Monthly Archives: February 2007

LiftPort Lift Tickets now available

Over at the LiftPort website, they are now selling Lift Tickets, priced at $25.00 / one ounce.  I’m not sure what one ounce item I would send up to orbit, but I’d think of something.  I guess it would depend if I get it back or not (I’m assuming I would).  Perhaps one ounce of plant seeds to see what radiation would do to them.  Any other creative ideas out there?

What one ounce (or less) item would YOU send up to orbit if you could?

$25/ounce works out to $400/pound.  If you’re going to send yourself up there, that means a diet now REALLY makes sense – every ounce you lose saves you 25 bucks…  Kind of drives it home, doesn’t it…

You can also bid on ticket number one over at eBay

Planetary Society interview with Ben Shelef

One of the organizations I belong to is The Planetary Society.  I support them because they actually DO stuff, not just sit there and talk about it.  They also have great podcasts.  Each week their host, Mat Kaplan, does a truly fine job in interviewing his guests.

I recently became a first-time entrant to their weekly Trivia contests.  Mat took the time to personally reply to me and I found out that he was well aware of the concept of the Space Elevator.  He had interviewed Ben Shelef in 2005, before the first Annual Space Elevator games occurred.  That interview can be found here and is well worth your time to listen to.  It really is well done and it gives you a window into the how and why that the Space Elevator Games exist.

This is also notice to my readers that if future Trivia contests have a subject that can, at all, be related to a Space Elevator, I’m going to post it on this blog and will urge my readers to respond to it.  Several weeks ago, their Trivia Question was “What is the altitude of Geosynchronous orbit?” – something that all Space Elevator afficianados should know by heart.  I somehow missed this show and by the time I heard it, it was too late.  It won’t happen again…

(Note: You can click on the Planetary Society picture of a Solar Sail and see a larger version – be warned – it’s a 5MB file)

Twenty-two teams now registered for the 2007 Space Elevator Games

Yet one more team has passed the financial and paperwork hurdles and is now officially registered for the 2007 Space Elevator Games.  Two teams are in the tether competition (we need more!!!), three teams are in the Limited Lifter/Power Beaming competition and fully seventeen teams are now signed up for the $$$ Lifter/Power Beaming competition.

In perusing the team web sites, I came across the attached picture – I’m not sure if this is a nose acting as a tie point for two tethers or what, but it’s cool nonetheless…

Click on the picture for a (slightly) larger version…

Early Space Elevators

This “future history” description of (eventually) four space elevators being built is, IMHO, quite interesting.  It also shows how technology can quickly change things.  The Space Elevators described in this 2003 web piece are 1) land-based, 2) were not launched for a long time after the technology was available because of the “cost of transporting the vast mass required” and 3) the fear of equatorial countries of having “thousands of kilometers of cable falling on their heads”.  All of this thinking has changed, of course, thanks to Dr. Edwards and his cohorts…

Click on the picture or visit the website for a larger version…

Site Maintenance – Phase 2

It looks like WordPress version 2.1.1 is now up and running.  It took nearly six hours to do the upgrade.  The majority of time was spent figuring out that the WordPress developers, for whatever reason, decided to combine the Posting Categories with the Link Categories.  God knows why – I certainly don’t.  This breaks one of the cardinal rules of system/program development – using one entity for two purposes.  Only a bad end can come to it (and I predict it will).  I’ve had to install some Category hierarchy in order to get my sidebar to display properly.  Stupid.  When I go to post now, all of the Link Categories show up in my Posting Category options too.  Stupid.

On the plus side, the theme that I’m using, Blix, has been upgraded to Version 2.1 by it’s author.  This means that I was able to just load it, put in the changes I’ve made to customize it, and go (once I figured out the Category nonsense).  It’s also been re-titled to BlixKreig (the developer is a German – clever, eh?).

So, I think it’s all working, but I haven’t examined every single post.  It looks like the plugins are working too…

Please, please, please – if you run into ANY kind of problem reading a post, accessing a link, or whatever, let me know.  I want this blog to be problem-free for it’s users.

