Archive for April, 2009

Designs for a Space Elevator Base Station

In the Department of Architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Professor Michael Fox had his students do a very cool and relevant project, a design of an ocean-based base station for a Space Elevator.  As far as I know, this is the first time that people from the Architecture world have had a go at this.  When the time comes to actually design a real base station, we will need the Architects to work along with the Engineers in order to design this right.  Yes, we could just have a floating platform that looks like an ocean-based oil rig, but why not make it aesthetically pleasing as well?  Plus, architects are going to include amenities and other practicalities that would not be obvious to engineering-type designers.

There are 11 designs in all - each of them really outstanding.  I invite you to visit the main project website and look at the effort each of these teams have put into this project and the level of thought and detail that they have included.  I hope to be writing more about this project in the near future.

The two picture thumbnails in this post are cut from two of the projects.  The topmost one is from the INTERFASE project, created by the team of Ehsaan Mesghali and Owen Liu.  The bottom one is from another project (I’m unsure of the team that created this one, but I’ll find out ?).  Click on either of them for a larger version of the picture.

I urge you to visit the main website and then spend some time browsing the individual designs - there really is lot of fine work here and all of the students are to be commended for their efforts.

3 comments April 28th, 2009

New ISEC Team Member

In March of 2008, I started a project to translate the phrase “Space Elevator” into as many languages as possible.  You can view the current state of this effort by clicking on the “Translation Project” tab at the top of this blog.  I’ve not had time to pursue this lately, and we at the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) decided to a) find someone who would volunteer to take charge of this project and b) move the project from the Space Elevator Blog to the ISEC website.

I am very pleased to announce that Jan Bilek, a long-time Space Elevator enthusiast, has volunteered to take on this task.  Jan will be actively soliciting translations through his contacts and I’m confident that he will be able to move this project forward.  The Space Elevator will benefit all humanity and I think it is only fitting that we who are actively promoting this idea be able to communicate at least the name of the concept in as many languages as possible.

I asked Jan to ’say’ a few words and here is his response:

“Thank you for the opportunity to join the ISEC team, I’m very much looking forward to working together. I hope that our work with other volunteers will help to bring this great idea, and an understanding of it, to a worldwide audience.”

Thanks Jan - we welcome you to the ISEC team and we truly appreciate your willingness to do this.

Those of you who have translations for the phrase Space Elevator can send them to Jan-public [at] isec.info.  Extra credit for translations into Klingon, Vulcan or Romulan… ?

Add comment April 24th, 2009

GPa (g/cc) / N-Tex / MYuris - Specific strength - How strong does a tether need to be?

Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation (host of the Space Elevator Games) responded to a question about how strong a space elevator tether has to be.  With Ben’s help, I wrote a 3-part series about this earlier (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) and Ben has augmented this by discussing the proper units to use in describing the strength of a Space Elevator tether;

How strong does a Space Elevator tether need to be?  Many numbers are bandied about, and usually with a designation of GPa (Giga-Pascals) as their unit of measure.  However, a GPa figure is meaningless without a density figure to go with it.

The metric at question is GPa/(g/cc), or specific strength - strength-per-density.  The textile industry, which often deals with specific strength of materials, uses the unit of N/Tex.  If you work out the units, a N/Tex turns out to be exactly equivalent to a GPa/(g/cc), a Tex…  We propose to give this unit a proper name - in the metric system, we define 1 Yuri = 1 Pa/(kg/m3), and so a GPa/(g/cc) or a N/tex are equal to 1 MYuri (Mega Yuri).

Why is strength (GPa) not a good unit to evaluate the material with?

Think about it this way - if you pull on a garden hose and it breaks at 100 lb, and if the diameter of the hose is such that its area is 2 square inches, can you say that the rubber failed at 50 PSI?  Of course not - the hose is mostly air, only the wall of the hose is holding the force.  you should use the area of the wall, not the hose.

In exactly the same way, if 12 inches of the garden hose weighs a pound, can you say that the density of the rubber is 1/24 [lbs/in3] ?  Of course not - only the wall of the hose has weight.

