Thoughts on the 2007 Space Elevator Games from Ken Davidian

As most of my readers know, Ken Davidian is NASA’s program manager for the Centennial Challenges.  Without Ken and NASA and the $$$ Prize Money they provide there would be no Space Elevator Games, so we owe them (and the Spaceward Foundation) a HUGE vote of thanks.  THANKS EVERYONE!!

Ken has graciously agreed to my request for some “final thoughts’ on the games:

Dear Space Elevator Blog Reader,
It’s been a couple weeks since the conclusion of the 2007 Spaceward Games and I wanted to provide the NASA Centennial Challenges perspective of the event. Because we’re coming up on the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, please indulge me as I get in the “holiday” mood…
First, I’d like to thank Ted Semon for hosting this blog. The visibility he has given to this technology and the competition events has provided a great service to the readers as well as to the Spaceward Foundation and to NASA as well. Thanks, Ted!
I’d also like to thank the Spaceward Foundation from the first-time volunteers, to the “super” volunteers, to the core staff, and all the way up to Ben and Meekk Shelef, the driving forces behind the organization. As you probably know, Spaceward is administering and executing the Beam Power and Tether Challenges at no cost to NASA Centennial Challenges. For their service to NASA and to the U.S. taxpayer, I would like to thank Spaceward more than these words can possibly convey.
The heart of the competitions, of course, are the teams and their supporters, both volunteer and sponsors. In these competitions, you are the “talent” that are performing a great service for the U.S. space program. Your work (hokey as it may sound 50 years on) is really “for the benefit of all mankind.” You are pushing the envelope of what is currently achievable, doing it on your terms and with your own resources. Again, I can’t possible convey how important your sacrifice is, but I’m sure you are fully aware of how important it is. Please know that your efforts are visible and appreciated at all levels of the NASA organization.
Of course, I can’t forget to thank all our friends at the Davis County Fairpark in Farmington, Utah. It is with their enthusiastic support that Spaceward was able conduct the 2007 Spaceward Games.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge and express my appreciation for all the administrative support I’ve received from my NASA colleagues, both at HQ as well as at the centers, that help make Centennial Challenges a reality in its present form.
Now I want to say a few words about the 2007 event that was held last month. Although I was made a liar of, once again (I was *sure* there would have been a winner in the Beam Power Challenge this year!) it is exciting to see the maturity of the teams, technologies, and the Beam Power community in general. There were operational challenges that were successfully overcome to allow the complete running of the competition. Although there was some debate about whether extending the competition an extra day was the right choice, I think it was the correct decision and is supported by the philosophy that these competitions are intended to get the best performance from all the qualified teams on an equitable basis. We ran into similar “discussions” at subsequent competition events this year and the philosophy is proving to be sound.
The Tether Challenge also provided an “unexpected ending” to a story I was *sure* I knew the ending to. Given the statements from DeltaX, the commitment of the Space Spiders (aka AstroArachnaeaeaeaeaeaeaea, :-P), *AND* the $900K purse, I think next year will *definitely* prove to be an exciting competition! I’m really looking forward to it!
In summary, I think that although I could pick apart nits about any number of issues in all sorts of areas, I think the overall competition was a great success and I am encouraged by the discussions I’ve already been hearing about for the 2008 competition…
Keep up the great work, and I look forward to seeing you next year!
Ken Davidian
Program Manager, Centennial Challenges

Thank you Ken, for the kind words about my blog – they are truly appreciated.

Ad Astra!