Archive for December, 2007
This morning, I received the following email from Ben Shelef at the Spaceward Foundation, wrapping up 2007 - a great year for the Space Elevator community. If you want to get on the Spaceward Foundation’s email list, just visit them at their Homepage and sign up.
Spaceward Foundation News Bulletin
Newsletter #4 - December 31, 2007
Hello folks, and Happy New Year!It’s been a while since our last newsletter - seems that whenever something’s going on in Space Elevator land, we’re always too busy to write.
Two months after the 2007 games, this is a good time to briefly reflect on this past year, and update you on our next steps for ‘08 and beyond.In this newsletter:
- A look back at 2007
- A preview of our plans for 2008
- A new partner
- Carbon Nanotube news
For those who missed the real-time action, the official wrap-up of the 2007 Spaceward Games is posted online at www.spaceward.org/games07Wrapup.html. As usual, you can re-live the day-by-day coverage at the archives at Ted Semon’s Space Elevator Blog
and Marc Boucher’s Space Elevator Reference
.The most significant result of the 2007 games, however, is not measured in units such as kilograms or in meters per second. What we saw in 2007 was a huge leap in the level of technology fielded by the teams. In particular, our two laser-based teams, USST and LaserMotive, designed and built complex advanced systems worthy of an aerospace project, and have acquired a set of capabilities that attracted industry interest to our competition. In terms of fulfilling the charter of the games, we could not have asked for more.Looking back, you may remember that Space Elevator games did not exist before 2005. Unlike our role models – Solar car races and rocketry clubs, we did not have a rich tradition of games spanning tens of years to rely on. We started practically from scratch, and we are immensely proud of how our teams have grown.
Having wrapped up the games, our next order of business was charting the course for 2008. The immediate choices we looked at were keeping the challenge goals the same as in ‘07, doubling the speed or height requirements, or doubling both. However, after gathering feedback from existing and potential teams, the Space Elevator community, and relevant industry experts, we decided to go for something a bit more grandiose…
In broad strokes, the goal of the Space Elevator games is to bring the Space Elevator closer to reality. The goal of the power beaming challenge is to promote power beaming technology. We think that the time is ripe now to move the competition to the next level, addressing real-world power beaming scenarios where the minimum requirements for such systems start at the km range and kWatt power levels.For the 2008 power beaming challenge, therefore, we’ve chosen a climb height of 1 km.There’s a drum roll missing here. 1 km is the height a jetliner is at when the cabin crew asks you to put your laptop away… To show what a 1 km tall race track looks like, we’ve posted a preview at the Power Beaming page
. (The location shown is hypothetical, of course!) Also note the comparison to the 2007 games – those were held inside the small orange circle just below and to the left of the center-image.
To match the change in scope, we’re also increasing the available prize money. As a matter of fact, we will be making the entire $2,000,000 available this year, depending on the speed of the climb. For 2 m/s, we’ll be offering the originally scheduled $900k prize, but if a team can reach 5 m/s this year, it will receive the entire $2M purse. If not claimed, we’ll keep the prizes and challenge the same for 2009.
The racetrack we’re planning, based on a pyramid-tethered balloon, will be the tallest such pyramid ever flown. We’re working with industry experts to set this up, and will keep you updated. This is very exciting for us, since this architecture is extendable to 10 km as well – almost a percent of a percent of the real Space Elevator…. In all seriousness though, while obviously all Earth-bound Space Elevator models are vastly shorter than the real thing, as far as reproducing the look-and-feel of a Space Elevator, this setup will go a long way towards demonstrating what the SE will be like.
Registration for the 2008 games is now open, and the first teams have already started working on their entries.
We are very excited to announce the participation of TRUMPF
as a sponsor for competition teams. TRUMPF will provide their top-of-the-line laser to qualifying teams to be used as the beam source, easily enabling 1 km power beaming.
Finally, last but definitely not least, we’d like to share this exciting bit of news about Carbon Nanotube tethers: About a month ago, as reported at the Space Elevator conference in Luxembourg, a team from Cambridge University produced the first macroscopic carbon fibers that exhibited the kind of strength we were all expecting so see. These fibers, up to 1 mm long, clocked in at 10 N/tex, or about a fifth of what we need to build the Space Elevator (see here
for details) We’re looking forward to seeing this team and other CNT labs entering the tether competition next year.
So with this happy bit of news we’ll sign off for this newsletter.
Have a happy new year!
The Spaceward Team.
