On the Sunday, February 11th edition of The Space Show, Ken Davidian of NASA was interviewed. Ken is the man behind the seven Centennial Challenges currently being sponsored by NASA. The Beam Power and Tether competitions at the Space Elevator Games comprise two of these seven Centennial Challenges.
The interview was really enjoyable to listen to; Ken is obviously committed and passionate about Centennial Challenges. He gave us a history of how they came about, how they are being funded (or not), why they are set up the way they are and what NASA is looking to get out of them.
I was surprised to learn that NASA is NOT interested in the Beam Power Competition to power a Space Elevator, nor are they interested in the Tether competition to build a Space Elevator. Ken put it quite bluntly: “NASA’s not interested in Space Elevators…”, at least not as far as the Centennial Challenges are concerned. NASA is looking at the results / winners / new technologies developed out of the Beam Power competition for Lunar exploration purposes and they are looking at the Tether competition for fundamental materials research. However, by partnering with the Spaceward Foundation for these two challenges, NASA is getting what it wants while helping us Space Elevator believers further our goal.
The other really interesting thing he said was that if a Space Elevator is ever built, then NASA would want to be a “good customer” (along with many others) for it.
Ken also described, in some detail, how the funding for these Centennial Challenges has happened (and not) and touched on many other subjects.
A fascinating interview, well worth your time (it’s an hour and half long, but it goes by quickly).