KONE UltraRope

A recent article in The Economist talked about the KONE corporation, based in Finland, introducing a new, high-strength, carbon-fiber based rope for the conventional elevator industry called “KONE UltraRope“.  I was unable to find any information on the KONE website about actual strength measurements of the material, but did glean some snippets from other articles discussing it.  For example:

NewScientist reports: “UltraRope beats steel for tensile strength but weighs only one-seventh as much.”

Gizmag says: “…UltraRope is said to be twice as strong as steel…”

Several sources, including Phys.org report: “UltraRope has a carbon fiber core with high friction coating. The carbon fiber core lasts longer than conventional steel ropes, said KONE. UltraRope is highly resistant to wear and abrasion and, unlike steel, the structure does not densify and stretch.”

For comparison purposes, Toray Carbon Fibers America reports that its own carbon fibers have a tensile strength of approximately 6 GPa-cc/g but in useful (i.e. composite) form, “only” about 3 GPa-cc/g, on the order of the same strength as Dyneema or Spectra.

So, can we build an earth-based Space Elevator yet with UltraRope?  We can definitively say “No” to that.  But is this material strong enough to have won the NASA Strong-Tether challenge?  The answer is, well, “maybe”…  There just isn’t enough material out there (that I have been able to find) to make a determination one way or the other.

But I have emailed KONE for more info and if they provide it, I will post it here.

Regardless, it’s exciting to see carbon-fiber materials being used in applications like this (and in an elevator no less!) and one can only hope that the manufacturing knowledge being gained here will, someday down the road, be applicable to an earth-based space elevator.  The Economist understood this well when they concluded:

“Nor need carbon-fibre lift-cables be confined to buildings. They could eventually make an idea from science fiction a reality too. Space lifts, dreamed up in the late 1950s, are a way of getting into orbit without using a rocket. Building one would mean lowering a cable from a satellite in a geosynchronous orbit above the Earth’s equator while deploying a counterbalancing cable out into space. The cable from Earth to the satellite would not be a classic lift rope because it would not, itself, move. But it would perform a similar function of support as robotic cars crawled up and down it, ferrying people and equipment to and from the satellite—whence they could depart into the cosmos.”

2 comments June 25th, 2013

The Japan Space Elevator Association announces SPIDER

I received an email from Shuichi Ohno, President of the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) telling me about a new racing event they are holding - SPIDER.  Shuichi had this to say about it:

“Today, I would like to introduce to you our new category SE climber activities. It is called SPIDER from it’s characteristic, right weigh, speedy, smart(will be).

Until this spring, we have been holding some kind of SE climber activities. But now, we categorize them in 3 series:

- LASER : Lego bricks Activities with Space Elevator Race (weight <500g)

- SPEC(SPEC in Japan, JSPEC for the world)  : Space Elevator Challenge (weight > 1.5kg)
Sub category ; SPEC class (<1km height)  and Full-SPEC (>1km)

- SPIDER : Light weight , inexpensive climber activities (500g < weight < 1.5kg)
Sub category ; Spider (Radio controlled) and Auto Spider (automated)

Distinction of SPIDER :
- Cheap : It is possible to build up with RC car kit parts and total amount in Japan is under $160 except RC  controller or micro board computer. ( Type 540 motor and Ni-mH battery, no expensive Li-Po battery)

- Easy to build ( but not too much easy) : Builder must work with drill and jig saw and file. EST to finish by high school techie student is 30 hours.

- Safety awareness : Builder must study and think about dropping provision and safety mechanism with break.  Those are very different point from other robot building activities.

- Automation : I t is very easy to change RC receiver to micro computer like Aruduino.

On June 8th, we held a mini-race with collage and university students. 8 climber came and 4 climber succeeded to climb in almost 10km/h ascend speed.

I would like to ask you to introduce this kind of activities on you blog. It is not so difficult to build a smart climber with RC kit / parts of recent-day.

Important thing : Energy of recent battery and power of motors may cut the belt very easily if tire/roller run idle much. Please consider to use the heat-stable material tether/belt. In Japan we strongly suggest to use aramid fiber belt. Before you climb, please do the run idle and tether cutting experiment.

Thank you.”

