Archive for November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone…

Oh my God, the relatives are in town and the holidays ARE HERE!!!

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but there’s just been no time.  Not much to announce yet either, but that is going to change very soon (with ISEC and, hopefully, the Space Elevator Games too).

I’ll be back posting on Friday Monday.  In the meantime, enjoy the time you spend together with your family over this holiday and don’t eat too much…

And, the following is a special Thanksgiving treat for all you NPR fans…

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(Cartoon from here - click on it for a larger version)

Add comment November 26th, 2008

News & Photos from the Japan Space Elevator conference (JpSEC2008)

On the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) website, they’ve posted photos from the recently held conference.  In this post, I’m showing Akira Tsuchida, one of the conference organizers and head of the E-T-C Climber / Power-Beaming team, giving the presentation for the Spaceward organization.

Akira sent me these brief notes on the conference:

“Over 200 people in the audience and 18 speakers.  Over 100 items for usage of SE including cute illustration.  10 high (and junior high) schools entered the Space Elevator Lego model race.  The Ambassador of Bahrain also joined.

We held the CNT filament seminar on Nov. 14 (Fri) and 20 industries; Sumitomo, Toray, Toyobo, Toyota, etc joined.  They were surprised that Cambridge and MIT’s teams were doing such a great job.”

Click on the picture for a larger version or, better yet, visit the JSEA website to see all of the photos that were taken.

And, I’ve heard from Stephen Steiner, the Space Elevator Blog ‘guest correspondant’ who promises me that he will have an additional report or two from the conference in the very near future.

3 comments November 24th, 2008

Iron Man - The End, and an interview with Bob Layton

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I finally have my copy of the new Marvel release, Iron Man - The End.  It’s been one busy week, so I didn’t have a chance to read it until tonight.

The issue is about 98% Iron Man and 2% Space Elevator, but hey, 2% of a Marvel Iron Man issue is nothing to sneeze at.  I was initially going to do a review of the storyline, but decided against it because a) I am not competent to do so as I really know nothing about the comic book genre and b) I thought it would be more interesting to tease out the 2% Space Elevator bits to see how they stack up against the ‘currently accepted model’.

To begin with, the earthport of the Stark Space Elevator (Tony Stark = aka Iron Man) is based on a tiny island.  This does not fit the currently proposed model, which calls for an an ocean-based, movable platform.  The Edwards-Westling book gives eight reasons why we would want to have a movable base;

  1. Able to move the ribbon out of the path of orbiting objects and also any storms strong enough to be dangerous.
  2. Can be located directly on the equator in the most weather-friendly position possible.
  3. Can be located in international waters.
  4. Can be located near populations or not as selected.
  5. Large-scale, mobile sea platforms are tested technology (Sea Launch).
  6. If the ribbon breaks, much or all of the lower portion will probably fall into the ocean.
  7. No high-altitude operational challenges (snow, thin-air, etc.)
  8. Easier to ship really large, bulky, irregular-shaped items to a Space Elevator via sea than on land.

Some difficulties of a ocean-based earth-port vs. a land-based earth-port are also mentioned in this book;

  1. Vertical movement of the anchor
  2. Movement of the power-beam(s)
  3. Salt
  4. Remoteness

Personally, I’ve never liked the idea of an ocean-going earth-port - the idea has always seemed a bit dodgy to me.  When I first read The Space Elevator, everything proposed made sense EXCEPT for the earth-port.  Having to move the earth-port itself to induce a wave in the tether in order to make it miss a bit of debris (or a satellite) is really inefficient.  Why not have lasers zap the 99.99% of the debris that no one cares about and have thrusters mounted on the ribbon every 1,000 Km or so and let them move the ribbon as necessary for the rare bit (live satellite or whatever) which cannot be zapped?  Just find the thruster that’s closest and use it.  And, with the portion of the tether which is in the atmosphere now probably going to be a cable rather than a ribbon, it will be minimally affected by the wind.

So, my heart is with Stark on this one, though the ‘prevailing wisdom’ says otherwise…

The next item mentioned is the tether itself.  To quote from the relevant frame; “Basically a giant nanotube ‘grown’ from a geostationary Space Station.“  Travel on this tether will be by (again quoting); “…magnetically levitated shuttles (which) will carry passengers and cargo at less than two percent of current costs making the stars accessible to the common man.”  Hmmmm.