The Spaceward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit dedicated to furthering Space exploration in educational curriculums and the public mindshare - http://www.spaceward.org.
December 31st, 2007
Akira Tsuchida, team leader of E-T-C, emailed me to let me know about a new animation series, Mobile Suit Gundam, which is now being broadcast in Japan on Saturday evenings at 7:30pm. The plot centers around three space elevators (one owned by the Americas and Japan, one owned by Russia, China and India and one owned by Europe and Africa). The series website has a plot summary, in Japanese of course. When you plug the plot summary into AltaVista’s Babel Fish Translator, you get the following:
“Western calendar 2307. The fossil fuel was depleted, but the mankind was obtaining the new energy which is substituted to that. 3 these enormous tracked elevators and the large-scale solar power generating system which accompanies that. But, those where benefit of this system can be obtained were just the large country and that ally of part. Three superpower groups which own three tracked elevators. The United States of America was centered, ‘ the union ‘. China, Russia and India were centered, ‘ mankind reformist union ‘. Europe was centered, ‘ AEU ‘. Each superpower group because of dignity and prosperity of oneself, continues the great zero-sum game. So, being 24 centuries, the mankind was yet can become one……. In the world of the fight which does not have such end, the private armament organization which puts out “the elimination of the war with military force” appears. As for their names which own mobile suit “Gundam”, ソレスタルビーイング. Military intervention to all the war behavior which are according to Gundam starts.”
Akira sent me another translation of the plot summary:
“2037 in Christian era.
The human race was obtaining new energy that took the place of it though the fossil fuel dried up. Large-scale photovoltaic generation system according to tree huge orbit elevator. However, it was only a part of large country and the ally that obtained the favor of this system.
Three super power groups that own three orbit elevators.
’Union’: USA, North and South America countries and Japan,
’Human race reformation league’: China, Russia, and India
’AEU’: Europe and Africa
Each super power group continues a considerable zero-sum game with prestige by yourself for prosperity.
The human race had it was not possible to finish uniting into one yet though it became a century the 24th so …….
A private, armed organization to which “Extermination of the war by military power” hangs appears in the world of such an endless fight. Names of men who own movable suit “Gundam” are Sorestalbeing.
The military power intervention to all hostilities by Gundam starts.”
There is also a website which has brief snippets of some of the episodes.
The heros seem to be a cross between the Power Rangers and the Transformers.
So, if you have access to Japanese TV, enjoy!
(The pictures are taken from the video clips. Click on them for a slightly larger version or visit the website to see them in action.)
30DEC07 - Correction. I received two email comments on this post from “K Elmer” who informed me that “Just to be correct, the name is Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Mobile Suit Gundam was the first series in the franchise in 1979.” There is a Wikipedia entry for this particular series and it contains a much more coherent description of it’s plot than I provided. Just to give you a level of detail contained in this Wikipedia entry, here is an excerpt:
“Mobile Suit Gundam 00 follows four mobile suit pilots termed Gundam Meisters ( ガンダムマイスター, Gandamu Maisutā?), sided with Celestial Being. The protagonist is 16-year old Setsuna F. Seiei (刹那・F・セイエイ, Setsuna F. Seiei?), a quiet, taciturn young man who grew up in the Kurdish Republic, and a Gundam Meister for two years. He pilots the GN-001 Gundam Exia, a high mobility mobile suit effective in melee combat.”
I had no idea…
Thanks K Elmer!
December 29th, 2007
I have written several posts (most recently, here and here) about the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) and it’s struggle to stay alive. At the end of last August, NASA had killed this agency, citing budget issues.
From this posting by Leonard David at LiveScience, it appears that at least some people in the House Appropriations Committee think this may not have been such a good idea.
Quoting Mr. Leonard’s post: “From the report, the committee has expressed concern that NASA has decided to close the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts ‘without a rigorous assessment of the Institute’s merit.’”
I can only say “Amen” to that… I’m sure that both NASA and the Appropriations Committee have a gazillion special interest groups yammering at them about how “their project” has to be funded. But NIAC was underwriting, and leveraging, an investment in the future, real “blue-sky” stuff. Their investment into Dr. Edwards research was a perfect example. Anyone who attended or paid attention to this year’s Space Elevator Games and saw not only a carbon-nanotube tether, but also multiple laser-powered climbs, knows that this is an idea whose time is rapidly approaching. And the NIAC grant to Dr. Edwards helped make it happen.