BUT!!!  You can safely say that the *specific strength* of the rubber is 50/(1/24)=1200 PSI/(lb/in3)  and you don’t have to even measure the diameter of the hose - just divide the breaking force (100) by the linear mass density (1/12), and you get the same exact number (1200).  The cross-sectional area canceled out, and the only two things we need to measure is the breaking *force* (in lbs) and the weigh-per-linear-inch.  Hence N/Tex.

So back to Space Elevators:

Computer simulations of CNTs cap the specific strength of individual tubes at between 40 and 50 MYuri.  Practical measurements seem to converge on that number as well.  The density of Carbon Nanotubes is 2.2 g/cc, so using this density the proper strength figure is 88-110 GPa.  Remember though, it’s the 40-50 MYuri figure that’s the deal maker.

We can build a Space Elevator using a 40 MYuri material.  Even 30.  It’s just that the lower the specific strength, the heavier the ribbon, and the more powerful our motors have to be. (How are motors connected to the tether strength? See the discussion about the Space Elevator Feasibility Condition)  If we go below 30 MYuri, the power system starts to look impossible.

There’s a whole discussion about safety margins that needs to factor in here.  If the CNTs are 45 MYuri, and the cable is 40 MYuri, how much can we really load it at?  30 MYuri?  this means we have a safety margin of 10/30, or  33%.  Since the loading of the Space Elevator structure is incredibly predictable (more so than most any other structure ever built) we think this margin is sufficient, but this is a topic for another post.

The document that Ben refers to, the Space Elevator Feasibility Condition, should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand how viable a Space Elevator is.

Thanks Ben…

6 comments April 22nd, 2009

Updates from the National Space Society (NSS) Space Elevator Team

I received this update from Bert Murray, team captain of the NSS Space Elevator Team;

Hi Ted,

This week the NSS Space Elevator Team finish up our laser absorber tests. The the heat from the absorber will be used to heat helium that in turns drives a Stirling Engine. Attach is a photo of a sample absorber heated with the laser. BTW our Test chamber is a modified army surplus ammunition case.

Cheers,
Bert

So, they are using a Stirling Engine to power their Climber.  The last team that tried that was in 2006, I think, the Fischer28 team.  Let’s hope that NSS fares better…

(Click on the thumbnail of the Absorber for a larger version of the picture)

4 comments April 21st, 2009

“5 questions - cabling to Space”

Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates, sent me this link to a recent article about his appearance in front of an eighth-grade science class.  It’s clear that Brian is recruiting the next generation of engineers so that his team can enjoy continued Games dominance in the American midwest… ?

Brian sent me this explanation of his visit: “Bonner Springs is a suburb of Kansas City with a population of about 7,000. A Middle School teacher asked me to come speak to the kids. He also asked the local paper to come and see what was going on.”

Certainly his sponsors have to be very happy with the picture accompanying the story.

(Click on the picture thumbnail of Brian to see a larger version of the picture or else visit the story)

Add comment April 16th, 2009

David Williams has a new book…

In June of last year, I blogged about a new book, The Mirrored Heavens, by newcomer David Williams.  I’ve only recently been able to begin reading the book and, while I’m not finished with it yet, I can safely say that the first section of the book is non-stop, pulse-pounding action.  Truly, it gets your motor running…

I bring this up now because David has a new book in his future histories series coming out, The Burning Skies.  From the book’s description:

“In his electrifying debut, The Mirrored Heavens, David J. Williams created a dark futuristic world grounded in the military rivalries, terror tactics, and political wrangling of our own time. Now he takes his masterful blend of military SF, espionage thriller, and dystopian cyberpunk one step further—to the edge of annihilation . . . .

Life as U.S. counterintelligence agent Claire Haskell once knew it is in tatters—her mission betrayed, her lover dead, and her memories of the past suspect. Worse, the defeat of the mysterious insurgent group known as Autumn Rain was not as complete as many believed. It is quickly becoming clear that the group’s ultimate goal is not simply to destroy the tenuous global alliances of the 22nd century—but to rule all of humanity. And they’re starting with the violent destruction of the Net and the assassination of the U.S. president. Now it’s up to Claire, with her ability to jack her brain into the systems of the enemy, to win this impossible war.

Battling ferociously across the Earth-Moon system, and navigating a complex world filled with both steadfast loyalists and ruthless traitors, Claire must be ready for the Rain’s next move. But the true enemy may already be one step ahead of her.”