Again, the current model says that the baseline tether will be shipped to GEO, assembled, and then simultaneously deployed downwards (towards earth) and upwards (away from earth), this to keep it stable.  If the tether is only ’grown downwards’, as is shown in the comic book, pretty soon (very soon, in fact), gravity will have its say and will pull everything down.  Yes, you can have a counterweight at GEO (with nothing above it) to hold the tether in place, but it would have to be ginormous, far bigger than the space station shown in the comic.  Also, later on in the issue, there is a picture of the tether in the clouds, looking like it’s being ‘grown downwards’, but it’s not a tether at all, but rather a very large structure.  This is reminiscent of the ‘Clarke model’ from his Fountains of Paradise novel.

So, IMHO, I don’t think the tether scenario in the comic would work at all…

The next Space Elevator item was, well, there was no ‘next item’ - that was it.  Like I said, 98% Iron Man, 2% Space Elevator.

If you want to find out if Tony Stark succeeds in building his Space Elevator, you’ll just have to go out and buy the issue :)

When this issue was first announced, I emailed one of the storyline artists, Bob Layton, and asked if he would be willing to answer a few questions for us.  He graciously consented and below, is our short interview with Bob.

[Space Elevator Blog - SEB] Have you been following the evolution in thought regarding the development of a Space Elevator? Do you consider it to be a realistic possibility or just a crazy idea?
[Bob Layton - BL] I believe that it’s a totally realistic concept and I hope that we eventually apply our energies as a society to make this science into a reality.

[SEB]Why did you pick a Space Elevator as Tony Stark’s “Ultimate Project”? Were you at all influenced by author Arthur C. Clarke and his fictional engineer (Vannevar Morgan) building a Space Elevator as his ‘ultimate project’ or was there another inspiration behind this?
[BL]When David Michelinie and I were originally concocting the plot to Iron Man: The End back in 1999, I had just finished reading Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Songs of Distant Earth’.  The scientific theory around the Space Elevator in that story served as an inspiration.

[SEB]If it’s not revealing a plot line you’d rather keep secret for now, does Tony Stark use the ‘Edwards model’ for building a Space Elevator (a carbon nanotube ribbon as the climber cable, anchored in the ocean at the earth-end) or the ‘Clarke model’ (a more solid structure anchored on land) or some other model?
[BL] We use a little bit of the “Edwards Model” and the “Clarke Model” in IRON MAN:The End.

[SEB] Reading your Bio on your website (http://www.boblayton.com <http://www.boblayton.com/>), it’s obvious that, to date, you have had a long and successful career in the comic book industry as well as in film and television. During your career, have you used the concept of a Space Elevator in any other project? If so, could you tell us a little bit about those projects?
[BL] No. But I have a proposed TV series in the works entitled “Jett’s Way” that revolves around the first commercial Space Agency. In the premise, the lead character is trying to get permits to construct the space elevator and encounters political and corporate opposition from every imaginable source.

[SEB] There is support building for a Space Elevator in both Europe and Japan and I think they would be very interested in this issue. Are Marvel Comics available in other languages?
[BL] Yes.

[SEB] Finally, if you had a chance to ride on a real Space Elevator, would you do it?
[BL ] In a HEARTBEAT!! YOU BET!!

Thank you Bob!  And, please keep us updated on the “Jett’s Way” project you mentioned.  It sounds fascinating.

Go out and buy this issue, dear readers.  More than most comic books, I think this could become a ‘Collector’s Item’.

(Cover Text/Graphic and frame from this issue)

Add comment November 22nd, 2008

New Space Elevator book on the way

While browsing through Amazon today, I came upon a new book (not yet released), Space Elevators and Space Tethers.  I am not familiar with the author, Michel Van Pelt, but I have emailed him to see if I can get any additional information I can give to my readers before the expected release date (March, 2009) of this book.

From the book’s Amazon page:

“This detailed account of the possibilities of tethers in space, from very practical applications to (near) science fiction, gives an overview of the past, present and future of space tether development and presents the various concepts, ranging from those feasible in the near future to extremely innovative and challenging ideas. It shows how space tethers have already been used to stabilize spacecraft using tidal forces and to generate artificial gravity using a spinning system with a spacecraft connected to a counterweight via a cable. Tethers can also generate electricity by dragging spacecraft through the Earth’s magnetosphere, as was attempted with partial success during two Space Shuttle missions. Using electrodynamic forces, conductive tethers can also accelerate or brake a spacecraft.

