Monthly Archives: June 2010

June is Space Elevator month

I’ve written about the NASA MICI (NASA Minority Innovation Challenges Institute) before (here), telling you all about a video which had been posted on this website.  This video showed portions of the competition in several of the recent NASA Centennial Challenges.

That’s all well and cool, but Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation (organizers of the Space Elevator Games) has just let me know that, at the NASA MICI channel, “June is Space Elevator Month“.  Two presentations relating to the Space Elevator Games have already been posted and two more are on the way.  And, if you login to the site while a presentation is underway, you’ll be able to interact (via Chat) with the presenter, asking questions in real-time.

The presentations that have already been posted are:

  • The Space Elevator (Ben Shelef)
  • Robotics and the Space Elevator (Dr. Antonio J Soares)

Upcoming presentations are:

  • Photovoltaic cells and the Space Elevator (Dr. Antonio J Soares) – June 21st, 3:00pm US Eastern time
  • Lasers and the Space Elevator (Dr. Antonio J Soares) – June 28th, 3:00pm US Eastern time

The ‘catch’ to all this is that to register to view these presentations, you must be a professor that is “…currently employed at a university or college located in the United States” or a student that is “…(a) a US Citizen currently enrolled at a university or college or (b) a non-US Citizen who is currently enrolled at a university or college located in the United States. ”  If you don’t fall into either of these categories, you can apply for login permission (you’ll see how to do this on their website).

This site and it’s videos are there to encourage participation by US students and faculties in the NASA Centennial Challenges program.   If you qualify (i.e. are a faculty member of student meeting the MICI requirements), then I would highly encourage you to sign up for this.  We are always looking for more competitors in the Space Elevator Games and the majority of teams that have registered have been university-based.  The more the merrier!

LaserMotive gets some new sponsors…

Just a case of the rich getting richer…  Team LaserMotive, winners of a cool $900K in last year’s Climber / Power-Beaming portion of the Space Elevator Games, has acquired some new sponsors in its attempts to collect the remaining $1.1M in the NASA-provided prize pool.

This is detailed on their latest blog posting on their website.  Money quote:

“We’re pleased to announce these industry partners as sponsors of Team LaserMotive as we prepare to enter the next round of the Power Beaming Competition in 2010,” said Tom Nugent, president and co-founder of LaserMotive. “Laser power beaming — the wireless transfer of energy from one location to another using laser light — offers tremendous potential to businesses in a wide variety of industries, ranging from alternative energy to unmanned aerial vehicles. Not only do we believe that the sponsorships will enhance the development of our entry for this year’s Competition, but the technology developed can be used to further practical applications for laser power beaming, both near and long term.”

This is just going to make them an even more fearsome competitor in the upcoming competition.  Congratulations again to LaserMotive!

An (old) interview with Clayton Ruszkowski

Anyone who is familiar with the Climber / Power-Beaming team from the University of Saskatchewan, the USST team, knows or knows about Clayton Ruszkowski.  Clayton was the team captain for the first several years of their competing and, in the latest competition held in 2009, Clayton was there as an elder statesman…

Many moons ago (Dec 28, 2007), Stan Taylor of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario did an interview with Clayton and recently, he kindly emailed it to me.  You can read the interview here (it’s in pdf format).  It’s very interesting and we learn all sorts of interesting facts about Clayton.  For instance, he is a Canadian and, when he was younger, he played hockey – what are the odds?

He gives his future plans as ‘joining the Canadian Air Force’.  I wonder if it’s this Canadian Air Force he’s thinking of:

STAN FREBERG: …ahem, okay people, now when I give you the cue, I want the 700 foot mountain of whipped cream to roll into Lake Michigan, which has been drained and filled with hot chocolate. Then the Royal Canadian Air Force will fly overhead towing a 10-ton maraschino cherry, which will be dropped into the whipped cream to the cheering of 25,000 extras. All right – cut to the mountain!
(Appropriate SFX)
Cue the Air Force!
(Appropriate SFX)
Cue the maraschino cherry!
(Appropriate SFX)
Okay, 25,000 Cheering Extras!(Appropriate SFX, which end abruptly)
Now, you want to try that on television?

Of course, if you weren’t a fan of Stan Freberg, that probably didn’t mean anything to you…

Anyway, it’s a cool interview – check it out.  And hey, Clayton – you still owe me a USST mug…

2nd Annual JSETEC Competition announced

From August 6th-8th, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) will host it’s second annual JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition) event.  I blogged about the inaugural event, held in 2009, here and here.  It was a great success and I’m sure this year’s event will be to.