A visit to David’s website is well worth your while.  The art is first rate and the trailer of the Mirrored Heavens ranks very high on my cool-o-meter.  In his first book, the mysterious enemy Autumn Rain successfully took out the Phoenix Space Elevator.  In his new book, Autumn Rain’s new target is the Europa Platform.

Buy both the books - I don’t think you’ll be sorry.  And, as soon as I’ve finished the first one, I’ll post a review of it.

(Hat tip to io9 - a very cool website in its own right - click on either bookcover thumbnail for a larger version)

Add comment April 14th, 2009

Space Elevator Miscellany…

Here are a few Space Elevator related items which have showed up in the Search Engines over the past several days…

Google, a company which has been rumored to be interested in building a Space Elevator, has formed a new venture entitled Google Ventures.  When asked by Erick Schonfeld about their interest in Space Elevators, Bill Maris (one of the fund managers) had this to say;

“Show me one that works,” retorts Maris, “and I will invest in it.”

That will be difficult, of course, until someone actually builds one.  Over at Darnell Clayton’s most excellent Colony Worlds website, Darnell had this to say;

“Perhaps the newly founded International Space Elevator Consortium could help convince Google that a space elevator is something worth investing in, as gaining the support from a public company could go a long ways towards convincing the masses that this long term project is indeed viable.”

Good idea, Darnell.  We’ll follow up…

=================================

I found this article by James Pinkerton of the New America Foundation.  In it he talks about how investing in Space exploration would be an excellent economic driver for the US.  He also discusses the China-India Space race (an issue that I’ve opined on before as a possible impetus to get India to partner up with Dubai and build a Space Elevator) and additionally talks about building a Space Elevator ourselves.  To wit;

And so, for example, if America were to succeed in building a –in its essence a 22,000-mile cable, operating like a pulley, dangling down from a stationary satellite, a concept first put forth in the late 19th century–that would be a major driver for economic growth. Japan has plans for just such a space elevator; aren’t we getting a little tired of losing high-tech economic competitions to the Japanese?

We’ll, it’s a 60,000 mile long cable, but I like the sentiment…

=================================

Finally if you’re a fan of Halo 3, they’ve released the “Mythic Map Pack“, a new set of battlegrounds.  The “Orbital” map is contained within a Space Elevator.  From the Halopedia website;

Orbital takes place inside the docking-station for Quito Space Tether, a Space Elevator that transports cargo and people in and out of the Earths atmosphere easily…

The map is located on an “empty UNSC space platform”[3], more specifically, the station atop the Quito Space Tether. The map contains plaques dedicated to Doctors Tobias Fleming Shaw and Wallace Fujikawa, the creators of the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, the map also contains a lot of aesthetical elements such as windows showing the Earth, electronic devices like display screens, escalators, and even a video phone. Overall the map has a feel of advanced technology.

There are several videos of Orbital on YouTube - I thought this one was the best;

Add comment April 13th, 2009

A day to celebrate and remember…

On this date last year, I wrote the following:

On this date, April 12th, in 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yury Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human to travel in space. Yuri’s Night celebrations are hosted around the world on this date each year to celebrate this event. Congratulations Comrade!

Another anniversary of note on this date was the maiden flight (in 1981) of the first Space Shuttle, Columbia.

And finally, this date (in 2018) was the initial hoped-for ’start of service’ date for the LiftPort Space Elevator. Alas…

(Picture credits: Yuri Gagarin via Tass/Sovfoto. Columbia via NASA. Click on the thumbnails for slightly larger versions)

Reader Dan Spencer added the following comment:

In January, more than forty five years after the Evil Empire made Yuri Gagarin a hero of the Soviet Union, Pravda reported that Gagarin was not the first man in space, he was just the first man to survive a flight into space:

Gagarin was not the first man to fly to space. Three Soviet pilots died in attempts to conquer space before Gagarin’s famous space flight, Mikhail Rudenko, senior engineer-experimenter with Experimental Design Office 456 (located in Khimki, in the Moscow region) said on Thursday. According to Rudenko, spacecraft with pilots Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov at the controls were launched from the Kapustin Yar cosmodrome (in the Astrakhan region) in 1957, 1958 and 1959. “All three pilots died during the flights, and their names were never officially published,” Rudenko said.