Probably the most exciting tether concept is the space elevator, consisting of an incredibly strong long cable that stretches from the Earth’s surface into space. Solar powered “climber” machines, which are already under development, could use such a cable to haul cargo into orbit. The author also describes how space tethers can change the orbit of satellites, by effectively moving their center of gravity through the deployment of long cables. Tethers rotating at high speed can be used to accelerate or slow down spacecraft that briefly latch to them. In principle, such “momentum exchange” tethers can be used to fly a space probe from low Earth orbit all the way into orbit around Mars, without the need for rocket propulsion. A tether can also provide scientific information on the magnetosphere of the planet it’s orbiting.

Michel van Pelt explains the principle of space tethers: what they are and how they can be used in space. He introduces non-technical space enthusiasts to the various possibilities of space tethers, the technological challenges, the potential benefits and their feasibility. He illustrates how, because of their inherent simplicity, space tethers have the potential to make space travel much cheaper, while ongoing advances in tether material technology may make even seemingly far-fetched ideas a reality in the not too distant future.”

It sounds very interesting and I look forward to hearing from Mr. Van Pelt and to the book’s release.  If I receive any additional pre-release information, I’ll be sure and let you all know.

(Picture of NASA’s TSS-1 tether mission from here - click on it for a larger version)

4 comments November 21st, 2008

YouTube Updates

Two new space elevator-related videos have made their way to YouTube.

The first is excerpts of an interview with the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke.  It’s undated, but in the opening seconds, Sir Clarke states that he wrote the “Fountains of Paradise 20 years ago…”.  That book was written in 1979, so this interview was recorded in 1999 (or thereabouts).  Most of it is about the Space Elevator, but some other subjects (like Cold Fusion) are mentioned.  I enjoyed the interview, but, he does mention something about Mars “…being infested with life…” due to “…Mars Orbiter photographs showing huge areas of vegetation…”.  Really?  A quick Google search discussed that this ‘vegetation’ is really natural formations or the results of carbon dioxide geysers or whatever.  I like Sir Clarke’s explanation better - I just wish it were true.

If anyone knows where I might get a copy of the LP record Sir Clarke shows in the begining of the interview, I’d dearly love to know about it.

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And this other video is a shameless ripoff of existing Space Elevator images and photos from the Space Elevator Games, intermixed with multiple photos of Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin, Russian Flag images, etc., etc., etc. all set to some sort of strange ‘Martial-techno’ music.  It’s all very bizarre…

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I didn’t say it was good, only that it was there :)

Update - 20NOV08 - Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates Power-Beaming / Climber team, found a link to a NY Times interview (in 1999) that may have been the source of the Sir Clarke video shown earlier in this post - thanks Brian!)

1 comment November 20th, 2008

Some updates…

Some updates on stories/posts recently seen on this blog…

First of all, Spaceward wants to give a big shout-out to Mari Kimura for doing all of the English->Japanese translation for the Spaceward website (which I blogged about yesterday).  Thanks Mari - they look great!

A few days ago I blogged about the report from the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Economics saying that the Aussies should consider building a Space Elevator off their NW coast.  This report has been picked up by some more of the Australian press and Philip Ragan (co-author of Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator and someone who I suggested might be able to put in a favorable word about this project to the Australian government) was quoted.  News.com.au weighs in with their opinion here while psfk discusses it here.  And Tribune of the Plebs directly links to my blog post while pointing out that my attempt at using Aussie slang might not have been all that accurate…  Hey, I’m just a poor Seppo - take pity on me please… :)  His suggestion of a joint Japanese/Australian Space Elevator has a lot going for it; two technologically advanced and rich countries, a growing Japanese space program and close access to one of the best sites proposed to site a Space Elevator earthport.   Oy Oy Oy!!!