Thanks for your patience everyone…

Detecting Radiation

Radiation is one of those “gonna’ have to worry about it” issues for Space Elevator passengers (and possibily some of the cargo), but one that can, hopefully be dealt with.  If I’m in a climber, I would like some sort of positive reinforcement that whatever shielding has been provided is working and that I’m not getting pinged with too much radiation.

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, in cooperation with faculty and midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy, is developing a portable measuring device for measuring radiation.  They’re targeting it for Lunar and Martian missions, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work on a Space Elevator.

Register now for the 2007 Space Exploration Conference

Phil Richter, the Administrative Chair for the Space Engineering and Science Institute, was Dr. David Livingston’s guest on the Space Show this past Tuesday.  The podcast for the show is available here.

Phil discussed the upcoming SESI2007 Conference with Dr. Livingston and various call-in guests.

Of special note: discounted Hotel rates are available only until the end of the month for the 2007 Space Exploration Conference to be held in Albuquerque, NM from March 25th through the 28th.  The current rates ($70/night I think) for this hotel really are cheap, but they’re only available through February 28th.  If you haven’t booked your room yet, now is the time to do so.

Self-healing carbon nanotubes

This rocks!  According to this article, carbon nanotubes may have the capability to spontaneously repair themselves.

One of the major concerns about a carbon-nanotube space-elevator ribbon is, of course, the damage it will receive when deployed.  Meteors, atomic oxygen, radiation, salt water (at spaceport level), etc., all have the capability to wreak havoc with such a structure.

This article seems to indicate that there are some inherent properties of the material itself which would offset/mitigate these problems.

Carbon Nanotubes

Regular readers of this blog know that I have limited my postings (with very few exceptions) to those items which are directly related to the concept of a Space Elevator.  There are already enough other excellent blogs out there which touch on other “space-related issues” – we don’t need another one…

However, I’m going to branch out a bit, though, and begin covering carbon-nanotube news items that are, IMHO, space-elevator related.  I don’t think it’s a stretch; we’re not going to have a Space Elevator until carbon-nanotube technology gets to the point where we can build one.  News in this area is relevant to all of us who believe that a space elevator is a much more sane way to get out of earth’s gravity well.  LiftPort continues to tease us with their nanotube factory; the Federal government continues to fund Nanotube technology (more on this later) and nanotechnology, in general, shows up more and more in both news items and in actual applications.

I’m not going to post about nanotube or nanotechnology as it relates to medicine or global warming or anything that cannot be conceivably related to the development of a Space Elevator, unless, of course, I think it’s monumentally cool…

So, to begin with, here’s a site that has absolutely nothing directly to do with building a space elevator, but is monumentally cool and is worth a look by space elevator aficianados, nonetheless…

Reminder: SESI’s Phil Richter to appear on The Space Show tomorrow

As I blogged about earlier, the Administrative Chair of SESI, Phil Richter, will appear on The Space Show tomorrow, Tuesday, February 20th, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm Pacific Time.  Tune into The Space Show to hear it live or else catch the podcast later.

From The Space Show’s announcements;

“We welcome Phil Richter to the program to discuss Space Exploration 2007, the space elevator conference and much more. Mr. Richter is a structural engineer with expertise in lunar structures.”

Twenty-one teams now registered for the 2007 Space Elevator Games

On February 1st, I posted that seventeen teams were now fully registered (i.e., they’ve done the paperwork and have paid the entrance fee) for the 2007 Space Elevator Games.  That number has now increased to twenty-one.  At this rate, we’ll have seventy-seven and a half teams registered by the times the Games start… 🙂

Two of these teams are registered in the Tether competition (Astroaraneae, last year’s winner, and a team from MIT) while the other nineteen are in the Climber/Power Beaming event.

