Monthly Archives: May 2011


A few updates for you…

Over at Marc Boucher’s Space Elevator Reference (THE original Space Elevator website), Marc tells us that “The European Spaceward Association has made available a summary report from the recent 4th Luxembourg Carbon Nanotechnology and Space Elevator Systems as well as the book of abstracts.”  Full details and links can be found at his posting here.

A new book (Triads, The Gradient Stone) themed around a Space Elevator is now available.  From the abstract;

The Gradient Stone, an unidentifiable purple comet, collides with the space elevator creating the first disaster of spacetime mankind has ever faced, what’s even worse is that the hero Alex also seems to be the cause.  The greatest military killers are converging at the world’s first space elevator to form a new branch of military; Primary Resistance and Offensive Tactical Officer’s or PROTO’s are interplanetary paratroopers who possess not only the most advanced weapons and black ops technology but who rely on the ability to kill without emotion. This story follows the cocky and quick-tempered Alex Amador who is intrigued by the calm and collected Evelyn Artwright as they struggle to uncover the reasons why strange global events seem to be centered around Alex and his 19th century relative.

It’s available, it seems, only in Kindle eBook format for $.99.  You can learn more about it here and buy it directly from Amazon here.

Mr. Uche Ogbuji (follow his Tweets at @uogbuji) Tweets that “Also I’m honored my poem “Sendai Space Elevator” will appear in the “New Sun Rising” anthology to benefit Japan  From the website:

On March 11, 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the north of Japan. In the wake of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in the history of Japan, a state of nuclear emergency was declared, forcing the evacuation of thousands more.

The world watched, stunned.

We wanted to help. Just giving money didn’t seem like enough.

The idea for New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan was born.

Thanks to your overwhelming generosity, we’ve received amazing stories, poems, and art from around the world. Enough for half a dozen books.

Right now, we’re going through all the wonderful work you’ve sent, making some really difficult decisions. And we’re really excited about how amazing this book is going to be.

And we’re going to give one hundred percent of the proceeds to the Red Cross to aid the relief effort in Japan.

This sounds like a very cool project.

On a related note, I had previously blogged that there was now a Space Elevator app for the iPad.  The author of the app, Mr. Shigeo Saito sent me this update about it:

As you pointed out, this digital book is a revised version of the one you saw two years ago.  I added 4 pages of writing to the old one, changed all of background illustration and attached a movie file of the SE-technology competition held in Japan 2009.

This “Pocketbook” is a digest for beginners who will learn about the Space Elevator for the first time.  I hope this book will become a help in this topic for them.

As you know, a big earthquakes hit our country last week. This digital book was released the day after the earthquakes happened.  So I am going to pay some part of my profit of this book as contribution.

So, you can purchase this cool app and help out Japan at the same time.  Thanks Saito-san!

Japan and Space Solar Power

In the may Space Energy News eNewsletter, it references a January, 2011 article in the Japan newspaper Daily Yomiuri Online.  It talks about an experiment testing the feasibility of space-based solar power generation;

The technology would start by generating electricity from sunlight in space, convert the power into microwaves and then send it to Earth, the team said. The planned test will attempt to convert a strong electric current into microwaves and transmit them 10 meters away in a simulated outer space environment at Kyoto University.

I have blogged before about my skepticism about this technology.  I have no doubts that it is technically feasible.  No real scientific breakthroughs need to occur in order to have some sort of demonstration project set up.  But I am very doubtful about this being used to generate a significant portion of the world’s energy needs – the amount of energy we use is just too vast.  I think I calculated once that it would take solar satellites with the combined area of the country of India beaming down to an area the size of Italy, just to keep up with the forecasted increase in our energy demand.  The problem is just one of sheer bulk – an awful, awful lot of material would have to be put into geosynchronous orbit (and then maintained, perhaps an even bigger problem).

But, hope springs eternal.  Japan is certainly the ideal testing place.  They are a skilled, patient people, very technologically advanced and, with a falling birth rate (which, along with being more energy efficient, could translate to an actual drop in their energy needs).

I am waiting for the day when any proponent of space-based solar power actually ‘runs the numbers’ and states how much material (weight and size) will need to be launched into GEO to generate a significant amount of power – they seem to avoid this exercise…

No matter how efficient the energy gathering / transmission mechanism eventually is, the enormous amount of material to be launched into space to build such a system will demand a commercial earth-to-space transportation system, and that means a space elevator.  If you’re a fan of commercially available space-based solar power, you HAVE to hope that a Space Elevator is technically feasible.

On the website (yes, this is a real website), they allude to this by saying;

The next step will be figuring out how to reduce the cost of putting all that material in space. This will probably mean cheaper and more efficient launchers, but also lighter solar panels and equipment.

Space Elevator, space elevator, space elevator…

Announcing JSETEC2011

The Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) has announced the JSETEC2011 competition, to be held August 4th through the 8th.

Details can be found on the announcement webpage.  If, you’re like me and cannot read Japanese, open the page in Google Chrome and translate it to your language of choice.

This is the third JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition) event and I’m sure it will be the best, most ambitious one yet.  Among other changes, they are increasing the height of the climb from 300m to 600m!

In February, I had blogged about this competition, and included some videos that Mr. Shuichi Ohno, president of JSEA had sent me.

Congratulations JSEA – we look forward to an exciting event!

(Hat tip to reader Darren Coste for alerting me to this – thanks Darren!)

