a mistake on their website).  In any event, please, as they say, check your local listings.

The 2nd Biennial Space Elevator Workshop

Over at the Space Elevator Reference, Dr. Bryan Laubscher gives a summary of places/locations for previous Space Elevator-themed conferences and workshops.  He calls for the Space Elevator community to attend this years 2nd Biennial Space Elevator Workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico (being held from March 25th through the 28th), just 8 short weeks from tomorrow, and tells us why it is so important for us to be there.

His post is a must-read.

Latest news from the Spaceward Foundation

I just received this from Spaceward’s Ben Shelef:

Hello Folks

Most of you probably caught the NOVA segment on the Space Elevator – it was broadcast a while back, but is available online at  It is a real nice segment (12 minutes).

On the same topic, Discovery channel will broadcast tomorrow (1/28, 8pm) a 3-hour special presentation about futuristic concepts. The Space Elevator is featured in the 3rd segment:

As for next year’s competition, the first team registration deadline is approaching, and the list of teams is growing fast:

Finally, To those of you asking about dates and location – we’re still working on it, maybe we’ll have some news on the next update.


 The Spaceward Crew.

Reminder – Space Elevator show to air on Discovery Channel on Sunday

As posted earlier, the new Discovery Channel series, 2057, will debut this Sunday, January 28th.  In it’s The World show, scheduled to air at 10:00pm eastern/pacific, there will be a segment devoted to the development of a Space Elevator.

The website is here.  I’d previously posted about this show here (this post also contains a link to a trailer for the show) and here.

This show will re-air on Sunday, January 29th at 02:00am eastern/pacific and Saturday, February 3rd at 04:00pm eastern/pacific (note that the February 3rd time may be am – I think they made a mistake on their website).  In any event, please, as they say, check your local listings.

Dr. Brad Edwards said that they did a nice job on this show, so I’m sure it will be worth watching.

USST shows off their Climber at Spectrum 2007

Over this past weekend, Clayton Ruszkowski and the USST team demonstrated their climber at Spectrum 2007; “Robots, handmade cars and an elevator to space are all part of Spectrum 2007 being put on by the University of Saskatchewan’s college of engineering.  The four-day show gives both engineering students and local companies a chance to display innovative ideas and designs.”

This climber is, of course, the one that turned in the best times at both the 2005 and 2006 Space Elevator Games and just missed being awarded the NASA prize money last year.

Clayton kindly emailed me tonight to let me know that a couple of videos taken at the event demonstrating their lifter are now posted on YouTube.


January 19th article in the Star Phoenix.

January 16th article in Saskatoon Home Page.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, was that an elevator car? Industry leader Otis calls NASA elevator to orbit feasible

In the interview with Dr. Bryan Laubscher on The Space Show last tuesday, Dr. Livingston somewhat jokingly talked with Dr. Laubscher about an “Otis” Space Elevator.

This reminds me of this story from where John Thackrah, vice-president of Engineering for Otis said; “Today we have the technology to create elevator systems for a five-mile-high tower… At the rate of our development efforts we could apply technology we are working on for today’s existing market to the NASA concept within the next 10 years.”

Also, I want to point my readers to a concept picture of an Otis Space Elevator posted on Flickr last October…

Help build a Space Elevator

This is from Andy Price’s email list;

As an executive recruiter, I have had the opportunity to network with you before, and appreciate your assistance on searches and in identifying qualified candidates for key positions.  My client in the Boston area, the world’s leading carbon nanotube electronics company (profiled by Scientific American in 2005 and picked as one of the “top ten” nanotechnology companies likely to go public by both Forbes and Nanotechnology Law and Business Journal) currently has openings for Postdocs, PhDs, and MS degreed individuals with expertise in the CNT arena, particularly those doing nanostructure electronics work.  These positions will require U.S. Security Clearances, so UScitizenship is mandatory.