The final NIAC report (available here) makes for very interesting reading. The NIAC “Funding Tree” (shown as a graphic at the top of this post - click on it for a larger version) shows how NIAC-distributed funds leveraged private-sector funds. The most successful of these, again according to this graphic, was Dr. Edwards work with the Space Elevator concept. NIAC summarized it’s funding of Dr. Edward’s research as follows:
“This effort sparked the creation of numerous businesses and attracted funding with a particular emphasis on the development of carbon nanotube materials. Space Elevator has been the focus of numerous prize competitions, including NASA’s Centennial Challenges program. Additional support: at least $8.5 million. Future impact: billions if not trillions of dollars in launch savings relative to current methods. As one NIAC Fellow explained: “The Space Elevator would change everything.”
I love that last line; “The Space Elevator would change everything.” It would, it certainly would.
If you have a member of the Appropriations Committee from your state (and better yet, from your district), write him/her a letter and let them know what you think. Compared to the $555 billion dollar appropriations bill which was just signed into law, the total NIAC budget of $5.9 million (over 9 years) is not even a rounding error.
December 28th, 2007
The BBC Documentary series, “Visions of the Future” recently aired an episode talking about Carbon Nanotubes and the Space Elevator.
Courtesy of the magic of YouTube, this video is now online. You can tell that this video is slightly dated as it discusses the Space Elevator Game prizes of “half a million dollars” (it’s double that now), but it was made just before the last competition; the teams from DeltaX and LaserMotive make a cameo appearance.
December 26th, 2007
Markus Klettner from EuroSpaceward sent me this extremely cool Season’ Greetings graphic.
Click on it for a larger version.
December 23rd, 2007
In my last post on this subject, I wrote about the changes that were being implemented for the upcoming Space Elevator Games. They are:
- The climb will now be one full kilometer (10 times what was required in the 2007 Games).
- There will now be two levels of prizes: $900,000 (for a climb averaging 2m/s and $1,100,000 for a climb averaging 5 m/s).
I also wrote about how a couple of laser-supply companies (TRUMPF and DILAS) are now working with Spaceward to help lower the costs of the lasers which will be necessary to power a climber a full kilometer up from the ground.
In this post, I want to talk about the raceway itself. How do you build a one kilometer vertical raceway system, a system which will have to a) support the raceway itself, b) support the climber, c) be able to lower “stuck” climbers back to the ground and d) be undamaged by stray laser beams that may occur? And, once you have this raceway system, where do you put it?
The first part of this question, how do you build this raceway, has a tentative answer. Spaceward is aiming towards a balloon-supported system with a raceway made out of 3/16″ or 1/4″ twisted steel cable. As was all too obvious last year, Spaceward needed to find something much stronger than the ribbon they used in the previous two competitions (and which broke a couple of times last year). The steel cable is more than strong enough, but will require that the Climbers use a different mechanism to grip the raceway than they did before. The balloon would be tethered with (probably) three cables. The raceway cable itself would travel from a ground point (centered between the three tether cables) up to the balloon. Fears of the laser hitting the balloon and causing it to burst are unfounded because most of the time the wind will be blowing the balloon and moving it and, consequently, the cable system holding it up and the raceway itself. This will cause the raceway cable to droop some and so a laser aimed at a climber on the cable will not be pointed directly at the balloon. When the climber gets very close to the top, a small shield under the balloon can shield it. It may also turn out that the balloon itself is “invisible” to the lasers in the 800-1000 nm range, rendering the whole issue moot.
So, we have a tentative solution to building a one km raceway. Now, where do you put it? This becomes a very big system. The diameter of the circle created by the tethers is on the order of two-three kilometers; i.e. nearly two miles. To get an idea of how big that is, Spaceward has posted on their site (and also shown on this post) a picture of how big the raceway system would be in respect to Meteor Crater in Arizona (as an aside, wouldn’t that be the coolest place for a racecourse ever?). This is where we are now; Spaceward is actively looking for a site to hold the 2008 Competition. On their 2008 Competition web page, they list the following sites they are considering:
- Davis County Fairgrounds, UT (where the 2007 Games were held)
- Meteor Crater, AZ (pictured)
- Bonneville Salt Flats, UT
- Albuquerque Balloon Festival, NM
- White Sands, NM
- Rockets Sites:
Brothers Rocket Site, OR
Black Rock, NV
Jean Dry lake, NV
Tripoli Idaho Swan Falls, ID
- NASCAR raceways:
(must be away from airports!)