Of these nineteen, three are in this year’s new event, the “Limited Competition”.  Entrants in this competition are essentially playing by the rules of the 2006 Space Elevator Games; 50 meters of travel at an average speed of at least 1m/s.  There is no money to be awarded for the Limited competition, but it’s a great way to get some experience in this event while working towards the 2008 Space Elevator games.  The three teams in the Limited event are from Japan, Iran and Spain.  The Spanish team, Recens, was the victim of a shipping snafu with UPS and their climber never made it to the 2006 Space Elevator Games.  I’m glad to see that they haven’t been so put off by this that they gave up.  One has to like their chances this year as they had a climber ready and working for last year (they’ll probably charter an Iberia Air plane direct to wherever the competition is going to be held this year).  You can see pictures of it by clicking on the “Photos” link at the top of the blog.

One also has to have respect for whatever the Japanese are going to attempt to do – they are not exactly technological neophytes.

The mystery team, for me, is the one from Iran.  I await their arrival and entry with great anticipation.  The Islamic world has been a technological backwater for centuries.  I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for eight years in the 1980’s and saw little native technological advancement in my time there.  There’s nothing inherent about it, it’s just the way it’s been.  But it’s only a matter of time before this changes and perhaps the Iranian entry is a manifestation of that.

I’m disappointed that we’ve seen nothing from India, China or Australia – maybe I’ll write their Presidents and ask them why they’re chicken 🙂

SESI’s Phil Richter to appear on The Space Show

Phil Richter, the Administrative Chair of the Space Engineering and Science Institute (SESI), will appear on Dr. David Livingston’s The Space Show on Tuesday, February 20th.  The show’s broadcast time has not yet been posted, but the Tuesday shows are normally aired from 7:00pm to 8:30pm Pacific Time.

SESI is hosting this year’s Second International Conference and Exposition on Science, Engineering and Habitation in Space and the Second Biennial Space Elevator Workshop (SESI2007), in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from March 25th through the 28th.

Some weeks ago, Bryan Laubscher appeared on The Space Show and discussed some of the events at this conference.  Since then, SESI has released its Program Highlights and Schedule.  Mr. Richter and Dr. Livingston are sure to discuss this and other ongoing developments for this conference.

You can tune in to the show here, or, if you can’t catch the broadcast, all of The Space Shows are available afterwards via podcast.

Carbon Nanotube-based tether may debut at 2007 Space Elevator Games

I’ve started email conversations with some of the teams registered to participate in the 2007 Elevator Games.  It’s much too early, of course, to know exactly what everyone is going to be doing, but I received this interesting bit of information from Michael Remington of Team Astroaraneae, an entrant into this years tether competition.

For those of you who don’t know, Team Astroaraneae produced the strongest tether in last year’s competition, though not strong enough to win the prize.  I asked Michael if they were planning on using carbon nanotubes in this year’s entry and this was his reply;

We are glad to be back competing as the reigning champion of the Tether Competition.  With an increase of the House Tether’s expected load carrying capacity jumping, from 1,300lbs in 2005 to greater than 1,660lbs in 2006, we have no other choice but to compete with a tether composed with nanotubes…if we intend to win the Grand Prize.  I will leave it up to you to speculate as to what we truly intend to do. 🙂


Do keep in mind one thing though: anyone can compete with a tether made of nanotubes.  All you need is $100 of nanotubes and some glue.  The trick is to make one that is stronger than the state of the art, and no one in the world has displayed this capability…yet.

So, we’ll have to wait and see.  As I assume they’re interested in winning the Grand prize ($500K this year – that’s real folding money…), I would take his words to mean that they WILL introduce a carbon-nanotube tether this year (of what percentage nanotubes and how constructed, I haven’t a clue).  But a winning tether, composed of carbon-nanotubes, would give a real kick to Space Elevator development…

NASA’s not interested in Space Elevators…

On the Sunday, February 11th edition of The Space Show, Ken Davidian of NASA was interviewed.  Ken is the man behind the seven Centennial Challenges currently being sponsored by NASA.  The Beam Power and Tether competitions at the Space Elevator Games comprise two of these seven Centennial Challenges.

The interview was really enjoyable to listen to; Ken is obviously committed and passionate about Centennial Challenges.  He gave us a history of how they came about, how they are being funded (or not), why they are set up the way they are and what NASA is looking to get out of them.