If you are aware of ANY students (with CNT electronics experience) who will be available or graduating in June (or earlier), please feel free to alert them to these openings, and have them submit resumes/CVs to me at;

nickm AT

Thank You,

Nicholas Meyler
Ph (818)597-3200 ext. 211

So, if you qualify, what are you waiting for?  We NEED you to help get this show on the road… (Thanks, Andy)

The Space Show Interview with Dr. Bryan Laubscher now available via podcast

Last night, Dr. Bryan Laubscher, one of the driving forces behind efforts to build a Space Elevator, was interviewed on The Space Show.  Many Space-Elevator related topics were discussed along with the upcoming Space Exploration 2007 conference.

If you missed the show, you can access the podcast here.

Discovery Channel Space Elevator show trailer now available

Customer Service at the Discovery Channel seems to be akin to that of Yahoo and some other large organizations – non-existent.  They have not replied to repeated emails from me requesting information on their upcoming Space Elevator show.  However, browsing their website this evening, I found this trailer (which is quite cool) and a notice that the show will air as part of their 2057 series (as Dr. Edwards informed me) at 10:00pm.  I have no idea if that is Eastern time or whatever, but check your local listings for Sunday evening and I’m sure you’ll find it.  If/when I find more information on this show, I will post it.

One of the most interesting things on the video, IMHO, is in the very beginning when they show the earth-base.  There are 3 national flags shown on the launching platform, the flags of the USA, the European Union and China, with the Chinese flag taking center stage.  I doubt if this was a political statement by the creators, but is interesting nonetheless…

Update – the link I gave seems to work only sporadically.  If you go here, you will get to the Discovery Channel Beyond Home Page.  From there, click on the tab on the right – Video Search.  Enter “Space Elevator” (no quotes).  The trailer will be the first item shown.  You can click on the “Play clip” option and it should work for you…

When Space Elevators Go Bad…

On The Space Show tonight, Dr. David Livingston intereviewed Dr. Bryan Laubscher.  More on this in another post, but one of the topics that came up was a common question “What happens if the Space Elevator breaks?”  The idea has been (un)popularized in Science Fiction (Ben Bova’s Mercury and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy come to mind) that such an event would lead to a planet-wide catastrophe.  This is not true, of course, for the current vision of a Space Elevator – a ribbon to space, thinner than a sheet of paper.  Depending on where the break occurs, much of it may fly off into space, much may burn up in the atmosphere and some may fall to earth.

Blaise Gassend (a name you should know if you are interested in any of the technical aspects of Space Elevators) did some serious study into this matter, going so far as to create some simulations.  You can find them on this web page – they are most interesting.


Michael Laine Interview

I just ran across this June, 2005 interview with LiftPort’s Michael Laine.  It was conducted by American Antigravity.

One of my favorite parts of this interview came near the end when Michael talked about how LiftPort chose their (original) date to have the Space Elevator built by; April 12th, the date of Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight and also the date of the maiden flight of Columbia, the first Space Shuttle.  No such glamour is attached with their current estimated completion date of October 27th.  Outside of it being John Cleese’s birthday, I don’t see much else to celebrate – here’s hoping that LiftPort will add to that…

Note: At some point in the future, I’m going to move this posting from this date back to the date when the interview occurred – just to keep it in historical context.

Teams from Iran, Ukraine, Japan, Germany, Canada and the USA file to participate in the 2007 Space Elevator Games

At the Elevator2010 team page, one can see that nineteen teams have filed to compete in this year’s Space Elevator Games.   Most fascinating, to me anyway, are the entries from Iran, the Ukraine and Japan as this is the first year teams from these countries intend to compete.  There are also three teams from Germany who have filed; the rest are from Canada and the USA.

Seventeen of the teams have filed for the Climber competition with the other two filing intent to participate in the Tether competition.

All of this filing is, of course, before the February 1st deadline – the date when money is due.  When that date arrives, we’ll probably start losing some of these teams; separating the “ascenders from the pretenders” as it were…

Nevertheless, even if some of these teams drop out, I think it is encouraging to see how widely the idea of a Space Elevator and the interest in the Space Elevator Games has spread – it is truly becoming international.  My only disappointment is that we’ve seen nothing yet from “down under” – where are the teams from Perth who want to eventually build one of these in their ocean front property?