So, if you know of any sites that might satisfy the requirements (Sites must be able to accommodate a 1 km tall tethered balloon pyramid, offer convenient logistics support, and be relatively easily accessible. Natural landmarks get extra points.) please let Ben Shelef at Spaceward know! You can contact Ben via email at ben [at] spaceward [dot] org.
December 22nd, 2007
On Thilina Heenatigala’s blog, he has a posting about Arthur C. Clarke’s 90th birthday party.
The picture shown is Sir Clarke along with Russian Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. Click on it for a larger version (or visit Thilina’s blog to view it and other pictures from the Birthday party).
December 21st, 2007
For the past several weeks, the Spaceward Foundation has been actively working to set up next year’s Space Elevator Games. As with the previous games, the goals in the Climber / Power-Beaming competition continue to get more ambitious. Two major changes for the 2008 Games are:
- The climb will now be 1 kilometer (10 times what was required in the 2007 Games).
- There will now be two levels of prizes: $900,000 (for a climb averaging 2m/s and $1,100,000 for a climb averaging 5 m/s).
The magnitude-sized increase in the length of the Power-Beaming climb will now almost certainly mean that only laser-powered entries will be able to successfully compete. We only had two such entries, USST and Lasermotive, in the just-completed games.
One of the reasons why only two teams took this route this year is that Lasers are EXPENSIVE - just ask those teams that used them in the last competition (or looked at them and reluctantly went to some other power source because they couldn’t afford them). And a laser that will power a climber a full Kilometer will have to be much more powerful than the ones used for the 100 meter climb this year - and that means even more expensive.
Spaceward has been talking with several different laser manufacturers to see if they would support the competition. At least two companies, TRUMPF and DILAS, have responded. This is from an email sent out earlier this week from Spaceward’s Ben Shelef:
“TRUMPF’s involvement is now official. They will support up to 4 groups with a laser on-site, plus testing at their factories. This is not strictly on a first-come basis, but we’re going to start forming these relationships now. This setup is capable of generating a 40 cm spot size, and the wavelength is 1040 nm. I want to stress (yet again) that they provide the light source delivered through an optical fiber - you have to build the rest of the optics. Also, travel and shipping, insurance, etc - this is not an all-expenses paid environment.
DILAS is offering an aggregeatable module system for sale which includes a light source and collimating optics and projects a 1 meter diameter spot at distances of up to 1 km. This is a different concept - you buy it and take it home with you. The cost is $10-12 per watt, and comes in 2500 Watt modules. We are allowing these modules to be shared as well. DILAS can supply a variety of wavelengths between 800 and 980nm.
From Spaceward’s point of view, this is a very good scenario - at least two viable and technically different baseline options.”
This should advance the technology even more quickly as it should allow multiple teams to create a laser-powered entry.
I looked at the web sites for both TRUMPF and DILAS. The TRUMPF site mentions it’s Laser Community, a magazine it produces devoted to the laser field. In the current issue, they make the following statement on the last page of the magazine: “100,000 Kilometers - Across this distance, laser beams may one day power the motors of the so-called Space Elevator. For now, this way from the Earth to Outer Space is still a technical dream. If and when it is ever realized is written in the stars.” Sounds like these guys ‘get it’.
As noted earlier, there will be two levels of prizes, one of $900,000 for team(s) meeting or exceeding 2 m/s and one of $1,100,000 for team(s) meeting or exceeding 5 m/s. This means that a prize purse of two MILLION dollars will be available for this competition. There will also be cash prizes awarded for teams that average at least 1 m/s for the Kilometer-length climb - these prizes will be taken out of the two million dollar purse.
The formula for awarding these prizes, as well as all of the other proposed rules for the 2008 competition, are contained in the preliminary rulebook available here.
Next up - how and where do you set up a 1 Kilometer raceway?
December 19th, 2007
As I have written before, Search Engines are funny things. They just turned up this paper, presented at the 2004 International Astronautical Congress, held in Vancouver, Canada in 2004.
It was presented by Dr. David Raitt and Dr. Brad Edwards. who, incidentally, were the Editors of Running the Line, “Selected stories and images from the 2005 Clarke-Bradbury International Science Fiction Competition.”
December 18th, 2007
Happy 90th Sir Clarke!! Thank you for the inspiration and the hours and hours of reading pleasure you have given me. I hope that you get to see a real Space Elevator being built…
December 16th, 2007
There are interesting and wonderful possible applications for a Space Elevator and then there are ideas which just don’t seem to rise even to the level of fantasy.