He also posted a video on YouTube relating to this:


Thank you Ohno-San and congratulations to JSEA.  Let’s hope that this competition gets copied around the world…

2 comments June 19th, 2013

ISEC June eNewsletter now available

The ISEC eNewsletter for June has just been released and is available here.  All ISEC eNewsletters are available here.

Stories include announcements about the upcoming Conference, the recently released ISEC CONOPS report, results from a recent Climber competition in Japan and a description of our new Social Media presence.

You can sign up for our eNewsletters at the ISEC Web site.

Add comment June 10th, 2013

Tickets for the 2013 Space Elevator Conference now on sale!

Tickets for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference are now on sale!  Prices have been reduced from previous years and are a better bargain than ever.  “Early Bird” prices are available through the end of June after which registration fees will revert to the full price.

The conference, to be held on August 23rd through the 25th, will again be hosted at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.  Last year was our first at this new venue and it was truly outstanding.  The seating arrangement (large, round tables) was much more conducive to conversation among the attendees and the ‘backdrop’ of the Museum of Flight has to be experienced to be believed.

So, don’t wait - sign up now!  We have a very full schedule including several presentations and a few workshops.  And, as an added bonus, Jerome Pearson, the American Engineer who independently invented the idea of a tensile-based space elevator, will be the Keynote speaker!.  This year’s version of CLIMB is the “Jerome Pearson” edition and if you bring your copy to the conference (or purchase a copy at the conference), I’m sure Jerome will be happy to autograph it for you.

See you there!

Add comment June 7th, 2013

New ISEC Report released - Space Elevator Concept of Operations

The second in an ongoing series of ISEC reports has been released; Space Elevator Concept of Operations.  This report was written by ISEC Board Members Skip Penny and Peter Swan and co-authored by Cathy Swan.  Other ISEC Board members made suggestions and critiques during the creation process and comments and suggestions were also made in a workshop at the 2012 Space Elevator Conference devoted to this report.

From the Introduction:

This report addresses initial commercial operations of a space elevator pair with robotic climbers.  This report has been developed to help define a starting point for an initial space elevator infrastructure.  It is assumed that there are two space elevators in place to ensure continuation of our escape from the gravity well.  It also assumes that a sufficient number of climbers are available for delivering of spacecraft and other payloads to orbit, and, if required, return them to earth.  In addition, this report is designed to be the initial operations concept from which many improvements will occur as future knowledge and experience drives infrastructure concept revisions.  The description of a concept of operations, including a quick look at the transportation to space infrastructure, is broken into four sections:

Part I: Mission Description
Part II: System Characteristics
Part III: System of Systems Operations
Part IV: “A Day-in-the-Life”

Priced at only $7.00, this study is an important step in fulfilling an ongoing goal of ISEC: - taking away reasons why people can say “No” to the idea of a Space Elevator.

The report is now available from the ISEC shop at Lulu.com and will also be available from the ISEC Store.

(Click on the thumbnail picture of the cover to see a full-size image).

2 comments May 31st, 2013

The 2013 Space Elevator Conference

The 2013 Space Elevator Conference will be held from Friday, August 23rd through Sunday, August 25th at the Museum of Flight, in Seattle, Washington.  Last year’s conference was the first one held at this new venue - and the venue truly lived up to its billing.

Planning for the Conference is well under way.  Conferences Chair David Horn has been hosting bi-weekly planning calls for several months now and this conference promises to be better than ever.

A Call for Papers for the conference has been issued and papers are now starting to trickle in.  If you’re interested in submitting a paper for the conference, or just learning more about the conference, visit the website.

Mark your calendars now - be there or be square!

Add comment March 21st, 2013

Space Elevator Wiki and Software Wars

I’m very remiss / late in posting this…

Longtime Space Elevator enthusiast, Keith Curtis, the owner / maintainer of the Space Elevator Wiki website has also created a publication entitled “Software Wars”.  From the website:

“The average computer user is unaware there is a war for freedom going on that will determine the path of modern society. Software Wars is a movie about the battle for our right to share technology and ideas. Your phone is perfectly happy to add zero + zero billions of times per second, all day long. The shiny hardware gets the love, but software is the magic behind it all.

