Monthly Archives: March 2011

There’s an app for that!

For the very first (and, hopefully, only) time, I’m sorry I’m not an Apple guy.  The Japan Space Elevator Association has just released a Space Elevator app for the iPAD.  The graphic shown in the picture is the cover of a booklet that Mr. Shigeo Saito of the JSEA wrote & released a year or two ago (I have a copy somewhere, but can’t lay my hands on it at the moment).

The URL describing it doesn’t say much about the app other than “…can watch a movie of the Japan Space Elevator technology competition 2009…”.

This is bittersweet news for me.  I’ve been working on my own SE app – this for the Android and some other tablets, but the JSEA beat me to it.  Congratulations Shigeo Saito & JSEA and if anyone wants to spend the 99 cents for it and play it on their iPAD, please write me up a quick review that I can post here and share with everyone…

EuSEC – Looking for a few good teams…

A couple of months ago, I posted (here and here) about the upcoming European Space Elevator Games (EuSEC).  This post is just a reminder that registration is still open for teams who would like to compete in this competition.

On Saturday, March 12th, at 10:00 CET (09:00 UTC, 04:00 (4 am) EST, 01:00 (1am) PST, 18:00 (6 pm) JST) the game organizers will be holding a Skype conference call to answer any questions about the Games.  Tim Wiese, the Team Coordinator, will be hosting the call.  Just place a call (again, via Skype) to “eusec.warr” to be included in the call.

If you’re even just considering entering this competition, I would highly recommend that you attend this conference call to answer any questions you might have.

The Engineer’s Pulse

There is a new blog out there that I would like to inform all of my reader’s about – “The Engineer’s Pulse“.  It is authored by Stephen Cohen.

Stephen Cohen, earned his Bachelor’s (2004) and Master’s (2006) Degrees in Mechanical Engineering at McGill University.  His thesis describes the dynamics of a space elevator, and he has published several scientific papers on the topic.  He worked at MDA Space as a Structural Engineer, where he helped to design space antenna payloads to survive the rigours of space launch and the orbital environment.

Stephen presented a paper on tether dynamics at the 2009 Space Elevator Conference, a paper that was well done and was very well received.

Recently, Stephen submitted an article for our upcoming ISEC Journal.  The article was rejected, sadly, not because it was poorly done or anything like that, but because it was “too general”.  However, Stephen has recently posted this article, “The Space Elevator: Past, Present, Future” on his website and I highly recommend both it and his blog in general.

“…Science Fact or Science Fiction”

In a recent post on the Space Travel Exploration and Tourism website, the author(s) talk about the Space Elevator and bring up several potential problems.

The first one is the lack of a material strong enough and of course this is true.  As we all know, however, this problem is being worked on by an ever-growing body of scientists and engineers.

The article also says that “laser-power-transfer systems have never been built“.  The authors are clearly unaware of the NASA-Spaceward Space Elevator Games – Climber / Power Beaming competitions where several teams have built precisely this type of system.  Yes, they are small and essentially prototypes, but they show the concept works and a little birdie has told me that the next Power Beaming competition will be even more ambitious.  Also, there is at least one company (LaserMotive) that is now in business to provide precisely this type of product.

They also bring up the problem of Space Debris – perhaps I should send them a copy of the recently released ISEC Report on the topic (which concludes that this is a solvable engineering problem).

Finally they bring up the issue of what happens ‘when the cable breaks’ – they say you certainly wouldn’t want to be under it when that happens.  Let’s remember that the tether will be shaped as a ribbon for the great majority of its length (the length outside of the atmosphere).  This will not ‘fall’ to earth, but rather ‘float’ to earth.  It will almost certainly be winched in while it is fluttering down.  Messy, yes.  A disaster for those underneath it, no.

Finally they say that “Heights of up to 65,000 km have been suggested.”  Actually, the working model is 100,000km in height, not 65,000 km.

Publicity is almost always good of course, but at some point I hope that people will do a bit of research about the current ‘state-of-the-art’ of the Space Elevator before writing about it.

“A Space Elevator to replace the shuttle”

It’s very nice to see the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) get a mention in a non-English publication.

In the online article, “Un ascenseur spatial pour remplacer la navette” (A space elevator to replace the shuttle), we read that, according to ISEC, “…each kilogram into orbit returns to a few tens of dollars, against 20 000 for a launch with an Ariane rocket or Titan.  This is the google translation of the original French.  I’m not sure where the author got that information from – we haven’t made that promise, but perhaps there was an error in the translation.

Also, no mention of Yuri Artsutanov or Jerome Pearson, the real intellectual fathers of the Space Elevator.

But these are minor quibbles – in general the article seemed to be well-written and did mention the upcoming Space Elevator Conference.