From the article: “…a brave new world could be built from the remains of our current one. The circumference of this construction– dubbed Globus Cassus, or ‘hollow sphere’ in Latin– would be comparable to the giant planet Saturn. During the multi-million year assembly period, massive hoses would worm deep into the Earth’s fiery bowels and suck liquid metal and magma into orbit through four space elevators sited at equal distances around the equator. This material would be squirted out and transformed into a lattice framework to support the rest of the edifice. As the Earth gradually shrivels and shrinks under this onslaught, its gravity would weaken. Over generations, the skies would darken with the relentless encroachment of the enormous structure above.”
Even though the author (yes, you can buy a book about this) seems serious, I’d put this one down in the “you must be joking” category.
The drawing is from the “Damn Interesting” website, the website where I found this article on (click on it for a slightly larger version). I highly recommend ”Damn Interesting”, it truly has some very interesting articles on all sorts of strange things…
December 13th, 2007
Today I received the following email from Thilna Heenatigala, the General Secretary of the Sri Lankan Astronomical Association:
Sixty two years ago Arthur C. Clarke of the British Interplanetary Society sent a letter to the editor titled Peacetime Uses for V2 which was published in the 1945 February issue of the Wireless World magazine suggesting the use of Geostationary Satellites for the instant global communications. Quoting,“I would like to close by mentioning a possibility of the more remote future–perhaps half a century ahead. An “artificial satellite” at the correct distance from the earth would make one revolution every 24 hours; i.e., it would remain stationary above the same spot and would be within optical range of nearly half the earth’s surface. Three repeater stations, 120 degrees apart in the correct orbit, could give television and microwave coverage to the entire planet.”
Today, the Clarke Orbit has over 330 satellites. Sir Arthur C. Clarke, a science-fiction author, inventor, and futurist, simply a greate mind celebrates his 90th birth anniversary on 16th of December, 2007.
In 1959, he founded the Ceylon Astronomical Association (now known as Sri Lanka Astronomical Association). As the current General Secretary of the Association, I’m honored to run an association founded by him. And as a big fan of his writings and admirer of his work, I have put up a blog where every one could wish him for his 90th birth day.If you are a friend, colleague, fan or simply an earthling who admires work of Sir Arthur Clarke, please write your greetings and good wishes on the blog. Please forward this message around and publish in your website/ magazine/ paper/blog etc… if possible.Let us wish together a healthy and a long life for Sir Arthur.Post your greetings and wishes on http://SirArthurCClarke90.blogspot.com
Sri Lanka Astronomical Association
Readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. I think I can honestly say I’ve read everything he’s ever written for public consumption, both fiction and non-fiction. His book The Fountains of Paradise was what introduced me to the concept of a Space Elevator and is probably the main reason this blog exists. One of my fantasies is that someday he would attend some Space Elevator Function (the Games, a Workshop / Seminar, etc.) and that I would be attending it too and would have a chance to meet him.
Please visit Thilna’s birthday blog and post a birthday greeting to Sir Clarke. Without him, the World would be a much poorer place.
(The picture thumbnail shown is of Sir Clarke with Yuri Artsutanov, the father of the Space Elevator concept. I don’t know who to give credit to this photo to, but I found it here. Click on it for a larger version.)
December 9th, 2007
Yesterday, Dr. David Livingston of The Space Show interviewed Dr. Bradley Edwards and Ms. Carla Sabotta.
From the web summary:
“Dr. Brad Edwards and Carla Sabotta were the guests for this Space Show program focusing on the space elevator. Please be advised that due to extremely wet weather in the Seattle area and the Bay Area, plus the use of cell phones, there is unavoidable phone line noise on this program. We started the program with Dr. Edwards providing us with an update on the climber games that were held in Salt Lake City. Brad explained the various teams, the technology being used, what happened to the contestants, and more. One contestant actually used carbon nanotubes for their climber but as you will hear, they did not do well. Our conversation then took us to the Luxembourg Workshop. As you hear Dr. Edwards update us on this event, you will get a sense of the draw for space elevator on an international level. Later in the program in response to a question about the work other countries are doing on the space elevator, you will hear about Japan and their interest in the elevator. Listeners asked Dr. Edwards and Carla about a central place for “official”-like news about the space elevator as well as reliable PR to keep interested people informed and to reach the general public. Carla spoke about this as did Brad. It is being considered by those involved with developing the space elevator. In the meantime, the website suggested for reliable information was www.spaceelevator.com…”
As expected, this interview was quite interesting. You can listen to it here.