I also recently blogged about Michael Laine’s report on the time he recently spent at the International Space University.  Michael has now posted the “complete and unabridged” version of the story on the LiftPort blog.  As an aside, it’s just nice to see this blog being used again…

And my local comic book store PROMISED me that tomorrow they would have the Iron Man - The End  issue I had backordered.  I spoke with Michael Laine a few days ago and he had great fun taunting me by saying “how good” the issue was and “how sorry” he was that I was unable to read it yet and, no, he “wasn’t going to tell me” what happened because he didn’t want to spoil it for me, but yes, “it was all about building a Space Elevator”, etc., etc., etc.   Arrrggghhh!  In the meantime, here’s a review of the issue by someone who didn’t exactly find it enthralling…  I’ll have to wait and see, of course, but I think I’ll go with Michael’s take on this one.

And finally, in response to a couple of emails I’ve received, no, I don’t have any further news on the Japan Space Elevator Conference.  I promise I’ll post any updates as soon as I receive them.

(Iron man drawing from here, Samurai Kangaroo picture from here.  Click on either for a larger version.)

1 comment November 19th, 2008

Spaceward supports Japan’s Space Elevator Conference

If you wander over to the Spaceward website, you’ll see that its proud owner, Ben Shelef, has been very, very busy…

Spaceward, for those of you who don’t know, is the organization which partners with NASA to host the Space Elevator Games.  While NASA provides the $4 Million in prize money, Spaceward is the organization that has to do all the work.  They have to find a venue (different and more difficult each year because of the increasingly complexity of the competition), recruit and support the teams, write the rules, actually put on the event, judge the results, publicize what they’re doing, etc., etc., etc….  The amount of publicity this event garners though is huge and worldwide and there can be little doubt that the Spaceward Space Elevator Games are one of the premier events in the Space Elevator world.

Anyway, back to their website.  To help support Japan’s first Space Elevator conference, Spaceward has had much of its web content translated into Japanese, this to help the Japanese public in their understanding of this revolutionary technology.  If you visit their website, note the tiny American and Japanese flags at the top-left and the arrow in between.  Pointing to that graphic and then clicking on the flag that pops up will send you to the ‘other language’ website.  Ben hasn’t had everything translated into Japanese yet, but much of it is.  This should help ’spread the word’ in the land of the rising sun…

A visit to this website is highly recommended, for both English and Japanese speakers.  It is one of the very places on the web where you can trust what you read about the Space Elevator.

 Next week, I’ll highlight some of the other updates Ben has made to the Spaceward website.

(Click on the concept picture of the Space Elevator for a larger version or, better yet, visit the Spaceward website to see all of its content)

1 comment November 18th, 2008

Michael Laine attends “Space Camp for Big Kids”

“LiftPort”, “Michael Laine” and the “Space Elevator” are words and phrases that are often used together.  As the driving force behind LiftPort, Michael poured his heart and soul (not to mention his wallet) into that company’s effort to build a Space Elevator.  Though it did not succeed, no one who is aware of what went on at LiftPort can question his committment or dedication to the cause…

After LiftPort, Michael traveled to Europe and spent many months there, exploring business opportunities and seeing the sights (and posting a ton of photos on Flickr).  He’s back in the US now and, among other projects he’s working on, he has a 15-part series he is writing for the Discovery Channel.

Part 1 is posted now and it’s a fascinating look into what happens at the International Space University (ISU).  I must confess that attending these sessions is on my ‘bucket list’ and I hope I get a chance to do that in the not too distant future.

And knowing Michael, I’m sure we’re going to be hearing much more from him and about him in the near future…

1 comment November 17th, 2008

Japan Space Elevator Conference - day 1

This post courtesy of Stephen Steiner of Team DeltaX:

Carbon Nanotube Filaments Capture Interest of Japanese Industries

Today I participated in the closed-session Carbon Nanotube Filament Seminar intended to promote interest and awareness of carbon nanotubes as a strength material among Japanese industry.  The seminar took place at Nihon University in Tokyo in a large classroom reminiscent of a hall we often take our final exams in at MIT.  The seminar featured simultaneous translation of Japanese to English and vice versa by translators in a soundbooth in the back of the room through pocket multichannel radio receivers.  I was extremely impressed at how fluid and apparently accurate the translations were, which made for seamless conversation between presenters and audience members regardless of communication protocol.

All in all there were about 40 people present at the seminar, with representatives from various companies including Suzuki, Toray (carbon fiber manufacturer), and Toyobo (Zylon manufactuer) to name a few.  I will note that although the commercial nanotube industry is already heavily based in Japan, the companies producing nanotubes here primarily focus on applications for electronics and composites, as opposed to nanotubes for fibers or strength applications.