The software we need will not be “owned” by corporations like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, who are mostly impeding technological progress. (Google supports efforts such as Linux via Android, but their AI code in Google Now, language translation and driverless cars are not built in an open way.)

This software will be built by a global community, taking on problems too big for any one company or team to even understand. We should have been working together all along, but it is necessary now for the few big problems that remain.

Greater use of free software and the ideas in this movie will lead to faster progress on the Linux desktop, improve the way children learn math, finally build computers that think, decode DNA, and more. The movie’s experts explain what is possible, and the audience decides what happens.”

Keith is trying to crowdsource the funding of turning his publication into a movie.  You can see the trailer, below, visit the Indiegogo funding site here, and read/view an interview with Keith here.

Keith states that the movie will have “…a number of minutes about the space elevator…” - there are just a couple of days left in the fundraising campaign - good luck Keith!

1 comment January 15th, 2013

Epicurean meals in space…


Reader Christophe Charron sent me this short animation a few days ago.  While not directly targeted towards a Space Elevator, it’s funny and, I think, relevant nonetheless.

Christophe sends me this explanation:

Here is “Un petit plat pour l’homme”, one of the funniest short film, I think,about cooking in space (a french and epicurean vision of).

This is Corentin Charron (aka Onectin’s) third year’s short-film, from Supinfocom Arles.

  • Assigned topic: “The Kitchen”
  • Used softwares: 3ds Max 2012 (scanline only), After Effect, Premiere and Photoshop

Neil Amstrong’s “That’s one small step for man…” could be translated “Un petit pas pour l’homme” and the title of the film is “Un petit plat pour l’homme” (phoneticly near) that can be  translated as “One small dish for man”

Nothing like a good bottle of wine to make the meal complete - thank you Christophe!

Add comment December 12th, 2012

2012 BEST South Regional competition - day 2 roundup

Today was the second and last day of the 2012 BEST Competition - South Regional.  Like the first day, it was frenetic, well-organized and a lot of fun.  To get the main bit of business out of the way, the overall winner of the competition was the Cornerstone Christian Preparatory Academy from a suburb just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Their overall score in several categories, Competition, Engineering Notebook, Display Booth, and some other categories, was the highest and so they were the overall winners.  After the competition was over, I was able to track them down (not very hard - I just followed the sound of the loudest cheers) and spent several minutes talking with them and taking pictures - a great bunch of kids.  They were trying very hard to talk me into visiting their school in the near future and talking about a Space Elevator - maybe we’ll be able to do it via Skype…

Regarding the Climber competition itself, there were certainly no new Engineering principles at work here - they were robots, assembled from a Kit.  I have posted a video of one of the competition runs at our new channel on YouTube: ISECdotORG.  But the whole idea of the BEST competition, as I have written about earlier, is to encourage middle-school and high school level kids to get interested in techie stuff, science, engineering and technology.  It certainly seems to have succeeded in doing that and I’m truly grateful that Mr. Brent Percival of Auburn University (where this competition was held) called me up (out of the blue) one day earlier this year and asked if ISEC would be interested in participating.  We did spend some of our funds on sponsoring this competition and a few more of our dollars on hand-outs (posters, business cards, CLIMB Volume 1 and the ISEC report on Debris Mitigation) and I think it was very well worth it.  I had people talking to me almost the entire time I was there about the Space Elevator.

Some anecdotes…

Just before noon, one of the competition organizers came up to me and told me that I and 9 other vendors / sponsors would be stationed at tables outside the arena.  The idea was to give each of the kids participating in the competition a card with spaces on it for 8 different types of “stamps”.  Each of us at a table would have a stamp and, as the kids came around and talked to us, we would stamp their card.  If they were able to get all 8 of the stamps on their card, it would go into a drawing for a door prize.  However, there were only 8 stamps for our 10 tables.  At any one time, 2 of us would not have them.  I had a steady stream of kids and their parents coming up to my table, wanting to get their card stamped and wanting to talk about the Space Elevator.  Even when it wasn’t my turn to have a stamp, very few of the kids drifted away when they found that out - they really like the idea (and kids love posters and I had a lot of them to give away!).  I had no idea this was going to happen - completely caught me by surprise.  But it was a fun way to spend 2 hours, even if the back of my neck did get a little bit sunburned…