Dr. Bryan Laubscher to appear on the Space Show

Dr. Bryan Laubscher is scheduled to appear on Dr. David Livingston’s “The Space show” tomorrow, Tuesday, January 23rd, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, Pacific time.

According to the email I received from The Space Show’s email list, “Dr. Bryan Laubscher is our guest. We will be discussing the space elevator, the coming SEC 2007 along with the space elevator conference.”

You can hear the show live by going to The Space Show website.  If you miss the show, it will also be available by podcast afterwards (I’ll post a link to it when its up).

This should be a great interview and I encourage everyone to tune in.  Dr. Livingston also takes phone and email questions during the show, so if you have a question for him, this is a great time to ask.

Space Elevator Scriptures

Somehow, my search engines missed this story from Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log when it first came out – I didn’t run across it until today.  It was posted on October 6th of last year.  I’m pointing to this story just for the sake of completeness and also to augment the review I recently posted of Leaving The Planet by Space Elevator; Alan does his own review of the book.

Leaving The Planet by Space Elevator

This is a long overdue review of this book.  Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator is co-authored by Dr. Bradley Edwards and Philip Ragan and is intended, according to the blurb about it on, to be “An easy guide to the most exciting development in space travel since the rocket. Stripped of the technical jargon, this is a layman’s guide to the breathtaking developments surrounding the space elevator: a plan to string a 100,000 km from Earth to space, revolutionizing space access.”

The book certainly succeeds in doing this.  Anyone who reads this book, assuming they have at least the intelligence of the average 8th grader and are paying attention, will be able to understand a) what a space elevator is b) how it would be constructed c) how it would work d) why it would work (i.e., the physical principles involved) and e) why it is such a great idea.

Edwards and Ragan discuss everything from the practical issues one will run into in building their version of a space elevator (for example, you need the capability to get 80 tons of parts into space, assemble them together and then lift it all to the appropriate point in geosynchronous orbit), to where it could be actually be anchored on earth.  This latter point is most interesting; the authors specify six locations where the factors of nearness to the equator, lack of storms and lack of lightning strikes favor the location of a Space Elevator earthport; the largest being on the equator and west of South America, but also including three locations in the Atlantic Ocean and two locations in the Indian Ocean.  As an aside, I found the maps of places on our planet which have/do not have storms and lightning strikes over the measured period to be fascinating.

The book also addresses a common misunderstanding; the example of whirling an object attached to a string around your hand (or head) is often used to indicate how/why the elevator cable would remain straight.  This is correct of course, but people often misinterpret this to mean that anchoring the cable to the earth is necessary in order to keep it from flying away into space; as if there are going to be some gigantic clamps holding on to the end of the cable (as the hand is holding on to the end of the string).  I still use the ‘object-on-a-string’ example, but emphasize that it is gravity, acting on the entire cable (rather than on just the endpoint) which is holding it in place; i.e. it really is a cable hanging from geosynchronous orbit.  This book makes this same point in a very easy to understand way.

This is truly a fine book and is a wonderful introduction to the potential of a Space Elevator.  Highly, highly recommended.

Oh, and what’s the difference between this book and the previous effort (The Space Elevator) by Dr. Edwards and Eric Westling?  I think you can summarize it this way; The Space Elevator is more technical while Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator is more current.  I have both books and am glad I do – I refer to both of them often.

Leaving The Planet by Space Elevator is available from and  For you eBook afficianados, also offers the book in downloadable format.

(Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the books front and back cover.)

Update January 20, 2007 – There is a website dedicated to this book too – you can find it here.

