Monthly Archives: February 2009

LaserMotive upgrades their motor…

Yes, it’s true, LaserMotive now has a spiffy new motor for their climber.

Check out their blog post for a picture of the motor and some more details…

Note that they are also looking for alternative uses for this motor.  Hmm…  I think they should use it to power a robot that automatically pumps out draft beer…

Here’s one that pours canned beer from (presumably) a mini-fridge inside of it.  I love how it pours the can in three different phases so that it (almost) doesn’t allow the head to overspill.  It would have been even cooler if they would have had a knife go across the top of the glass to knock off the excess head :)  Of course, one would die of thirst waiting for this thing to finish…

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Here’s one that does bottled beer.  It has a unique (and unsanitary) way of ensuring that the head doesn’t spill over the top of the glass.  I love the little ‘swirl’ action at the end to ensure it gets every last drop…

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And here’s a ‘lazy robot’ – you have to hold the glass, but it will ring the bell and want a tip from you…

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And finally, for you Pownce fans (may it rest in peace), the INEBRIATOR!!!

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Draft beer, gentlemen, think DRAFT beer.  If you need help, this is the place to go…

More space debris…

I’m sure that many/most of you have seen by now the stories about how a Russian and an America satellite collided somewhere over Siberia.  Evidently the Russian satellite (Cosmos 2251) was a ‘dead’ one while the American satellite was part of the Iridium network (Iridium satellite #33).

Just what we need, more space debris.

At some point, we, as a species, are going to have to actively go after this space debris.  It has holed the ISS on more than one occasion and presents a growing danger to satellites and astronauts.  It will also present a danger to the Space Elevator.  Right now, the mitigation strategies for a Space Elevator include shaping the Elevator tether into a curved form so that small debris would not sever the ribbon but rather poke a hole or two in it and inducing waves into the tether, timed so that the ribbon would avoid the larger debris.

I don’t like either strategy but freely admit that I don’t have a better idea.  However, as Ivan Bekey (among others) has pointed out, sooner or later, everything in orbit is going to intersect the path of the space elevator so the problem will come to us.

When we do build a space elevator, lets figure out a way to clear up the space junk, too.  It will be a public service…

This post from the Planetary Society shows the orbits of the two satellites and where they collided.  And, on a personal note, I’m bummed that an Iridium satellite was destroyed.  One of my favorite activities is watching ‘Iridium flares’, fleeting bright spots in the sky that occur when the Iridium satellite solar cells briefly reflect sunlight to where you are standing and viewing the sky.  If you haven’t seen one of these, do yourself and favor and go to the Heavens-Above website.  By entering your geographical coordinates, this incredibly cool site will tell you the time and location of all sorts of sky-stuff you can see from your geographical location.  I’ve had great fun with it and, really, seeing an Iridium flare should rank very high on your cool-o-meter.

(Conceptual picture of space debris from here – click on the thumbnail for a larger version)

The Space Elevator Wiki

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) has a new partner; the Space Elevator Wiki

In July of 2008, shortly after the Space Elevator conference in Redmond, former Microsoft programmer Keith Curtis created this Wiki.

This wiki is intended to be a repository of information and a baseline for research of the space elevator.

With the formation of ISEC and a new emphasis on coordinated research into all aspects of developing a Space Elevator, this Wiki promises to be a great tool to move this project forward.  Much/most of the early technical information on this Wiki has been provided by Brad Edwards, but others are now beginning to contribute.  For example, Spaceward‘s CEO Ben Shelef has contributed his Solar Power presentation.  In addition, NASA veteran Dave Lang has been uploading his research into issues surrounding the actual deployment of a Space Elevator Ribbon.  More topics will be added/updated in the near future.

Keith also has his own blog and in its most recent post, guest author Dave Lang (see how nicely this all ties together? :) ) laments about the current state of affairs at NASA and why (in his opinion) things are the way they are there.  His writeup is a more detailed explanation than the one I heard; “The Germans are dead and that’s all she wrote”…

Finally, Keith is also an author and his book “Software Wars” is available for hard-cover or download purchase.  I just downloaded this a few days ago and am now in the process of converting it so I can read it on my Kindle (you don’t have to do that, of course, but I’m quickly getting addicted to my new ebook reader).  Purchase details for Keith’s book are available on his website.