People sure treat you nice when they find out you’re a sponsor :).  I was given an ‘all-access’ pass and was able to go anywhere I wanted and talk to anyone I wanted. I made a point of introducing myself to the event announcer.  When I found out that his son was very much into robotics and the idea of a Space Elevator, I made sure to give him a copy of CLIMB, an ISEC Report, all 4 years of posters that we have and a couple of years of Conference proceedings to give to his son.  I wasn’t looking for any favors, just trying to get the word out, but boy, did ISEC get top billing whenever they thanked their sponsors!  Every other sponsor was just mentioned by name.  When he mentioned ISEC, he raved about how this group was really working on the idea / project of building a space elevator.  I would say, with a very high degree of confidence, that fewer than 10 people at the event knew about ISEC when the event started.  But by the time we were finished, I had people coming up to me to talk to me, people would point me out when I walked by, everyone would say “Thank you for helping out this event”, etc., etc., etc…  We truly did get some excellent publicity at this event.

A case in point was at the end of the competition and I tracked down the team from Cornerstone.  Many of them knew who I was and what ISEC was about and they insisted that I join them for a group photo (which you can find on our Flickr account; ISECdoORG, along with other photos from the 2-day event).  That was pretty cool…

There was just a lot on fun, techy-nerdy stuff going on too.  Each of the teams could submit a short video which was then displayed several times during the competition - and a winner was chosen at the end of the competition.  The winning video was a play on Star Wars, with the punch line being “May the Centrifugal Force Be With You” - I love it!  But my personal favorite (which took 2nd place) was about how Thor was banished from Asgard by his father.  Naturally, he landed in a Science Class and, after he told the students his plight, they built him a Space Elevator so he could return home - very creative.

Each of teams had a mascot.  There were robots (lots of different kinds), Sharks, Eagles, Tigers, etc., and, today, they held a “Dance-off” - again the top three each being awarded a prize.  The audience really got into it (and so did the referees!).  I took a video of the first round of competition, but didn’t post it as it did get a bit long.  But the finals were short and fun and I’ve posted a video of that too.  Sorry for the not-great quality.  I tried to make my Canon point-and-shoot do double-duty (pictures and videos) and it just doesn’t do a great job on videos.  But the final result was OK and I think you’ll enjoy watching it.  And I’m also sorry that the song they danced to was “Gangnam Style” - it seems to be everywhere!

I think that’s it.  I do want to sincerely thank the BEST organizers and the Auburn staff, especially Mr. Brent Percival who invited ISEC to participate, for all their kindnesses - they truly showed what Southern Hospitality was all about and they ran a great competition.

(The top photo thumbnail is of the representatives from Cornerstone, hoisting their trophy in triumph.  Not great quality - taken on a camera phone so I could Tweet it right away.  The bottom thumbnail is of my favorite poster at the event.  Click on either to see a full-size picture and visit ISECdotORG on Flickr to see more photos from the Event).

Add comment December 3rd, 2012

2012 BEST South Regional competition - day 1 roundup

70 degrees today here in Auburn, Alabama.  Sunny skies, very little wind - just a delightful day.  So what am I doing?  I’m inside all day watching the South Regional BEST competition!

I’ve posted before about what BEST is, so will concentrate on today’s event in this post.  Most of the day was setup and practice - actual competition didn’t begin until 5pm.  These were preliminary, ’seeding’ matches - 4 teams competed at one time, with the best 2 moving on to tomorrow’s finals.  On the ISEC Flickr account, I’ve posted the best of the pictures I took today - more tomorrow, I promise.  Also, I’ll have a video tomorrow of one of the competition runs.  I captured one today but it turned out to be of very poor quality.  Memo to self - don’t use the zoom feature of my Canon point-and-shoot when recording video.

Each team was given a kit to make a climber out of.  In this sense it is very similar to the LASER competition held by the Japan Space Elevator Association.  The tether belt was shorter than the one at LASER - maybe 5-7 meters tall.  There were various types of ‘payload’ that the Climbers had to grab and either go up the tether with it and put it in its proper location or else grab it from the top of the run and bring it back down to the bottom.  The teams have 3 minutes to get as much payload moved as possible.