Update January 24, 2007 – Well, I stand corrected.  I had written in this post that it was not really necessary to clamp the earthbound end of the tether in order to hold it to the planet – the centrifugal force pulling the tether outwards (and upwards) and the gravitational force pulling the tether downwards would be in balance.  But, as both Ben Shelef and Dr. Brad Edwards have informed me, there IS a slight, outwards (upwards) pull on the tether; otherwise when the climber was put onto the ribbon, it would have the effect of pulling the ribbon downwards.  So, to correct my earlier posting, yes, there must be a clamp holding the space elevator to earth; otherwise the tether will fly away from the planet.  But it’s not much – only about 20+ tons worth (in a system massing more than 1400 tons).  Once a 20 ton climber is placed on the ribbon, the system is then, essentially, in balance.  I apologize for my mistake…

X PRIZE Foundation Taps Former Gates Foundation Leader to Drive Expanded Mission

Here’s a link to a story on about the new head of the X Prize Foundation.  Though the story does not deal explicitly with the Space Elevator, Elevator2010 did partner with the X Prize Foundation for the 2006 Space Elevator Games and may again do so this year.

Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson

I just stumbled across this January 5th, 2007 interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He and the interviewer briefly discuss the (then) upcoming episode on Nova Science Now about the Space Elevator.

The discussion concerning the Space Elevator is just past the midway point of the interview.

I enjoy listening to Dr. Tyson; his enthusiasm is quite infectious.  Interesting facts about Dr. Tyson include the tidbits that an asteroid (13123 Tyson) is named after him and that in 2000, he was voted the “Sexiest Astrophysicist alive” by People magazine.

India and the Space Elevator

I’ve posted some articles previously (here and here) about mentions of the Space Elevator in the Indian Press.  Here is an article where the president of a Science Center in India speaks to his students and talks about, among other things, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and his invention of the concept of the Space Elevator.

Jan 18, 2007 Update – A reader posts a comment that Dr. Kalam, the person who made the address that I’m referring to, is actually the President of India, not just of this Science Center.  I got confused – I thought that Manmohan Singh was the President of India, but I was wrong.  He’s the Prime Minister of India.  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, indeed is the President of India.  My sincerest apologies to Dr. Kalam and all those I may have misled.  Here is a link to a webpage about him – he has a very impressive technical background.

Imagine that, a President of a rapidly developing country, a nuclear power and a country with an active Space Program and he’s familiar with the Space Elevator.  In Dr. Edwards latest book, he indicates that six areas on the globe are potential sites for the Space Elevator.  Two of these are in the Indian Ocean and India is the country that has an active space program and is closest to these two points.  Hmmmm….

Who will build the first Space Elevator?

To paraphrase Robert Heinlein (I don’t remember which novel this was in), “The laws of Physics work for everyone, not just Americans.”  I’m sure I have the specific quote wrong, but I think I’m accurately capturing the sentiment he was expressing – if we don’t build it, someone else can (and will).

Once the cable can actually be created, the limiting factor will be the heavy-lift capability to get it into geosynchronous orbit.  Right now, only the American and Russian space programs can do this.  But others, most notably the Chinese, Indians and Japanese may have this capability in the near future.

This is an interesting article about our future space partners/competitors.  It has nothing to do, explicitly, with building a Space Elevator, but the issues it brings up are, IMHO, very relevant to who will actually build the first Space Elevator.

I’ve been thinking about this for some time now.  We promote the Space Elevator as a tool for opening up space to everyone, not just “government employees and rich tourists”.  The idea sounds great, and, certainly, I’m all for it if it means that I might be able to get to space one day.  But its easy to imagine some (paranoid) scenarios where another country or consortium builds the Space Elevator and then sells lift capacity to people/groups who we do not agree with.

I certainly don’t propose NOT building a Space Elevator.  I just want to make sure that its we Americans who are the ones who build it and operate it… 

Robotic Cable Inspector Needed

This is an interesting article from about a cable inspection robot.  It discusses, specifically, a robot for “terrestrial underground power cable systems”, but draws the obvious parallel for the need for automated inspections of a future Space Elevator.

As a serendipitous side note, a friend of mine recently suggested that perhaps a good way to test a carbon nanotube cable, or to demonstrate it’s strength, would be to use one for the San Francisco Cable Car system.  Ben Shelef pointed out that the requirements and environmental conditions wouldn’t be the same, but that it still might be a useful idea.

Regardless, these types of climbers / robots are going to be crucial in maintaining a Space Elevator.  As a retired Computer Programmer, I’d love the challenge of programming one of these to handle any and all conditions they might encounter.