The first speaker was Mr. Tsuyoshi Hashimoto from Meijo Nanocarbon here in Japan.  Meijo is a producer of single-wall carbon nanotubes produced through the arc-discharge technique.  This technique does not produce long CNTs but instead short, electronics-grade CNTs.  Tsuyoshi presented a number of products his company makes, including highly solubilized CNTs in various solutions, petri dishes lined with SWNTs which supposedly enhance microorganism growth, and a bottle of glassy black strips composed of SWNTs which is apparently the SWNTs as-produced.  Tsuyoshi explained their company’s target markets, which are primarily focused on use of SWNTs as transparent conductive layers for electronics and photovoltaics and SWNTs as fillers for composites with other materials (i.e., plastics and metals).

Our second speaker was Dr. Bryan Laubscher who spoke at a high-level about nanotubes as they pertain to the space elevator.  Bryan highlighted the various technological transitions in society which have coincided with the mastery of stronger materials throughout history–the mastery of stone and the populating of every continent except Antarctica, the mastery of bronze and the establishment of city-states, the mastery of iron and the emergence of empires and seafaring civilization, the mastery of steel and the industrial revolution, the discovery of polymers and the space age, and now what he predicted will be an era of CNTs and the space elevator.  Some conversation followed the presentation pointing out the discovery of CNTs was not in fact by Iijima in 1991, who really was responsible for “rediscovering” carbon nanotubes and showing their scientific and technological potential, but rather by Endo in 1975 and perhaps as early as 1955 by a Soviet researcher and shortly thereafter in the late 1950’s by McCartney in the United States.  Bryan also mentioned that he is leading an effort that hopes to compete in the strong tether competition which we look forward to competing against!

Dr. Marcello Motta from Cambridge University then presented work from Prof. Alan Windle’s group on the production of continuous CNT fibers.  The talk was absolutely excellent.  Marcello has been one of the essential players in the development of the Cambridge yarns and provided some very interesting insight into their system, which is a two-story tall vertical furnace.  Their materials are almost exclusively made of fat double-walled carbon nanotubes which collapse into flattened structures (as opposed to staying rigidly cylindrical), giving them much better surface area for contacting other nanotubes.  Their fibers (fibres) are generally in the range of 2.5 GPa reliably, and over mm-lengths somewhere in the range of 10 GPa–this represents the breaking strength of primary fibers which make up the yarn, whereas the lower number represents the slipping strength of the primary fibers.  Marcello also mentioned that Windle’s spin-off company Q-Flo has recently received funding and as a result some of the scale-up efforts could not be discussed in great detail, however the technology is finally transitioning out of the laboratory.  Marcello also showed a picture of a bicycle wheel-based apparatus with a circumference of 2 m designed for making 2-m continuous yarns and stated he intends on attending the 2008 strong tether competition (being held in Florida from Feb-Mar 2009)!  Although Marcello said their materials are not strong enough to win, they wanted to get the experience of going through the competition so that they can work towards winning!  Very exciting that we will have some CNT competition!

I then realized I forgot all of my nanotube samples back at the hotel (I blame jet lag) and Chie Saito of Earth Track Corporation was kind enough to help me navigate the Japan Rail system to go back and get them.  While we were gone everyone else enjoyed bento boxes and green tea.  Akira Tsuchida, the conference organizer, then gave Ben Shelef’s talk about the Tether Strength Competition Centennial Challenge, which I caught the very end of.  Akira did a very good job of representing the Spaceward Foundation and the audience was intrigued.

After Akira’s talk I gave mine about the status of tether development at Nanocomp and MIT.  The first half of the talk was pretty similar to what I gave by telepresentation at the Seattle conference, basically showing how Nanocomp makes their yarns and felts and showing some of the amazing properties they have, for example, having a higher conductivity-to-weight ratio than copper!  Noting that the production of yarns at Nanocomp is very similar to the production at Cambridge, it was interesting to highlight some of the differences and similarities between the two efforts.  I then went into a more academic discussion of the termination mechanisms in nanotube growth to help highlight some of the reasons why nanotubes stop growing and how we can deal with each of these issues.  I also showed some slides about efforts towards multi-centimeter carbon nanotube forests and continuous forest production at MIT and the University of Michigan from my research group, the Nano-engineered Aerospace Structures Consortium (necst.mit.edu).  I also mentioned that we intend on competing in the 2008 competition as well, although we probably won’t win either.  We will, however, demo our a continuous CNT loop which should exhibit significantly improved tensile strength over the tether we had last year.