The results of the competition are only one part of a team’s final score.  The booth they had, the engineering project workbook they made and a few other items all were part of it too.

The competition is really well organized.  They have lots of judges and referees, teams are staged before they actually are let into the competition area, scores are kept electronically and, in general, it is a very orderly process.  But it’s not quiet, oh no!  Each team has a cheering section and it reminded me of a European Soccer match.  Waving flags, chants, etc., and with music pounding in the background.  Each team also has a mascot, so there were high-school kids dressed up as robots (many varieties), sharks, war eagles (the Auburn mascot) wandering around all day too, just to add to the festivities.

As ISEC is a sponsor of this event, we have our logo in all of the literature and it is also shown on the Scoreboard over the Arena - the first time, I think we’ve been up in lights!  I also have my own table where I spent a good part of the day hanging around.  I brought several copies of CLIMB, the ISEC Report on Space Debris Mitigation, posters from all 4 years, some Conference proceedings and a few copies of the National Geographic that the Space Elevator and ISEC was featured in.  And, oh yes, lots of ISEC Business cards.  I only put out half of the material today which was a good thing, because by the end of the day it was all gone.  I’ll hand out the rest of it tomorrow.  It was also a lot of fun talking to the competitors, their teachers and their parents about the Space Elevator.  Even with the cold I have, all in all, a great day.

More tomorrow!

And, if you want up-to-the-minute information, follow us on Twitter and/or on Facebook at ISECdotORG!

(Picture thumbnail is a close-up of one of the Climbers. Click on it to see a full-size version or visit our Flickr page (ISECdotORG) to see more photos).

Add comment December 2nd, 2012

BEST Competition - getting ready for Day 1

There is never an opportune time to get sick, but here I am, with a cold, at the South’s regional BEST competitionin Auburn, Alabama.  I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled to many, many places, both inside and outside the US, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to Alabama.  Last night was my first experience with Chick-Fil-A and, I must say, the sandwich lived up to the hype.

I’m staying at a Best Western hotel in Opelika and at breakfast this morning, there were a lot of teams/team members there - very neat to see…

Competition doesn’t begin until 5pm today at the Auburn Arena.  The time prior to that is setup and preparation and I’m looking forward to wandering around the arena, introducing myself (as much as my sore throat will let me), taking pictures and, in general, just soaking up the competition atmosphere.

Gonna be fun!

(The picture thumbnail is of team #408, in the hotel parking lot, getting a last-minute briefing from one of the adult members.  Click on the thumbnail for a full-size picture.)

Add comment December 1st, 2012

ISEC co-sponsors this year’s BEST Competition

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is co-sponsoring one of the regional BEST competitions this year, the one held in Auburn, Alabama on December 1st and 2nd of this year.

From Wikipedia:

BEST, Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology, is a national 6-week robotics competition in the United States held each fall, designed to help interest middle school and high school students in possible engineering careers…BEST encourages its teams to follow an engineering process, similar to the engineering process used in many engineering jobs. This gives students a taste of what they may have to do in future engineering jobs. It also hopes to get students excited about the field of engineering and more likely to go into it. Although BEST has not been able to keep up with alumni to see if BEST has had an effect on their career path, similar robotics competitions, like FIRST, show that activities like BEST do have a higher rate of students going into science and engineering related fields.

This year’s competition is entitled Warp XX and consists of designing Tether Climbers.  I’m going to be attending the competition, taking photos, passing out ISEC ‘goodies’ and talking up the idea of a Space Elevator.

It should be a lot of fun and I look forward to attending and blogging this event.

1 comment November 25th, 2012

Announcing the 2013 Space Elevator Conference dates and venue!

It’s official - the 2013 ISEC Space Elevator Conference will be held on August 23rd, 24th and 25th, 2013 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

This is the same place as the 2012 Conference was held at and it is a truly fine venue for an event such as ours.

Planning is already underway and more details will be coming soon.

Mark your calendars and save the date!

Add comment November 21st, 2012

Updates from the Kansas City Space Pirates

I’m a bit behind posting this - the October updates from our friends in Kansas City.  Brian Turner, captain and fearless leader of KCSP writes the following:

The laser power supply was fixed under warranty. Lumina power seems to have given me a generous benefit of the doubt about the failure.