This year’s event will be held at the same place the 2009 event was held at; Japan University’s Futuwa Field.  Last year, the tether was 150 meters long and this year they’ve doubled it to 300 meters.

The goals of the competition are as follows:

  • To support technical experimentation and activities geared toward building a Space Elevator Climber model for a vertical belt tether based on the Edwards’ Space elevator plan.
  • To support technical experimentation and activities geared toward developing a vertical rope tether climber which could be used for a stratospheric platform which is considered a milestone in the path toward realization of the Space Elevator.
  • Provide accurate factual information about potential plans for aSpace Elevator to the any interested parties.

There is still time (though not much) to sign up for this competition – entrance is closed on June 25th.  I’d love to go to this, but will be unable to this year – maybe next year…

Mr. Devin Jacobson of the JSEA sent me a 26 page pdf file containing information about the Japan Space Elevator Association, the 2009 competition (including details of the various climbers that were entered) and the 2010 competition.  It is a very interesting, very informative document and I highly recommend you read it.

Some of the highlights:

  • As of March 31st of this year, JSEA had 470 members.  That’s very impressive…
  • If you look at the diagram and explanation of the Tether ‘racecourse’, you’ll see similarities and differences to the ‘racecourse’ that the Spaceward Foundation has set up for it’s own Space Elevator Games.
  • The 2009 competition was held on a 150 meter tether.  This year’s competition will be held on a 300 meter tether.  Next year, they plan on using a 600 meter tether.  But, unlike the Space Elevator Games, they plan on holding the tether aloft with balloons, not a helicopter.  It will be very interesting to see how successful they are.  I know that Ben Shelef (from the Spaceward Foundation) looked at using balloons and decided that they were not practical for the kilometer long racecourse he had setup.  He also moved from the ‘seatbelt tether’ (as he had used in previous year’s competitions) to a steel cable.

It is really interesting to see the various approaches here, both in the climbers and the setup of the racecourse itself.

Please take a look at the pdf describing JSEA, and the 2009 and 2010 competitions – you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll be posting the results of the competition once it is completed.

Good luck and congratulations to JSEA!

And many thanks to Devin Jacobson for sending me this information so I could post it on the blog…

Translating to Belorussian…

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Patricia C., asking me if she could translate my post Hey Lasers – Happy 50th Birthday! into Belorussian (her mother tongue).  Of course I was happy to agree, asking as my only ‘payment’ if she would send me the Belorussian translation of “Space Elevator”.

A few days ago, she sent me another email saying that this was complete.  You can find her translation of my blog post here.

And, the Belorussian equivalent of Space Elevator is “???????? ????”.

Thanks Patricia!

The ISEC 2009 Space Elevator Poster

No, that’s not a typo – this post is about the ISEC 2009 Space Elevator Poster.  One of our goals at ISEC is for us to issue a commemorative poster each year.  For various and sundry reasons, the poster for 2009 never got created, until now.  The fact that we now have one is almost solely due to our new Artist-In-Residence, Frank Chase.

I’ve posted about Frank before (here and here) and carried through on my threat promise to see if he would be ‘interested in designing a poster’ for ISEC.  Frank has done more than that, agreeing to become ISEC’s Artist-In-Residence.  This poster is his first completed project and he is now throwing ideas at us for the 2010 poster (which will have as its subject the 2010 ISEC Theme – Space Debris Mitigation).  We’re actually to going to have that poster created THIS YEAR.  Frank will also be designing the cover for our new ISEC Journal as well as doing some other projects we have lined up.

Visuals convey so much more than what mere words do and I think that Frank’s efforts will be a potent weapon in ISEC’s arsenal.

Frank does truly fine work (as you can see from this poster and from his websites I linked to in my earlier posts) and we are absolutely thrilled that he has agreed to become part of the ISEC team.  Welcome Frank!

You can learn more about Frank by visiting the Team page on the ISEC Website.

Oh, and how do you get one of these posters (which is 11 x 17 inches and is offset print on high-quality, glossy stock)?  Well, if you became a member in 2009, you are going to have one shipped to you, free, as part of your membership benefits (along with my personal apologies for being so tardy with this).  Current members of ISEC can also purchase previous year’s posters (while supplies last) for a discounted price of $15.00 (plus shipping) or, if you’re not a member of ISEC, you can purchase one for $25.00 (plus shipping).

Those of you who have already joined or renewed in 2010 will get the 2010 poster for free.

(You can click on the Poster thumbnail to see a slightly larger version)