December 5th, 2007
In April of this year, I posted about a couple of tether launches scheduled for later in the year. One was from Tethers Unlimited, home of the esteemed Robert Hoyt (documented here, here, here, here and here.)
The other tether launch I mentioned was the 2nd effort from the Young Engineers Satellite group and was so labeled the YES2 mission. The European Space Agency (ESA) described this mission as follows:
“YES2 was one of the ESA-provided payloads on board the Foton-M3 microgravity mission. The Foton spacecraft and the piggybacking YES2 payload were launched by a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 14 September. The YES2 experiment was installed on top of the battery pack of the Foton-M3 capsule. The 6 kg Fotino capsule was attached to the end of a 0.5 mm thick, 31.7 km long tether. Once the tether unwound and deployment stopped smoothly at 30km, the Fotino capsule was to be automatically released by a pyrotechnic device and sent on a return path to Earth’s surface through the atmosphere and landing safely by parachute in a pre-determined location. The objective was to demonstrate the ‘SpaceMail’ concept of delivering parcels back to Earth from an orbiting spacecraft using only a tether.”
This video on YouTube gives a good explanation / animation of what the mission was supposed to do.
This YouTube video, originally from Russia today, shows the launch and discusses the mission in some detail.
Several videos of this launch and the events leading up to it are posted on the ESA website here.
In September of this year this mission was launched. After the deployment of the YES2 satellite, problems occurred and the mission was reported to have failed. Supposedly only part of the tether had deployed. Several news stories covered this event:
From Kommersant, Russia’s Daily Online (this story contains the answer to the trivia question I posed in the title of this post).
From Wired Science.
From Russia Today.
Recently, however, it was reported that new data indicates that all 31.7km of the tether WAS deployed. The YES2 satellite may have even landed but this is not yet known for sure. It would be way cool if it did…
The blog / updates on the YES2 website are very interesting (not to mention voluminous).
Incidentally, in this Associated Press release, it was reported that the tether was “made of Dyneema, a substance that the European agency said is the world’s strongest fiber and is used by kite surfers.” Looking this up in Wikipedia(sorry Dr. Edwards), one finds that this material is very similar to Spectra, and is made up of extremely long chains of polyethelene held together by Van der Waals bonds (suspiciously similar to the hoped for carbon-nanotube fibers to be produced in the very near future).
(Photo credit: Fabio De Pascale - no larger version available)
December 4th, 2007
Tomorrow, December 4th, 2007 at 7:00pm (Pacific Time), Dr. Brad Edwards will be interviewed on The Space Show by it’s host, Dr. David Livingston.
The program info states that he (and the other guest, Carla Sabotta) will “discuss space elevator climber technology, the Luxembourg Conference Workshop, and the space elevator.”
Dr. Edwards is always a treat to listen to and, as he attended (and presented at) the recent Luxembourg Conference Workshop and I was unable to attend, I have an extra reason to listen to this show.
Please tune in - I’m sure it will be worth your while.
December 3rd, 2007
Since the competition, LaserMotive has put up a number of posts on their blog. These cover everything from who some of their sponsors / suppliers were, to qualifying videos to problems with their brakes, etc. Rather than trying to summarize each one, just go visit their blog, here, for yourself, and see what they’ve been up to. I fully expect these guys to be a major player in the next Spaceward Games.
The coolest video they had on their blog, IMHO, was one showing them testing a portion of their automated tracking system. It would have been wonderful to see this in action; USST had problems with theirs and it may have cost them the prize money. As this is largely software-dependent (and I’m a software guy), its of particular interest to me. And, as their blog entry states, this video “certainly makes an interesting sound”.
December 2nd, 2007
The comparison between building a Space Elevator and the building of the Erie Canal are not new, but the subject has been revisited here, by TCS Daily. This is a fine article and covers all of the relevant points I believe. He reports an interesting quote from Thomas Jefferson about the Erie Canal project: “It is a splendid project, and may be executed a century hence. It is little short of madness to think of it this day.” But just 15 years later (and two years ahead of schedule) the project was completed. Twenty years after that, it was hard to think of commerce traffic in New York State without the Erie Canal and twenty years after the first Space Elevator is successfully completed, it will be hard to think of space travel without thinking of the Space Elevator.
And in this article, the author calls for more public funding to support such a project.
December 1st, 2007