As a side note I must say I have enjoyed meeting Marcello immensely.  We both have a persistent, fundamental curiosity for understanding why nanotubes start growing, and why they stop.  Very much an academic, Marcello is an excellent scientist and microscopist, which has given Cambridge a real edge in understanding their materials and how they form.  Marcello also expressed his admiration for Nanocomp as an American company, who “knows how to get stuff done”.

Following my talk, Brad Edwards gave his talk about materials requirements for the space elevator.  Brad pitched nanotubes for strength applications as a highly profitable prospect for Japanese firms.  Brad described some of the efforts which he has associated himself with, for example the “supergrowth” group at the University of Cincinnati which produces 18 mm tall multi-wall carbon nanotube forests.  Brad said that “we” have some new technologies and prospects for  commercialization, but did not mention who “we” is.  Brad also showed a slide titled “Toyota Space Elevator”, explaining how an investment of just $5 billion from a company like Toyota, “just 20%” of their revenue, could fund the space elevator and open up new avenues for profit and Japanese domination in the future.

Lastly we heard from Mr. Yahio Kashiyama from Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation about experimental possibilities aboard the Kibo module of the International Space Station (ISS), including the exposure module which will be launching this year that will allow the ISS to do space-exposure studies for materials.  Yahio explained that the science aboard Kibo is already densely planned for the next 3-4 years.  He also proposed that this would be a great opportunity to study the effects of space radiation and vacuum on the longevity of CNT materials, which will be required to understand if a space elevator will survive in space.After the conference, Akira and two of his colleagues, Bryan and his wife, Brad, Marcello, and myself went to see Tokyo Tower (which is bigger than the Eiffel Tower) and then out to dinner and enjoyed a number of Japanese dishes.  We all then went back to the hotel and crashed.  (Yawn!)

More from the conference to come.

(Photos of Marcello Motta and the Tokyo Tower courtesy Stephen Steiner - click on them for a larger version)

3 comments November 16th, 2008

Stephen Steiner Guest Reporting from Japan

We have Stephen Steiner to thank for the following series of reports from the 1st Japanese Space Elevator Conference.  Since I am unable to attend this conference, Stephen has kindly consented to send us some reports from it.  Thanks Stephen!

Hello space elevator enthusiasts!  This is Stephen Steiner from the strong tether team DeltaX reporting live from the First Japan Space Elevator Conference in Tokyo.  Over the next three days I’ll be blogging from the conference for all of you who were unable to make it.  First I will cover the Japan Space Elevator Association Carbon Nanotube Filament Seminar, which will take place on Friday prior to the conference, followed by coverage of the conference itself, which will take place Saturday and Sunday.  Feel free to send questions along through Ted and I’ll do my best to answer them.

1 comment November 15th, 2008

Introducing the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC)

“ISEC promotes the development, construction and operation of a space elevator as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity”

This is the mission statement of the newly formed International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), an organization created to encourage the growing international interest and momentum towards building a Space Elevator.  Several attendees at the recent Space Elevator Conference in Seattle talked about pooling their efforts to get such an effort underway and, after a false start or two, we’ve now succeeded in forming this Consortium.

We have incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of California and are now working on establishing our Federal 501c3 status (and for those of you who would like to point out how difficult this is, I’d just like to say that IRS Form 1023 and I are old friends :) ).

Several groups have joined together in this effort; The Spaceward Foundation, The Japan Space Elevator Association, EuroSpaceward, The Space Elevator Reference and this Space Elevator Blog.  In addition to these groups, several other individuals (both long-timers in the Space Elevator community and newcomers from the Seattle conference) have joined this Consortium.

Yours truly has been chosen as the President of this organization; an honor which I find very humbling and exciting at the same time.  I have lots of plans to aggressively grow this organization and make no mistake about it; our goal is nothing less than to get a Space Elevator built.

You will be hearing much, much more about this organization in the near future so stay tuned.  In the meantime, I encourage you to head to the ISEC website and sign up for our newsletter so you can stay current with all of our efforts.