I was surprised to learn that NASA is NOT interested in the Beam Power Competition to power a Space Elevator, nor are they interested in the Tether competition to build a Space Elevator.  Ken put it quite bluntly: “NASA’s not interested in Space Elevators…”, at least not as far as the Centennial Challenges are concerned.  NASA is looking at the results / winners / new technologies developed out of the Beam Power competition for Lunar exploration purposes and they are looking at the Tether competition for fundamental materials research.  However, by partnering with the Spaceward Foundation for these two challenges, NASA is getting what it wants while helping us Space Elevator believers further our goal.

The other really interesting thing he said was that if a Space Elevator is ever built, then NASA would want to be a “good customer” (along with many others) for it.

Ken also described, in some detail, how the funding for these Centennial Challenges has happened (and not) and touched on many other subjects.

A fascinating interview, well worth your time (it’s an hour and half long, but it goes by quickly).

Reminder – NASA’s Ken Davidian to appear on The Space Show tomorrow

Remember, Ken Davidian, the man behind NASA’s Centennial Challenges (including the Space Elevator Games) is scheduled to appear on The Space Show this coming Sunday, February 11th, from 12:00 noon to 1:30pm (Pacific Time).  For more details, check my previous post on this subject.

I’m very interested to hear what Ken has to say about the number of teams already registered for this years competition and NASA’s stance on funding these Centennial Challenges in general.

Tune in – I think you’ll enjoy the show.

SESI2007 Program Highlights and Schedule released

The website for the upcoming Space Exploration 2007 conference has been updated with a new document; “Program Highlights and Schedule”.  You can find it on their website (under the Current Conference tab) or you can find it here.

This conference will have presentations from both the “Space Elevator” and the “Science, Engineering and Habitation in Space” communities  It’s a single-track conference; i.e., it will be possible to hear all the presentations.

The Program is exciting; addresses from such Space Elevator stalwarts as Dr. Brad Edwards, Dr. Bryan Laubscher, and Ben Shelef are scheduled.  In addition, other Space-Elevator-themed presentations will occur.

I plan on being there as both presenter and blogger (hopefully live-blogger).

Dr. David Livingston from The Space Show will also be there; I’m very much looking forward to meeting him.  Dr. Livingston interviews luminaries from across the “Space” spectrum.  He has interviewed Dr. Brad Edwards and Liftport’s Michael Laine and has recently interviewed Dr. Bryan Laubscher, one of the organizers of this conference.  And, don’t forget, he will be interviewing Ken Davidian (NASA’s man behind the Space Elevator Games) this coming Sunday.

Make your reservations soon.  If you want to know what the current state of affairs in the “Space Elevator world” are and you want to discuss them with those in the know, this is the place to be.

It’s going to be an exciting 3&1/2 days…

Arthur C. Clarke on the Space Elevator (and Star Trek and other things)

My all time favorite Sci-fi author is Sir Arthur C. Clarke.  I do believe I’ve read every story he has written and am eagerly awaiting the completion and release of his “last novel” (The Last Theorem).  His Fountains of Paradise was what introduced me (and countless others) to the concept of a Space Elevator.

A couple of weeks ago, he wrote a tribute to Star Trek and, as part of that, a general greeting to all of his fans.  You can find both of them here, at the American Antigravity blog.  It has a great opening line;

“Friends, Earthlings, ETs – lend me your sensory organs!”

Sir Arthur Clarke discusses the Space Elevator and the Space Elevator Games at the XPrize Cup.  We also learn that as the inventor of the satellite telecommunication industry, he received the “astronomical sum of 15 pounds sterling” for his efforts.  He needed a better attorney…

A fine read from a real visionary.  Sir Arthur Clarke turns 90 this year, on December 16th.  We should be marking this event with nearly the same enthusiasm as Yuri’s night is…

(Click on the thumbnails to view larger versions)

(07OCT07 – Update – I stand corrected.  Sir Clarke’s birthday is on December 16th, not the 17th as I had originally posted.  I apologize for the error)


This review of a new book by Mary Rosenblum, Horizons, along with favorable comments about it on, have induced me to buy this book.  I’ve posted before about how, IMHO, a very interesting sub-culture would eventually emerge on Space Elevator structures, and this book seems to have this idea as its background.