If this is true, and it has to be because it is from Pravda, it should in no way diminish the significance of the Gargarin’s successful flight. If Gagarin knew of the deadly attempts by Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov, we should be even more impressed with Gagarin’s courage.

As noted earlier, tonight is Yuri’s Night - if you know of a party/celebration being held in your area, go and join and spend some time with your fellow space geeks…

Add comment April 12th, 2009

Reminder - 400 Years of the Telescope airs tonight

As I wrote about last weekend, a very cool sounding documentary, 400 Years of the Telescope, is set to air tonight.  Here in the midwest, it’s set for 9:00PM, local time.  Check your local listings…

One note for you Tivo/DVR fans, this NOT a NOVA show.  If you have a season-pass to NOVA, it will not record this show - you need to set it up separately.

Watch and enjoy…

Add comment April 10th, 2009

Why you should join ISEC - Part 3

In the continuation of the series “Why you should join ISEC” (Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here), I present to you what David Letterman might say if he was asked “Why should someone join ISEC?”:

.

David Letterman’s* Top Five Reasons to join ISEC

#5]  You want to know where your mother’s yarn has gone.
#4]  Bragging rights – be the first on your block to be a card carrying member
#3]  Great Pick-up lines at Cocktail Party
#2]  Develops your unassailable credibility as a rocket scientist
and
#1]  Self Satisfaction at furthering space exploration – Actually you ARE!

(*With thanks to Peter Swan and apologies to Mr. Letterman…)

Add comment April 10th, 2009

100 Countries and counting…

I thought this was cool… Near the end of March, I put a FlagCounter on this blog to see which countries the traffic was coming from. In just two weeks, we are up to 100 countries… 
A visitor from Togo has the honor of clicking this counter to the century mark. Maybe we should give him/her/them a free membership in ISEC… ? 

Add comment April 9th, 2009

More Space Elevator music

This is starting to become very cool - more and more people / groups are releasing music about the Space Elevator.  With the recent find of the song by Apraxis, that makes at least 4 Space Elevator songs I’ve found so far.  Maybe I’ll put up a poll at some point and let people vote for their favorite - we can ask Simon Cowell to host a “Space Elevator Idol” show…

From the website:

Click the play button above to listen. This is now at version 1.0 and its not fully mastered.. etc. 

It’s not totally done but we don’t like to keep the fans waiting!  Stuart T joins me on this track as well and it’s a joy working with him. For more info on the concept keep reading.

There is a Play Button, of course, for the music, and also a description of the Space Elevator concept in ‘500 words or less’.  They also link to the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC - come join us!), so they’re keeping the website up-to-date.

2 comments April 9th, 2009

Why you should join ISEC - Part 2

On Monday of this week, I gave you my take on why you should join ISEC, the International Space Elevator Consortium.  Today, I present Ben Shelef’s reasoning as to why he thinks that you should join ISEC.

Ben is the CEO of the Spaceward Foundation, the host of the Space Elevator Games.  Ben has done just a great job with this; sheparding the games from a starting point of climbers trying to ascend a 50 meter tether, powered by searchlights provided by Spaceward, to what he is planning to do today; having laser-powered climbers ascend/descend a cable a full kilometer into the sky.  The increase in skill level demonstrated by the teams is nothing short of amazing.  And, lest we forget, there are TWO Space Elevator Games, the other being the Strong Tether Competition.  Though overshadowed by the more showy Climber / Power-Beaming competition, the Strong Tether competition is arguably even more important.  After all, if the tether isn’t strong enough, there won’t be a Space Elevator.

Anyway, here is Ben’s take on why YOU should join the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC):

Consider these points:

• ISEC is the only organization fully dedicated to building a Space Elevator.
• The Space Elevator is the only approach we know of to creating a space-faring, interplanetary civilization.
• Creating a space-faring, interplanetary civilization is the only way to guarantee mankind’s continued prosperity through the 21st century and prevent us from going through another cycle of cultural collapse and loss of knowledge.