Update: For some reason, this article from takes forever and a day to load – be patient – it will happen…

More on Brad Edwards, Black Line Ascension, Michael Laine and the Easter Bunny

Over at BlogCritics, there’s an interesting set of comments on Dr. Brad Edwards latest venture (including comments from both Dr. Edwards and Michael Laine, among others).  It’s worth a read…

(PS – there’s actually nothing in there about the Easter Bunny – I just thought it looked good in the Title)

Another Space Elevator show to air on January 28th…

From Dr. Brad Edwards; “…here is a heads up on the Discovery Channel program to be premiering on Jan 28th. It is a very nice coverage of the elevator and is part of their 2057 series.”

I’ve sent an email to their website (they don’t have any phone numbers listed, unfortunately) and received one of their automated responses that they’ll respond to my query “within one week.”  We’ll see.  Anyway, I’ll continue to pursue this and will post details as soon as I have them.

Thanks for the heads-up, Dr. Edwards…

Comments on the NOVA show, or Why I smacked Brad Edwards, by Ben Shelef

Ben Shelef sent me these comments on NOVA show.  I wondered why this had happened…

As some of you may have noticed, out of two televised moments of fame I was awarded by NOVA, I spent one hitting Dr. Edwards. That’s 50% of my public face time spent on violence directed at celebrities.

For the record then: I remember the moment very vividly. Brad just showed me the stopwatch stopped on “57? and within about a third of a second, I roller-coasted between “hell yeah they made it” (thinking the ribbon was 60 m long) to “oh no they’re a hair too slow” (remembering we shortened the ribbon because of oscillations) to “oh boy we need to figure out ribbon stretch (as reality settled in), and so the semi-confused body language you all got to see started out as a pat on the back and deteriorated into a concatenation of hell-yeah-oh-no-oh-boy.  So There.

Also, Brad hit me first, but they didn’t show that.:)

May we receive a lot more coverage like this, and congratulations to all the teams that really shone in this piece. The competition is nothing more than the sum total of the teams, and with statements like “you’re definitely going to see things go wrong today!” we can’t really go wrong.

Thanks to Joe McMaster and the rest of the NOVA crew for making such a neat segment. Extra credit for the spinning Yo-Yo shot.


Space Elevator show on the Science Channel

First, the good news.  It appears that a show which regularly airs on the Science Channel, Discoveries this Week, had a segment on Space Elevators and the recent Space Elevator Games.  The bad news – there was no heads-up to this and all of us (with the exception of Brian Turner of the Kansas City Space Pirates) missed it.  Brian says he cannot find this on the web at all, and, after some looking on my own, neither can I.  But I have faith that someone will find it.

Here’s the link to the Discoveries this Week URL.  If anyone can track down a web version of this show, please, please, please let me know.

Thanks, Brian…


Black Line Ascension debuts…

The latest venture from Dr. Bradley Edwards (and Dr. Bryan Laubscher and others).  I first heard mention of this in the recently aired NOVA Science Now show – it had a blurb about him stating, among other items; “Edwards is currently with Black Line Ascension, an umbrella company with subentities working on materials development and basic engineering and research of the space elevator concept.”

I was unaware they had a website however.  Thanks to Brian Dunbar and Darnell Clayton for pointing this out.

NOVA Science Now show airs

I’ve just finished watching the NOVA Science Now show featuring, among other topics, the Space Elevator.  It was nice to see a science show that had the technical facts straight (I didn’t catch any errors – if anyone did, please correct me).  They also did a good job, in the few minutes they alloted to it, of covering the Climber competition at this year’s Space Elevator Games.  Again, they had their facts right; the University of Michigan’s Climber was first to the top, Lite-Won and TurboCrawler also made it to the top, and the USST team made it to the top in nearly prize-awarding time.

It would have been nice, however, if they had mentioned how much prize money was at stake, especially now since NASA has increased the prize money significantly – I think that would have been quite newsworthy.  Also worth mentioning, I think, would have been the Tether competition and the fact that the Space Elevator Games are an annual competition – with the third one coming up this year.