If I ever become a fiction author (and the thought has crossed my mind more than once), this is the subject I’d probably tackle first – I think it is fascinating grist to be explored.

Once I’ve read this book, I’ll post my own review of it.

(Click on the thumbnail for a larger version of the book cover)

Next Stop Space Elevator

At the Universe Blog, the author opines about the paradigm shift in thinking required to bring about a Space Elevator – and the resulting paradigm shift that it would make.

The line that grabbed me the most was this one; “Think about it. No thunderous rocketry. No risky landings. Rockets are so expensive — and launching them so damn burdensome — that they will probably always keep the democratization of space travel at bay.”

Is that really true?  Lately, I’ve started paying some attention to the private (enterprise) rocketry crowd and I hear claims that they think they will be eventually be able to bring payloads to LEO for “hundreds of dollars per kilogram”.  Them’s Space Elevator numbers…

Can they do it?  I don’t know.  I do know that I’ve been unquestioningly accepting the fact that “rocket launches will always be expensive and always be dangerous”, a mistake I don’t intend to keep on repeating.  NASA and government rocket launches are expensive and risky, that doesn’t mean they are intrinsically so.

Incidentally, the pen and ink concept drawing of an Ocean-based Lift platform (from the LiftPort archives) that is included in the article is really quite lovely.

Of course, just because something is done with private enterprise in control (or at least involved), doesn’t guarantee that things will be successful, as this recent video of a commercial Sea Launch Zenit 3SL gone bad shows;

I found it ironic that they cut to the Sea Launch logo immediately after the blast; it seemed like they were saying “This disaster brought to you by Sea Launch”…

NASA’s Ken Davidian to appear on The Space Show

Ken Davidian, the man behind NASA’s Centennial Challenges (including the Space Elevator Games) is scheduled to appear on The Space Show this coming Sunday, February 11th, from 12:00 noon to 1:30pm (Pacific Time).

If you have questions about any aspect of NASA’s support of the Space Elevator Games, and the Centennial Challenges in general, please listen to this show and phone or email in your questions.  Dr. David Livingston, who hosts The Space Show, does a fine job in both interviewing his guests and in making sure that all listener questions are addressed.

A mostly unknown story about Ken; as many of you know, I was the “Official Blogger” for the 2006 Space Elevator games.  I was not there for the first couple of days of trial runs, but Ken was.  He was the one who took the videos and pictures I posted on this blog until I arrived in Las Cruces the day before the competition started.  He and I had to figure out the best way of downloading/uploading files and commentary (and quickly learned to love YouTube for videos).  Ken is gracious and a pleasure to work with and I look forward to hearing him speak this Sunday.

Tune in please, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


(For a larger picture of Ken, click on the thumbnail) 

Seventeen teams now registered for the 2007 Space Elevator Games

There are now seventeen teams who have finalized their entry for this year’s Space Elevator games, with more, hopefully, to come.

A complete list of the teams, including both the ones fully registered and ones who’s registration is still pending, can be found here.

Of these seventeen teams, only one is entered in the tether competition; the other sixteen are entered in the Climber/Power Beaming event.  Of these sixteen teams, eleven are from the USA, three are from Canada, one is from Germany and one (the only one in the Limited event) is from Japan.

Six teams are returning veterans; USST, MClimber, LiteWon, Kansas City Space Pirates, Centaurus and Astroaraneae (I always have to double-check the spelling on that one).  The other eleven teams will be first-time competitors.

Over at The Space Elevator Journal, Patrick Boake gives us an introduction to one of the new contestants in this year’s Space Elevator Games, The McGill Space Elevator Team.

It’s only February 1st – there are at least eight months to go before the games and already I’m starting to feel pumped.