Bold claims, to be sure, but true nonetheless. Let’s go over them, starting with the boldest one.  The renowned physicist Stephen Hawkings recently asked: “How can the human race survive the next hundred years?”  The human race faces many challenges, some old, and some new – between wars, natural disasters, climate change, and just plain stagnation, there is no lack of credible threats to our society. What is new and unprecedented is that our immune system is shot.

Throughout our history, mankind was composed of many separate civilizations, interconnected through relatively limited trade routes. Interaction between the civilizations was mostly through commerce, and sometimes through war. This was a good thing, since it allowed different cultures to participate in a Darwinian process – bits and pieces were exchanged, sometimes cultures were merged, and most importantly, the failure of any single civilization through any of the reasons mentioned above did not bring about the end of mankind.

This mechanism has ceased to function now, since our civilization has become a single tightly interconnected culture. We can communicate between any two points on the globe in mere fractions of a second, and we can hurl our bombs at each other across the oceans in less than 30 minutes. Our industry is at the point where it has the potency to affect the environment of the whole planet, not just of the local pond, and our manufacturing and financial systems are completely interdependent.

This adds up to the old adage of having all of our eggs in one basket.  When our current civilization, just like many before it, succumbs to any of the challenges mentioned above, there will be no other civilization to prop it up. We have no backups.  The only way to solve this problem is to expand our habitat into the solar system. Mars is a comparatively easy first step, but even Mars habitation will take decades to become self sufficient, and so we need to start as soon as possible.

Enter the Space Elevator. While it is conceivable that Mars habitation can be undertaken using rocket systems alone, it will be a very slow process. The Space Elevator will allow us to transfer huge amounts of mass to Mars, enabling the creation of a self-sustaining infrastructure almost instantaneously.

With an independent Mars civilization in place, we will have our first insurance policy, and having an insurance policy will have a stabilizing effect on Earth.  With Mars in place, we can turn our attention to the vast resources of the asteroids, and form a true spacefaring civilizations.

Enter ISEC. The Space Elevator is not a short-term project, which makes it a very difficult endeavor to pursue. Neil Armstrong once said “We predict too much for the next year and yet far too little for the next 10”.

ISEC is not distracted by “low hanging fruit” that can be achieved soon.  We’re looking to create the kind of space-transportation infrastructure that will get us to space 1000 tons at a time. We think this is the most important pursuit mankind has to engage in – we do not have many generations left to keep idle.

Thank you Ben.  And I say again to all of my readers, if you want a Space Elevator to happen, you should join ISEC.  We are the ones who are pushing the relevant technologies forward, but we need your help to do it.  Please join us and participate in what promises to be one of the defining projects of this century.

Add comment April 8th, 2009

San Diego Science Festival features working model of Space Elevator

Reader Chris Radcliff has sent me links to photos of a Space Elevator model which is being displayed at the San Diego Science Festival.  It looks like a lot of work has been put into this and I congratulate the builders on their effort.

Chris has this to say:

Here are a few early iPhone photos of the space elevator model at the Expo:

 
   
     
     

It was an incredibly busy day, with over 60,000 people estimated at the park. We had continuous crowds around the space elevator model, and Adrian talked about it continuously from 10:00am to 6:00pm. It was quite a hit!

I’ll send more photos (and a better write-up) when I’ve had some time to collect them up.

Cheers,
~chris

Thanks Chris!  And, on a personal note, having just shoveled out my driveway (again), the weather sure looks nice there!

(Click on any of the picture thumbnails to see the full-size version that Chris has hosted on Flickr)

2 comments April 7th, 2009

Reminder - next Space Elevator chat coming Tuesday, April 7th

The fourth in the series of the Space Elevator Spring Chats, hosted by Marc Boucher at the Space Elevator Reference site, will be Tuesday, April 7th at 2:30pm - Eastern Time. This week I am honored to be Marc’s guest.

The topic: The International Space Elevator Consortium & other news.

You’ll have a chance to read my answers to Marc’s questions and you will have an opportunity to ask me questions yourself.  Find out what it’s like to be the Space Elevator Blogger! ?

I look forward to seeing all of you on Marc’s chat!

Add comment April 7th, 2009

ISEC needs you!

