This morning, I received the following email from Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates:
The sails are up and the trade winds are a blowin’!
We have done some testing with low power lasers horizontally at 1km. We have lined up two different Solar cell providers depending on what laser we end up using. We have one or two answers for every technical challenge we have anticipated. We have a few parts for the ’08 climber in house that are awaiting testing along with some sketches of where to put them.
Our focus has been in making sure we have a viable plan, but the fund raising environment seems warmer than last year.
We have recruited some more expertise this year to make sure we have all the skills needed.
We are heading to a trade show called Photonics West in San Francisco. It is the biggest show of it’s type and all of the major Laser vendors will be there. As well as most of the optical suppliers we will need. It is looking pretty good that we will be able to secure the use of a $1 Million dollar laser for the competition.
We have decided to plan for the full $2 Million prize at a speed of 5 Meters per second.
Even with the shortened schedule this year we are ahead of where we were the last 2 years.
All in all, progress is good and this may be the best year to be a Space Pirate yet!
Thanks again for all of your support.
I think the Space Pirates have to be considered one of the early favorites in this competition, even though they are moving to a new power source (lasers vs. sunlight). They have learned many lessons in the last two competitions (i.e. they now are an experienced team) and their climber was actually the fastest last year during the qualification climb. If they had been able to sustain that speed during the competition run, they would have easily won it. As it was, they came pretty close.
Yes, I know they have a whole new set of problems to worry about, among the most significant being the ability to have their laser track the climber during it’s ascent/descent. But it’s a problem that’s been solved before by others and I’m confident the KC Space Pirates will figure it out too.
Only 8 more months to go!