1 comment November 15th, 2008

Aussie aussie aussie! Oy oy oy!

G’day mate!  What could be better than cooking some shrimp on the barbie and a Tallie of amber fluid?  Is there a space elevator in Australia’s future or doesn’t this stand Buckleys?

Money quote from the article:

“The Senate Standing Committee on Economics said Australia is missing out on significant innovation and technology opportunities because it lacks a space agency…among other possible projects highlighted by the committee was the building of a space elevator, essentially an extremely strong cable stretching from the surface up into space, off the coast of Western Australia.”

The location mentioned, “off the coast of Western Australia” has been identified as one of the very best locations to put a Space Elevator (near the equator and very unexciting weather all year ’round) and it’s nearly London to a brick, regardless of who builds the first one, it will be located here.  It would make all sorts of sense for the Aussie’s to participate even though the chosen site is Back of Bourke, opposite the Coat Hanger.

One other item in the article of note - Australia was the fourth country to launch their own satellite, a fact I did not know.  Then, of course, I was reminded of Woomera.  Good onya mates!

One other Aussie note; Phil Ragan, co-author Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator, is, I believe, an Australian bloke, so perhaps he can help persuade the Australian government to Captain Cook this idea.

(Concept drawing of an ocean port from the LiftPort Archives, here.  Picture of the Boomer from here.  Click on it for a larger version.  Australian slang from here.)

1 comment November 14th, 2008

The first Japan Space Elevator Conference set to get underway this weekend

This weekend, the Japanese will take their first crack at holding a Space Elevator conference (note that this is NOT the same as them actually building a Space Elevator which was erroneously reported in a myriad of places in the mainstream press).

I had planned on attending this conference, but due to some circumstances which are totally beyond bizarre, I’m going to be forced to miss it.  I’m hoping to have some news reports emailed to me which I will post as soon as I get them.

If you’re going, I envy you and I have every intention of attending the inevitable 2009 Japan Space Elevator Conference.

So, if you’re already in Japan, and aren’t doing anything special this weekend, this would be a great way to spend your time.

1 comment November 13th, 2008

The Space Elevator Blog gets a new masthead…

Yes dear readers, my blog finally has a masthead I’m proud of, and I have Susan Seichrist to thank for this!  Susan has been diligently working on this project, sending me idea after idea after idea on what the masthead could and should look like.  What you see at the top is the fruits of her labors and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Who is Susan Seichrist?  Well, let her tell you who she is in her own words:

I have a BA in Graphic Design from SUNY - Fredonia campus and have worked for a number of advertising and design firms for 25 years. I started my career in typography, which in retrospect was not a good career choice (thank you Apple).  I transferred to graphic design and print production in the advertising world and have worked on pretty much every kind of print project.  But with the web, there isn’t the need for print as much.

What I love about design is getting the chance to learn about whatever field or company I am designing for, learning about things that I would not have on my own.  With the Spaceward Games, for example, I have had the chance to design all kinds of things, from logos to ads to outdoor signage to name badges to T-shirts.

These days I offer office management services to start-ups and small companies, and I do print freelance projects when they come along. My portfolio is available by request.

I’ve always been envious of people who have artistic / design skills (I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler).  When Susan first took on this project, I didn’t know what to expect.  I saw the graphics she had done for Spaceward and was totally blown away by them, but could she work the same magic for me?  She first sent me 8-9 possible masthead designs, all completely different; some modern, some whimsical, some stark, and some complicated.  Some had lots of colors and some had few colors.  All of them looked great and it was with great difficulty that I finally chose one of the themes she sent me as my favorite.  But she wasn’t satisfied with her first attempt at the chosen theme.  Over several iterations, she kept fine-tuning the results until what you see today is the result.  I repeat, I’m thrilled by it – thank you Susan!

Some people may remember Susan from the previous Space Elevator Games.  In addition to doing the graphics work for the Games, she was one of those indispensable, behind-the-scenes people who made it all work.  Attendees may also remember her as the ‘Visited by a dragonfly’ lady.

If you want to contact Susan and enlist her services, you can email her at susan.seichrist@spaceward.org.  She is wonderful to work with.

Oh, and she’s married to Ben Shelef (the head of Spaceward) so I’m sure you’ll see her at the upcoming Games too…

Thanks again Susan - this blog’s masthead now looks ‘professionally done’ because, well, it WAS ‘professionally done’.