This is a Press Release which was sent out this morning:

International Space Elevator Consortium Announces New Membership Drive

Program Aimed at Unifying Space Elevator Community Worldwide, Help Fund Research

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (April 6, 2009) - The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), a new group designed to globally promote outreach and foster research relating to the construction of an Elevator to Space, today announced details of its membership program.

Proceeds from membership will be used to further the development of an Elevator to Space, such as funding of research and engaging the public at large. According to ISEC, membership is designed to help provide funding for research necessary to build an Elevator to Space, connect people around the world interested in the project, keep them up to date on its progress and provide the public with ways they can help get involved in the program.

We are looking to make ISEC the single premier authoritative source on the effort worldwide and a way to encourage people at all levels - teachers, students, hobbyists and enthusiasts as well as scientists and researchers – in participating in its development,” said Ted Semon, president of ISEC. “This makes us unique among all Space Elevator organizations.”

Several levels of membership are being offered, including standard, student and premium. Membership includes incentives, discounts and member-only activities at ISEC events such as the Space Elevator Conference and Space Elevator games. All members will receive a complimentary subscription to the ISEC E-Journal, the authoritative voice on Space Elevator activities worldwide.

In addition, we’re providing unique incentives at each level of membership, with collector’s items at the premium levels,” said Semon. “These include an author-autographed collector’s edition of the “The New Explorers” CD, as well as presentation copies of the original papers about the Space Elevator signed by their authors, Jerome Pearson and Yuri Artsutanov, the “Fathers of the Space Elevator Program.”

Headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area, the center of the aerospace industry, the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is a non-profit organization devoted to the research and construction of an Elevator to Space. For more information please visit www.isec.info.

For more information please contact:

Ted Semon
ISEC
1-630-240-4797
ted-public@isec.info

Belinda Young
BYPR
1-206-932-3145
byoung@bypr.com

============================================

So, why should you join ISEC?  Why should you become a member and give us some of your hard-earned money, especially in these economic times?  What’s in it for you?  These are all good questions, but I’d like to answer them by asking you some questions; Do you think that humanity should expand beyond earth?  Do you think that humanity should have a transportation system to space which is safe and reliable and scalable?  Do you agree with Robert Heinlein when he wrote; “The earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in.”  Are you a supporter of the idea of Space-based Solar Power Satellites?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these questions, you should support the concept of a Space Elevator!  A Space Elevator is THE transportation system which can make our race a truly spacefaring one.

ISEC was formed to make a Space Elevator happen.  The money you give us by joining ISEC will be used to fund research into technologies necessary to build a Space Elevator and to ’spread the word’.  For example, one of the first projects we want to tackle is research into how a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether will actually perform outside the earth’s atmosphere and protective magnetic field.  Atomic oxygen, radiation, space debris and just normal wear-and-tear from Climber traffic will all be hazards the ribbon has to endure.  We’d like to partner with a university or lab and set up earth-based experiments to get some preliminary answers.  At some point, however, we’ll need to actually test a CNT tether in space and that may mean a CubeSat mission.  All of this will take money and focus.  We can provide the focus but we need YOU to provide the money.  Without your support, efforts to build a Space Elevator will continue to be disjointed, unfocused and uncoordinated.

Those of us who have come together to create ISEC (and you can find out who we are by checking out the Team and Partner pages on our website) passionately believe that building a Space Elevator should be considered a high priority by everyone who has an interest in the future of our species.  Please join us by becoming a member of ISEC and participating in what promises to be one of the defining projects of this century.

2 comments April 6th, 2009

Updates at the Space Elevator Wiki

Two months ago, I introduced my readers to the Space Elevator Wiki, a project put together and run by Keith Curtis.  From the Mission Statement; “This wiki is intended to be a repository of information and a baseline for research of the space elevator. The general purpose is to provide a structure for collaborative work on the space elevator.”

In the last few weeks, Markus Landgraf has posted a review of current / relevant Carbon Nanotube (CNT) literature.  This is a long-overdue task and I’m very glad to see that Markus has taken the time and effort to put this data together.  There are some very cool articles in his review including;

In situ Observations of Catalyst Dynamics during Surface-Bound Carbon Nanotube Nucleation” where you can see pictures of carbon nanotubes actually being created and

Strong and Ductile Colossal Carbon Tubes withWalls of Rectangular Macropores” where Markus describes a material (Colossal Carbon Tubes) which might, today, be strong enough to build a space elevator with. (I’m from Chicagoland - it’s OK for me to end my sentences with a preposition ?).