Brian Turner and the Kansas City Space Pirates must be happy with the show as they were prominently mentioned in it – there is no doubt that the “Death Ray” they attempted to ride to the top was quite unique.

As soon as the show is available online, I’ll post a link to it.  Also, on January 16th, we’re supposed to be able to see answers from Dr. Brad Edwards to questions posted to him/NOVA.  I’ll link to that when available, too.

All in all, good, free, publicity from a recognized source – and one can’t complain about that.

Updates from The Spaceward Foundation

I received this email earlier today from Ben Shelef, CEO of The Spaceward Foundation.


Hello Folks.

A short email this time.

First and foremost, Joe McMaster and Anna Lee Strachan from Nova wanted us to remind you to tune in to their Space Elevator segment today (Tuesday, January 9) at 8pm on PBS – check your local listing.

Joe and Anna came down to watch and film the competition at Las Cruces last October, so there may footage there we’ve never seen before.

The show URL is
Another item that was on our back burner for way too long is a comprehensive FAQ section, which you can now browse at

Thanks to Vern McGeorge for getting this project going so many months ago.

We have a lot more questions and answers on file – we’ll be updating the FAQ on a regular basis.  If you have a question you want answered, go ahead and email us.  If you have a question and an answer and maybe a nice illustration to go with – email them too and we may add them to the FAQ, with credits.
Finally, team registration is in progress towards the early-bird registration deadline at the end of this month.  More details will follow in February, when we have an official headcount.

  Ben, Meekk and the Spaceward Crew

Space Debris

Patrick Boake, in this blog entry, discusses Space Debris.  I’ve seen the video he’s posted here before – it really is rather alarming.

I’ve written before that I think the idea of moving the Space Elevator out of the way of “Space Debris” or active satellites or whatever is the wrong way to go.  Put a big laser on the station(s) and just zap the offending items out of existence.  And, for those few items in orbit which are a) still active and b) get in the way, offer a free launch of a new satellite to replace the old one.

get ready for the Space Elevator

I just found this October, 2004 blog article from Downtown Doll at, wondering if a Space Elevator will make rockets “as redundant as 8-tracks.”  As a previous owner of lots and lots of 8-tracks, I certainly hope so…

Update – and, has just published another article about the space elevator.  And, once again, Brian Dunbar from LiftPort has beaten me there.  The man is amazing…

IEEE – IFTF predictions do not include a Space Elevator

Last February and March, the Institute For The Future (IFTF) partnered with the Insitute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in order to conduct a survey; “The survey asked participants to identify key breakthroughs in their areas of expertise and then to forecast probabilities of future developments.”

The survey, published in September of 2006 (IFTF pdf report available here and IEEE report available here), did not specifically mention a Space Elevator – an SE was only mentioned, somewhat disparagingly as something that the survey participants were too “down-to-earth” to predict.

We’ll see…

Don’t forget upcoming NOVA Science Now Space Elevator episode

Don’t forget – tomorrow is the date when the NOVA Science Now episode featuring the efforts to develop a Space Elevator airs.

You’ll need to check your local listings of course.  Here in the Chicago area, it is supposed to air on the local PBS station, WTTW, at 8:00pm Central Time.

The official website for the episode is here (you can also find local airing times from this website).  If you go here, you can see a brief preview of the show.  According to the website, the show will be archived and available for viewing online beginning January 10th.

Update – opines about the show here.

LiftPort Energy debuts…

From the new LiftPort Energy website: “Imagine a future when space faring humans are common thanks to the Space Elevator. These are the products that would make life possible offworld, where fossil fuel energy is scarce. Think of the benefits of space energy, right here on Earth.”

Frankly, I’m not too sure what to make of this new venture.  If it keeps the lights on, well and good and I certainly wish them well, of course.

The LiftPort blog announcement is here. weighs in here.


I’ve just received an email from Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation, clarifying / expanding some subjects in some earlier posts I’ve made today.  Ben’s email is as follows;

1: dates (Note – he’s referring to the dates of the 2007 Space Elevator Games)

We don’t know yet how long the competition will run.  We want to run for 3-4 days, and have each team run at least once per day.  X-Prize Cup are not sure about their plans yet, and so neither are we.  The tentative date they have on the web site is 10/20 – 10/21, but that’s suspiciously similar to this year’s show, even though the days of the week are Sat-Sun rather then Fri-Sat.