1 comment November 11th, 2008

What’s new at the Space Elevator Reference?

If you visit the original Space Elevator site, you’ll see that it’s author, Marc Boucher, has succeeded in the upgrade that he has been working on for some time.  On Marc’s Nano2Sol website, he talks about the tools he has used to accomplish this upgrade and what benefits they can offer:

“For some time now SpaceRef has wanted to create an online collaborative service for the space community. It took some time though to try and find the right platform that would allow us to provide the community with the appropriate tools so they could in turn create rich interactive collaborate services.

I’m happy to say that we’ve now launched our new service called ColabSpace under our brand OnOrbit.

The goal of the service is to provide the tools that will allow users to effectively collaborate on a project increasing  productivity so that any given project moves ahead in a timely manner to conclusion.

For the platform we decided to use Deki, a social enterprise collaborative platform from MindTouch.

We’re already using the service ourselves for the Space Elevator Reference were we’ve launched an Open Wiki and are working towards launching a Developers Wiki.”

If you own/author a ’space-related’ site, you might want to check out the tools that ColabSpace can offer you.

Add comment November 8th, 2008

Mark your calendars!

Astute readers may have noticed the latest entry in the ‘Upcoming events’ section of this blog (right-hand column) - the next Space Elevator Conference to be held in the USA.

Preliminary plans call for the Conference to be held in the same venue as the one earlier this year was; at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond Washington.  Conference dates are scheduled to be Thursday, August 13th through Sunday, August 16th, 2009, with a possible evening show on Wednesday, August 12th.

Be there or be square!

Add comment November 6th, 2008

Iron Man - The End at your comic book stores now (maybe)…

Today is the day that Iron Man - The End was released to the public.  I sauntered over to my local comic book store about 11:00am this morning only to find that they were sold out already!  Hopefully, you’ll still be able to find one in your area.

I ordered a copy and it’s supposed to be in my hands next Wednesday or Thursday - I’ll write more about it then.  I also have an interview with Bob Layton (the storyline author) to publish along with it.

1 comment November 5th, 2008

“Test, test, and test some more”…

On the LaserMotive blog, Tom Nugent opines on how relatively ‘easy’ the Lunar Landing challenge looked and how hard it was in retrospect.  He also comments on how this applies to the Climber / Power-Beaming competition in the Space Elevator Games; something which looks easy but turns out not to be…

‘Tis true, tis true…  Systems of this complexity (and make no doubt about it - these Climber/Power-Beaming systems ARE complex) take lots of engineering and even more debugging to get right.  Integration testing is even more fun :)  You can have sub-system ”A” which works just fine and sub-system “B” which works just fine and sub-system “C” which works just fine too, but when you put them together, well, the interactions between the various components can make things act in a very odd (and undesirable) manner.

Along the way, we’ve had more teams than not drop out because they underestimated the complexity of the task in front of them (and/or they couldn’t get funding - always a big deal, too).  This year alone we had 14 teams sign up, but we’ll be happy if we get 5-6 competitors who actually have something at the Games which has a shot at the prize money (even with all the delays we’ve had in scheduling it).

Read Tom’s post - he’s so young to be so wise :)

2 comments November 3rd, 2008

Coming November 5th…

Back in August, I had put up a post about how Tony Stark (aka The Iron Man) was going to oversee the building of the world’s first commercial Space Elevator.  The release date (according to Bob Layton’s website) for this issue of Iron Man has now been set for November 5th - the day after election day.

From the preview:

“It’s the middle decades of the 21st century. After a lifetime fighting crime, corporate evil and super-powered villainy as Iron Man, industrialist and inventor Tony Stark faces his biggest challenge ever: building the legacy he will leave humankind after he’s gone. But when his world-changing project comes under attack, Tony must fight espionage and super-villainy once more…perhaps for the final time.”

I’ve included two graphics from Layton’s website.  One looks like a Space Station, perhaps at the end of the tether (though I can’t see the tether) while the other looks like an earth-port under-construction.  But I could be wrong on both - we’ll see when the comic book comes out.

Mark your calendars!

(Click on the images for a (slightly) larger version or, better yet, visit Bob’s website to see more graphics from this edition)

1 comment November 1st, 2008


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