I have reinstalled it and everything is testing out fine.

We have lost some momentum. At this point we are just working on power beaming in our spare time.

But in our spare time we have managed to get full control of the quadcopter via our LabVIEW programing environment. This allows us to “close the loop” between the tracking, and laser control systems. Something we would have had to do manually before. I also have improved quadcopter flight stability while hauling the solar panel.

You might wonder why this is taking us so long when Lasermotive pulled it off in about 3 months. The answer is time and money. They had at least 2 full time employees working on it and up to 4 kilowatts of laser power targeted at thousands of dollars of photovoltaic cells. We are limited by having far less laser power and much less expensive photovoltaic cells. If we do nothing but match their performance we will have substantially improved the state of the art from a price/performance point of view.

So… Watch this space.

Brian Turner
KC Space Pirates

It’s good to see that even without the NASA prize money available anymore, Brian and the KCSP continue to plug away…

1 comment November 13th, 2012

First pictures from the 2012 European Space Elevator Competition (EUSPEC)

A couple of weekends ago, the second annual European Space Elevator Competition (EUSPEC) was held.  ISEC’s own Martin Lades attended this event and has been able to send me some preliminary pictures and information.  Winter has arrived early in Europe this year and Martin reports that the first climb was held in the snow!  Martin reports:

“The issue was of course the weather with rain and snow on the second day.  Picture attached. ~50m climb track.” This is the picture thumbnail in the upper left.

Martin also sent 3 other pictures (taken by Julius Hein) of the competitors enjoying the snow.

The competition was organized by TU Munich as EuSPEC, the WARR working group, one of the oldest university working groups in Germany, and Eurospaceward is a sponsor.

Official results coming soon…




Click on any of the picture thumbnails to see a full size picture.

Add comment November 10th, 2012

The Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) Blog

I just found out that Devin Jacobson, a member of the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA), has been maintaining a blog entitled “JSEA Activities” (a name almost as unique as the one on this blog :).

Many of the posts are about Devin’s thoughts about space and the future and many of them are about activities at the JSEA.  For example, his current post talks about the recently completed JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical and Engineering Competition).

I’ve put his blog into my RSS FeedReader and recommend you do the same…

3 comments October 20th, 2012


There is a new space elevator-themed short out now called Payload.  It’s nice to see the Space Elevator getting more publicity this way, but this short film is a real downer - it makes The Hunger Games look like It’s a Wonderful Life in comparison…

And, maybe it’s just me, but the opening shot of an ascending Space Elevator reminded me a little bit of the Kansas City Space Pirates and LaserMotive’s entries in the 2009 Space Elevator Games…

I’m also reminded of Brian Turner (the captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates) appearance on the Conan O’Brien show.  After Brian had described his vision of the highway system to outer space,  Conan remarked that “It will be filled with drifters, loners and prostitutes.

Gee, such optimism about the future.

(The picture thumbnail is of the LaserMotive climber during it’s prize-winning ascent in the 2009 SE Games, courtesy of NASA.  Click on it to see a full-size version of the picture).

1 comment October 17th, 2012

Brewster Rockit meets the Space Elevator

Yes, Brewster Rockit fans, your intrepid hero has now commented on the Space Elevator.

The joke is old (see here and here and elsewhere too, I’m sure), but he has the basic facts of a Space Elevator correct and the artwork is pretty good :)




Add comment October 15th, 2012

Meet ISEC’s new eNewsletter editor

I’m very pleased to announce that Yi-Jeng Huang, a resident of the Canada, has agreed to join ISEC as our new eNewsletter editor.

Yi-Jeng brings a lot of experience in creating and editing newsletters to the table as well as a passion for the Space Elevator.  He attended the recent Space Elevator conference and volunteered his services there.

With Yi-Jeng heading up the effort, I’m confident that ISEC’s eNewsletter will get better by orders of magnitude in the very near future.

Thank you Yi-Jeng and welcome aboard!

You can sign up for ISEC’s eNewsletters here.

(Click on the picture thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.  Yi-Jeng can be reached at yi-jeng.huang [at] isec.org.)