If they do partner up with the airshow at Holloman AFB, well, the 2005 show was only a 1-day affair, and we’d make sure we have extra days for ourselves.

In short – don’t book tickets yet.

2: qualification video

In the qualification video, you need to show a zero-payload, 1 m/s ascent (2.4.d), and a full-cycle of operation within the allowed timeframe of 30 minutes.

3: my cell number below was wrong in the last email – please note. (Note – I’d already fixed this for the web posting, but the original email sent out had the wrong phone number)


Ben Shelef
The Spaceward Foundation
ben AT

Wirefly X Prize Cup Explores Expansion Plan

Wirefly X Prize Cup was the partner for the 2006 Space Elevator Games.  While no decision has yet been made as to whether or not this partnership will continue in 2007, it certainly is a strong possibility.

In this article dated December 17, 2006, Wirefly X Prize Cup expansion plans for 2007 are discussed.

And, on the X Prize Cup website, the dates of October 20-21, 2007 are given for the 2007 X Prize Cup games.  So, if the partnership between X Prize Cup and the Space Elevator Games continues this year, these are the dates you should be reserving…

Registration for this year’s Space Elevator Games moves into high gear…

Version 1.00 (the hopefully final version) of the Rulebooks for this year Space Elevator games have now been published.  You can find the Tether competition rulebook here and the Climber competition rulebook here.

Elevator2010 has sent an email to all interested parties (reproduced below, with the permission of Elevator 2010’s CEO, Ben Shelef), strongly encouraging them to register by the end of this month.

Hello Folks – Happy New Year!

You’re getting this email because you’ve either submitted an NOI, expressed informal interest, asked us enough questions about the rules, or are otherwise affiliated with the 2007 competition.  If you’re not playing this year, let me know and I will remove you from the list.

We have just received from NASA the official approved team agreements for both Beam Power and Tether competitions. This was the last missing piece of paperwork, so we are now good and ready to proceed.  We hope you are too.

At the bottom of each of the two competition pages ( and you will now find:

1:  Rulebook version 1.00  (Yes – this is the baseline official version. We do not intend to make any more changes, though the usual caveat holds.)

2:  Team agreement, with official language regarding participation of non-US teams. (life is a bit easier this year)

3:  NOI questionnaire, which we’d like you to fill out and submit along with the NOI.  (those that have done so obviously do not have to re-submit)

If you’ve submitted an NOI, please make sure you submit the questionnaire. Download, print, read, *understand* and fill out the team agreement. Fax us a copy to 650-965-2907, and send in the signed agreement, with registration fees, to: The Spaceward Foundation 725 N. Shoreline Blvd Mountain View, CA 94043

Please try to complete the process by Jan 31st.

The registration deadline is for the faxed registration forms, on 1/31/07, midnight PST. We’ll expect the registration papers to follow by mail no later than 2/15/07.

We’re looking forward to an even faster competition this year. We plan to make 2007 bigger than 2006 in much the same amount that 2006 was bigger than 2005.  In other words, we plan to rock the world.

We hope to see you on board soon,



Ben Shelef
The Spaceward Foundation
ben AT

NOVA show on the Space Elevator to be broadcast on January 9th

Both Ben Shelef of the Spaceward Foundation and Brian Turner from the Kansas City Space Pirates sent me a link to the NOVA website announcing their upcoming (January 9th) show on the Space Elevator.  You can find the website here.

I enjoy NOVA – it’s one of my favorite TV shows and so I hope and trust that they will treat the subject properly.  The website, including a short video interview with Michael Laine and Tom Nugent of LiftPort and a short Q&A with Dr. Brad Edwards, gives me assurances that the upcoming show will be sound.

The website also gives you a chance to submit questions to Dr. Edwards (through January 10th) with his (selected) answers to be posted on January 15th.

Mark your calendars!