The Space Elevator Wiki is becoming THE repository for Space Elevator documents and research.  Do yourself a favor and check it out and, if you have anything to contribute, do so…

8 comments April 4th, 2009

400 Years of the Telescope

While this isn’t exactly a Space-Elevator related post, it ranks pretty high on my cool-o-meter and I thought I would pass it along to my readers…

One week from today, on April 10th, your local PBS outlet should be showing a documentary entitled “400 Years of the Telescope“.  From the Press Release:

400 YEARS OF THE TELESCOPE, a beautiful new film airing on PBS April 10 (local airdates may vary), is the first PBS documentary to be filmed on 35mm RED technology. Recorded at 4520 X 2540 pixels per frame, the output is RAW format, over five times the resolution of HD. This visually stunning 60 minute film takes viewers on a breathtaking journey back to Galileo’s momentous discoveries, through the leaps of knowledge since then, and into the future of colossal telescopes both here on earth, and floating in the cosmos. The cinematography is extraordinary, as we travel across five continents and through space to view the world’s leading observatories and the majestic visions of space they capture. Leading astrophysicists describe, with warmth and humor, their startling breakthroughs and near failures. With narration by Neil deGrasse Tyson and a musical score by the London Symphony Orchestra, the film makes accessible the exciting future ahead of us.

The show is tied to the International Year of Astronomy 2009, with events worldwide celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first look at the heavens. The airdate specifically coincides with 100 Hours of Astronomy in early April. Astronomy clubs, planetariums and observatories around the world will be hosting star gazing events, with the hope that everyone will take a moment to look up and see what Galileo saw.

If you visit the website, you’ll see a very neat trailer of the show.  This sounds way-cool and I will certainly have my DVR programmed to record this.  As they say, check your local listings…

2 comments April 3rd, 2009

Space Elevator Blog celebrates its 3 Year Anniversary

Once again, all together now;

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Space Elevator Blog!
Happy birthday to you!

Yes, I know it’s April Fools day, but again this is no joke - three years ago today, I started this blog. It’s been yet another exciting year. In keeping with my tradition of writing an ‘anniversary post’ (first year summary and second year summary), the following is a list of, IMHO, the more significant happenings in the past 12 months that I was privileged to cover:

The highlights for this past year include:

The creation of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC).  This is the culmination of efforts by most of the ‘leading luminaries’ in the Space Elevator community to create an organization dedicated to actually getting a Space Elevator built.  All of the existing Space Elevator organizations that I know about are part of this effort; the Spaceward Foundation, EuroSpaceward, the Japan Space Elevator Association, the Space Elevator Reference, the Space Elevator Wiki and my own Space Elevator Blog.  In addition, other individuals who have had a long history within the Space Elevator effort have also joined in this effort.   I am very honored to be the President of this organization and pledge to do whatever I can to make a Space Elevator happen within my lifetime.

Attending and blogging on the Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, Washington.  The Space Engineering and Science Institute did an outstanding job in organizing this conference.  The arrangements, facilities and speakers were first-rate.  I truly enjoyed all of the presentations I heard and also presented my own paper on who, IMHO, might be the first entity to actually create a Space Elevator.

Watching the traffic at this site continue to grow.  This post is number 1,172 for this blog so I’m averaging nearly 400 posts per year.  In it’s first year, the Space Elevator blog had approximately 28,000 hits.  In it’s second year, this blog had about 68,000 hits.  In this third year, we’ve had nearly 80,000 hits.  While the growth rate looks like it has slowed, this is actually not the case - the average daily traffic has increased significantly.  In the blog’s first and second years, traffic spiked during my coverage of the Space Elevator Games.  I put up many posts during the Games and nearly 40% of the website hits in year 1 and year 2 were generated during that 10-12 day period.  Even though there were no Space Elevator Games in this past 12 months, traffic at this site still increased over 15%.  I fully expect our traffic numbers to double in the coming year with a) coverage of the Space Elevator games and b) coverage of the activity by the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC).