1 comment October 8th, 2012


ISEC has a new social presence - and that is ISECdotORG!  Our Twitter Feed is ISECdotORG.  Our Flickr Photostream is ISECdotORG!  And our new Facebook page is ISECdotORG!

I’ll have more to write about ISEC’s new ‘face’ in the near future, but for now, please follow ISEC on Twitter at ISECdotORG and please “Like” us on Facebook at ISECdotORG!

Add comment October 4th, 2012

Space Elevator Conference photos now online

If you visit the ISEC Flickr Photostream, you can now see photos from last month’s Space Elevator Conference.  The Collection is divided up into various sets and all pictures are labeled.

The Museum of Flight was a very interesting and enjoyable venue for the Conference.  While the rooms weren’t as ‘fancy’ as the Microsoft Conference center was, they were quite nice and the Museum of Flight as a backdrop is nothing short of awesome.  As part of being involved in this whole Space Elevator effort, I’ve been fortunate to visit some really cool places, chief among them the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at the Edwards Air Force Base.  But the Museum of Flight ranks right up there - it truly is an amazing collection of flight-related exhibits.  And they continue to expand it - a new wing was under construction while we were there and, if we hold our Conference there next year, I very much look forward to visiting it.

We’re way behind on posting photos and we know it - we’ll have more up on this site soon…

(Picture thumbnail is one of the many, many WWII planes on exhibit at the Museum of Flight - they have a whole floor for this and another for WWI aircraft.  Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size picture.)

Add comment September 30th, 2012

NASA, the Space Elevator Challenges and the Kansas City Space Pirates

Over at one of the NASA websites, there is a very nice write-up about the Kansas City Space Pirates (KCSP) and how they performed in one of the NASA Centennial Challenges (the Power-Beaming competition).  You can read it here…  The captain of the KCSP team, Brian Turner, commented ‘We got some positive press on the actual NASA web site. Makes me want to shout ‘We’re number TWO!’

So, where are we now with the Space Elevator Games?  As NASA has not renewed its 5-year commitment to the Power Beaming and Strong Tether challenges, we in the Space Elevator community have to look to other sources to fund these competitions.

The Power-Beaming competition appears to be dormant at this time.  KCSP wanted to challenge LaserMotive’s unofficial endurance record, but this isn’t happening, at least not in the immediate future.

For the Strong Tether Challenge, however, the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) has pledged to find sponsorship money and host a Competition for 2013.  Finding a material strong enough to make a Tether is still the major problem and this is what we have to concentrate on.

You can bank on it - ISEC will sponsor a Strong Tether Challenge in 2013!

Add comment September 24th, 2012

Round-up of news coverage of the 2012 Space Elevator Conference

Here is a list of the majority of articles that covered the recently completed Space Elevator Conference.

Leading off is Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log post.

A post from RT.com.

A local (Seattle) Online news source, The SunBreak, had a story here.

David Appell posted his coverage of the conference at the online site of Scientific American (the graphics in this article were provided by ISEC’s graphic artist, Frank Chase).

The Conference was mentioned in the Economist article on Space Elevators.

Some pre-conference articles / announcements:

This one from the Atlantic.

An article from CBS Seattle.

Geekwire questions ISEC Director Bryan Laubscher here and posts another article about the conference here.

The Tukwila discusses the ‘upcoming’ conference here.

And finally, the Space Elevator Reference announced the conference here.

1 comment September 19th, 2012

ISEC’s new Twitter Feed

ISEC has a new Twitter feed and a new “social media identity” - ISEC.ORG (or ISECdotORG for those sources, such as Twitter, that have a problem with ‘the period’)!

As ISEC’s President, I pledge to send out Tweets on a regular basis, so please Follow us on Twitter at ISECdotORG!

I’ve just Tweeted about the Board of Director elections at the recent annual Board Meeting - check out the election results here.

Add comment September 15th, 2012

Deadlines approaching…

posted earlier about the LiftPort Kickstarter campaign; it has now raised over $96,000 - and there is only 11 hours to go (as of this post).  If you want to contribute towards the rebirth of LiftPort, here’s a tangible way to show your support!