The Animals ride a Space Elevator

Here’s an animation that just showed up in my FeedDemon reader – 8 animals riding on a Space Elevator, part of a United Nations project:

“The Animal Conference on the Environment” multimedia project was launched in 1997 during the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Kyoto, Japan. The project includes children’s picture books promoting environmental awareness, and short animation video clips.

One of these videos (episode 5 – ‘With Love from Space’) has 8 animals (each one from a different country) taking a ride on a Space Elevator up to a Space Station.  The details they specified about the Space Elevator are correct (at least according to current thinking).  The tether (they call it a cable) is reeled outward (upwards and downwards) from GEO, the Base Station has an ocean location and , when the animals fail to get off at the first space station, it will take “days” to reach the next one (i.e. they have the Climber speed at the proper scale).

The video doesn’t give credit as to actually produced it, but I suspect the Japanese as many of the sites (one here) this video has been discussed at are Japanese, the conference kicking off the project was in Japan and when you Google this video, you find many of the titles / explanations in both English and Japanese.  Anyway, I thought it was cute…


A couple of updates for you;

First the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (you are attending, aren’t you?) will be holding a new event; RoboQuest.

This one-day event, Saturday, August 13, also held at the Microsoft Conference Center, will provide an opportunity for young people to learn more about the Space Elevator. Although details have not yet been finalized, we’re planning on having a robotics challenge for middle and high school students, demonstrations of FIRST Tech Challenge robots on a competition field and a LEGO Build Zone for kids of all ages to engineer their own space-faring vehicle.

For more details, check out the Conference eNewsletter.

Second, Brian Turner of the Kansas City Space Pirates let me know that he found out some more information about a YouTube video I had linked to a few days ago.  I didn’t know where the video had come from, but thanks to Brian’s sleuthing, I know now that this elevator climber is the product of three guys from the Afeka Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering.  You can read more about them here.

Thanks Brian!

New items from Japan

A couple of new Space Elevator items from Japan are in the news.

First is a pre-announcement of LASER2011, the annual student competition held by the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA).  This is the third (or fourth?) such competition.  No exact date has been set, but JSEA states that it will be at “the end of October”.  Details can be found here (note that this page is in Japanese – you can open the page in Google Chrome and translate it to English).

The second item is a video I found titled “Spinning Carbon Nanotubes for the Space Elevator and Industrial Applications“.  This appears to be narrated by Professor Yoku Inoue – team lead for a competitor in the 2009 Strong Tether Competition (I blogged about his entry here).  Professor Inoue and his team hailed from Shizuoka university in Japan.  Professor Inoue has been invited to compete again this year and I sincerely hope he does.


What’s interesting here (to me anyway) is that the CNT’s are being pulled out/off of the CNT ‘forest’ in a wide array.  It’s nearly transparent as you can see.  When I watched CNT’s being pulled out/off a CNT ‘forest’ at the University of Cincinnati labs, they pulled them off as a very thin thread – traveling from one of the ‘forest’ and back again.  In both cases, it is just the Van der Walls force that is holding the CNTs together…

A couple of more videos…

Two more Space Elevator themed videos I’ve found on YouTube…

The first is an interview with Jason from Team Skyhook.  I think they were going to compete in the initial Power Beaming competition, but as I wasn’t there, I’m not sure.  The video is recent (April of this year) and talks about an Engineering Expo last year and the SPACE ELEVATOR PROGRAM at the University of Idaho.  Really?  A program dedicated to this?  I will be sending him an email, for sure.  The video is basically a promo piece for the University…


And the other video I have for you today is one from (I think) Israel.  I think this is a beam-powered climber, but I’m not sure.  It’s about a year old.


It’s amazing how many videos are on YouTube that are found by using the term Space Elevator but are not really related to what we’re interested in…

A couple of videos…

Some new videos about Space Elevators have shown up on YouTube.

The first appears to be from a German Television show.  As I don’t speak German, I don’t know how accurate the presentation was but their graphic did show a Space Elevator taking off from a land-base, probably something that is not going to happen (the Base station will probably be based at sea).  Most of the video centered around the German team that participated in the Japan Space Elevator Games.

This second video is very interesting (IMHO).  Anyone who was at the Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, Washington last year got to meet Space Elevator inventor Yuri Artsutanov and his interpreter, Eugene Schlusser.  Eugene visited Yuri in Russia and enlisted his help in trying to find his (Eugene’s) Uncle’s grave.  Eugene had this to say about the trip:

We did find my uncle’s grave the next day! He died there in 1943 in the war. This was the first time I had met Yuri, through my cousin Natalie Sherman.

She thought it was not safe for me to travel alone in these remote parts of Russia so Yuri was my well informed chaperon and delightful companion.

It’s interesting to see what the reaction is to Yuri from some of the people they ran into during the search…

EuSEC moved to August, 2011

In order to accommodate some additional teams, the date of the first annual European Space Elevator Challenge (EuSEC) has been moved from June to August 19-21 (with a backup date of August 26-28).

Several teams have signed up including entries from England, Germany, Japan, Macedonia and Iran!  In addition to the Games themselves, there will be other presentations at the competition including;

  • 30m long Carbon Nanotube rope presented by the Cambridge Carbon Nanotechnology Society
  • The SpaceShaft” presented by Nelson Semino
  • An alternative concept for the Space Elevator presented by Anulekh Chauhan via Skype

A 30 m long Carbon Nanotube rope?  I hope they take pictures!  Anyway, this sounds like it is shaping up to be an awesome event.  More details about it can be found on their website.