Watching the preparations for the next Space Elevator Games.  Even though the Games were not held at the hoped for time, it still has been an absolutely fascinating experience watching Spaceward and the competition teams get ready for the next Games.  I don’t think the scope of the next Games has been really appreciated by most people.  To win this competition, teams will now have to use a laser to power a climber that will ascend/descend a 1 kilometer-long tether.  This is freaking awesome!  Spaceward, the organization that hosts these games, now has to deal with entities like the Laser Clearing House to ensure that there are no satellites passing overhead which might be temporarily ‘blinded’ by a competitors laser beam.  A full two million US Dollars is on the line, available to a team that can do this climb at an average of 5 meters/second.  It really is magnificent and I can’t wait for it to happen.

The release of a paper by Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation entitled “The Space Elevator Feasability Condition“.  This paper represents, IMHO, the first serious review of what it will take to build a Space Elevator since the Edwards-Westling Space Elevator book.  In his paper, Ben argues that a tether as weak as 25-30 MYuris may be strong enough to build a useful Space Elevator tether.  He discusses the various parameters which make up his calculations and shows how they relate to each other.  Reading and understanding this document should be a requirement for anyone who is interested in Space Elevators.

And finally, getting a professional-looking masthead for this blog.  I want to thank Susan Seichrist once again for doing an outstanding job with this.

Other highlights occuring the past year the announcement of the first Japan Space Elevator Games, attending ISDC2008 and seeing Ben Shelef’s absolutely awesome model of a hypothetical Space Elevator Games held at Meteor Crater in Arizona, the captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates, Brian Turner, appearing on the Conan O’Brien show, the release of the Iron Man comic book where the chief protagonist, Tony Stark, successfully manages the construction of a Space Elevator, Dr. Who and his cohorts using a Space Elevator to help thwart the bad guys, acknowledging NASA’s 50th Anniversary, the release of Ropewalk, installing DSL for my Mother, and beer-pouring robots.

Downers for the year include my inability to attend either the EuroSpaceward conference or the Japan Space Elevator Association conference due to reasons which are beyond bizarre and the disappointment of Arthur C. Clarke’s last book, The Last Theorem (released posthumously).

So, what’s coming up this year?  Well, first and foremost should be the Space Elevator Games.  As you are reading this, I should be returning home from a trip to an ‘undisclosed location’ with Ben Shelef of the Spaceward Foundation (hosts of the Space Elevator Games), trying to finalize arrangements for the Games.  Let’s hope we were successful.  Also upcoming is the next Space Elevator Conference, scheduled for August 13-16 of this year.  The inaugural Japan Space Elevator Games are scheduled for early August and I would expect either/both the Europeans and Japanese to have another Space Elevator Conference this year (which I really do want to attend?).

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) should become a serious force for pushing the idea of someone (anyone) building a Space Elevator.  We have a lot riding on this organization and I encourage you to visit our website and JOIN us in helping make this game-changing idea a reality.

Stay tuned and, thanks again for reading!

6 comments April 1st, 2009

Alien Space Elevator discovered!

Astronomers from the California Institute of Science have announced today the direct observation of a Space Elevator erected by an alien civilization outside our solar system, located around the second planet in the star system Epsilon Eridani.

Just like the great wall of China, which is the most space-visible human-made artifact on Earth, a Space Elevator is easily detected as a 100,000 km searchlight blinking on and off around the alien planet. NASA’s recently launched Kepler Space Telescope is especially designed to detect such beacons, and the detection circuits located the Eridani Space Elevator as soon as the telescope was switched on. 

When asked about the significance of the discovery, ISEC’s president Ted Semon remarked that it is only logical that an alien advanced race would build a Space Elevator as they become a space faring civilization.  “It is what I would do” he added.  “This is also another example of science fiction predicting science fact.  As is well known, the TV series Star Trek placed the planet Vulcan in the Epsilon Eridani system and now we find that there is actually an advanced civilization there.”

Scientists caution, however, that no more than 12 adults or 2000 lb (which ever is less) should be loaded onto the elevator at any given time, and that you should be careful of the closing doors.  Also, if you have small children with you, you should prevent them from pushing all of the buttons as this could extend the trip by several days.

1 comment April 1st, 2009


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