Monthly Archives: February 2010

Centennial Challenges gathering…

This past Thursday and Friday saw a meeting at NASA HQ in Washington, DC of all parties involved in the NASA Centennial Challenges.  This is the NASA Press Release:


WASHINGTON — NASA will honor the achievements of the 2009 Centennial Challenges prize winners and competition hosts with a technical symposium Feb. 25 and a recognition ceremony Feb. 26. Centennial Challenges is NASA’s program of technology prizes for the citizen-inventor. Nine prizes totaling $3.65 million were awarded in 2009. Both events will be held at the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW, Washington.

The Centennial Challenges Technical Symposium will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 25. Winners will discuss their accomplishments and future plans and answer questions from the audience. A one-hour panel discussion will be dedicated to each of the challenges, including the new Green Flight Challenge and ongoing Strong Tether and Power Beaming Challenges. The public is invited, and government, industry and media representatives interested in the technologies and incentive prize competitions are encouraged to attend.

The recognition ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 26. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will participate, as will winners of the Regolith Excavation, Lunar Lander, Power Beaming and Astronaut Glove Challenges. Reporters will have an opportunity to talk with the winners during a reception in the NASA Headquarters West Lobby immediately following the one-hour ceremony.

The competitions address a range of technical challenges that support NASA’s missions in aeronautics and space with a goal of encouraging novel solutions from non-traditional sources. The partner organizations that conducted the competitions are: California Space Education and Workforce Institute (Regolith Excavation), X Prize Foundation (Lunar Lander), Spaceward Foundation (Power Beaming and Strong Tether), Volanz Aerospace Inc. (Astronaut Glove) and Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation (Green Flight).  NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program manages the Centennial Challenges.

NASA Television will broadcast the events. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:

For additional information about the Centennial Challenges, visit:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have made their podcasts.

Ben Shelef of the Spaceward Foundation (organizers and hosts of the Space Elevator Games) attended as well as team members from LaserMotive and the Kansas City Space Pirates.

LaserMotive blogged about attending this event (which you can view here). There have been some articles in the press about this – one of them can be found here.

I talked with Ben about the meeting and he said that it was quite good and had exceeded his expectations.  I hope to get a more complete summary of the meeting in the near future from him and/or some the attending team members.

Lego Space Elevator climbers

There are several videos on YouTube of toy Space Elevator climbers made out of Legos – here are a few of them:




I believe that in an earlier post I had mentioned it was now actually possible to purchase a Space Elevator Lego Kit in Japan.  I wanted to see if I could get some information on them (and, perhaps have ISEC purchase a few so we could sponsor our own Lego competition), but I’ve had no luck.  The Lego corporations in various countries don’t seem to talk to each other and certainly aren’t interested in sharing information with anyone.  If someone who reads Japanese can visit the Japanese Lego site and find an email address for me to contact, I would be most grateful.

I think this catches us up on YouTube videos.  Tomorrow onto something else…

More YouTube videos…

And, continuing on my ‘YouTube theme’ from yesterday, here are a couple of more Space Elevator related videos that have been posted lately…

The first has been out a while, but I’ve searched back through my blog and can’t see where I posted it anywhere.  It shows Michio Kaku and Brad Edwards both talking about the Space Elevator – it’s short on details though, almost like this video is a shortened version of a longer one floating around out there somewhere…


And then we have the latest episode of our four intrepid explorers…


Watch all of their episodes here.

More videos tomorrow…

YouTube videos…

Several new Space-elevator related videos have been posted on YouTube lately.

This first one is pretty cool.  Artist Frank Chase talks about the Space Elevator and shows a number of original (I think) concept drawings – some of them are very cool and very elaborate.  I’ll have to see if this guy is interested in doing a poster for ISEC…


Here is a Japanese animation ‘advertising’ (I think) the concept of a Space Elevator.


And finally, yes, we are a pattern-seeking species, but that can certainly be carried too far – witness Exhibit A…


More tomorrow…

Updates from LaserMotive

LaserMotive has posted several updates at their blog recently and I’ve been remiss in not linking to them.

In this first post, LaserMotive welcomes a new resource, someone actually assigned to update their blog (I’m jealous).  Check out the post and welcome to Brian Beckley!

In the second post (Brian’s first), we get more details about the last-night weight loss that the LaserMotive Climber went through to try and win Level 2 of the Power-Beaming / Climber prize – a cool $1.1 Million.  With at least a portion of the Level 1 prize, $900,000, already assured, team LaserMotive could afford to go for (not) broke and trim everything they could off of their climber.  Read all of the details of the “Otis diet” here

Finally,  we begin to see some of the fruits of the $900,000 won in the competition. Tom Nugent and Dave Bashford have now become full-time employees of LaserMotive.  Read all of the details here.

These guys are bright and they are motivated, and now they are funded.  I’m sure we’re going to see some really good results coming from them soon.

Congratulations again to Team LaserMotive!

More from the KC Space Pirates…

I received this email today from Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates:

This is one of those newsletters where I mostly have bad news. It looks like the competition date of May 10th is coming unstuck. We don’t have a new date at all right now which is just as well because once you miss one date then there is a pretty good chance that you will miss another. So a little time to make sure that the new date is firm is good.

The helicopter has a hard time lifting the cable on the hot days of summer in the desert. Perhaps we can use a lighter cable now that we know how all of that works, I will have to look into that.

If not, then we have to pick a different location for the competition or wait till Sept. I don’t have the resources to keep this as a priority in my life for that long and neither do my teammates. That means that our competitors will have an opportunity to gain on us if they spend a lot more time between now and then.

Seems that Lasermotive has used the proceeds from their last win to take two team members full time. I expect a highly professional, polished system from them in the next round. I always knew that once a team won that they would be more difficult to beat the next time around.

The trip to Photonics West went well but did not yield any leads for new sponsors. That means that it will be back to my private supporters to try and raise the money for this next round. That water well is pretty low after 4 years and no wins.

So where is the good news? I have been spending a lot more time with the family and my regular customers are keeping me as busy as ever with my day job. So I can afford to wait even if it is rather annoying. And we have a list of tests to perform to try and tuneup the performance of our current system.

I will update you if things change.

Brian Turner
KC Space Pirates

And that’s where we’re at…

Why the Space Elevator’s Center of Mass is not at GEO

So I’m working on the ISEC Press Kit.  We’re getting ready to announce our Pearson and Artsutanov prizes next week and I’m thinking (hoping) that we’ll get some flurry of activity at the ISEC web site.  We want to have some documents on the website readily available to the Press so that when they report about us, they have a fighting chance to get the basic facts straight.

One of my own misconceptions about the Space Elevator was that center of mass would have to be at Geosynchronous orbit (actually a bit above it as we want to have a net upward force on the ribbon so that attaching an Elevator Car to it would not cause the system to fall down).  However, it appears that we need to have the center of mass of the system above GEO even during deployment because “the increase in gravity for the low mass is greater than the decrease for the high mass“.  When you think about it, that makes perfect sense.

I took this quote from Blaise Gassend’s most excellent summary of this issue which you can find here.

And my thanks to Ben Shelef (CEO of the Spaceward Foundation – organizers of the Space Elevator Games) for pointing out my error and also this website.

Now, if I could just make sense of that pesky Coriolis effect thingy…