And,  I also posted earlier about The Tower of Babel: NASA’s Great Endeavor, a new novel with a Space Elevator as a central theme.  The author, Dr. Victor Nelson had previously offered to donate any revenues he received from early August through the end of the just-completed space elevator conference to ISEC.  Dr. Nelson has now extended that offer to September 15th, so you still have a chance to buy the book and help ISEC.  Dr. Nelson also tells me he lives ”…near the Johnson Space Center and will be happy to sign the books for those who are in the area.”  Thank you Dr. Nelson!

Add comment September 12th, 2012

ISEC September, 2012 eNewsletter released

The current issue of the ISEC eNewsletter has been released.  This newsletter contains a wrap-up of the just-completed Space Elevator conference, a status update on LiftPort’s Kickstarter campaign (which has now raised over $85K - wow!) and a status update on the upcoming EuSPEC (EuroSpaceward’s annual Space Elevator competition).

You can see the eNewsletter by visiting the ISEC website here.

If you’re not already subscribed to the Newsletter, you can do so here and have it delivered directly to your Inbox.

Check it out!

Add comment September 11th, 2012

The Space Elevator Conference makes Scientific American

In the current online issue of Scientific American, science writer David Appell has a piece about the Space Elevator, the recent conference (photos & update coming soon, promise!), LiftPort, etc., etc., etc…

The graphic in the article is from the 2012 ISEC Poster (designed by Frank Chase - great job Frank!).

This is just the latest in a series of articles that David has written about the Space Elevator.  Other ones include:

Stairway to the heavens, Physics World, December 2011

Japanese construction firm unveils ambitious space-elevator vision, Physics World, April 2012, p. 8

Thanks David.

Add comment September 5th, 2012

LiftPort and Kickstarter…

As part of the “LiftPort 2.0″ relaunch, Michael Laine and company have created a Kickstarter campaign to finance some projects they want to do/accomplish.

Their initial goal was to raise $8K to finance some fairly low-grade experiments and they have totally blown by that (their campaign has raised over $60K at the time of this blog post - MOST impressive…).  This will allow them to fund some of their ’stretch’ goals which are much more ambitious undertakings.

I spent some time with Michael at the recent Space Elevator Conference (posts about this Conference are coming soon - promise!) and it was very good to interact with him again.  He’s a dynamic force in the community and I’m glad he’s back.

I’ve become a sponsor of the LiftPort KickStarter project (at the Video Channel level - I think it’s a great idea) and I encourage you to do the same (at any level).  There’s a lot we need to learn to make a Space Elevator a possibility and this effort will contribute to the total body of knowledge that will be necessary to make this most magnificent of all engineering projects a reality.

(Note that funding for these projects will close on September 13th, so act soon if you want to be a part of this!) 

4 comments September 3rd, 2012

The Tower of Babel

I was just made aware of another book (published in August of 2011) that has a Space Elevator as a “major player”.  This book, The Tower of Babel: NASA’s Great Endeavor, was written by Dr. Victor Nelson.  We hadn’t heard of him and he hadn’t heard of ISEC until very recently.  After some brief correspondence with ISEC’s Bryan Laubscher, Dr. Nelson made the very generous offer that any revenues he receives from selling his book from now until the end of the current Space Elevator Conference will be donated to ISEC.

Thank you Dr. Nelson!

Bryan has ordered his copy and I’ve just ordered mine (via Kindle - I love my Kindle - thanks wife!).

The obligatory ‘dust jacket’ description:

Earth has survived into the third decade of the twenty-first century, but the United States and Communist China have become embroiled in a deadly space race. Whoever succeeds will have a dominant advantage in colonizing Mars and producing military bases in deep space and on Earth’s moon. Although the Chinese have a head start with their project, a recently revivified NASA has developed new technologies that will gain for them a competitive edge. The Chinese will stop at nothing to obtain this classified information and to destroy the American scientific leadership. Magnus Kolden, a brilliant scientist, was oblivious to the ominous signs of trouble and disaster when he was appointed as NASA’s project leader. He has never had an interest in the military applications of this technology, but only in its use for the advancement of science. Nevertheless, he will have to lead the Americans to victory in the largest space endeavor in the history of humankind. A life-long dream of creating a better way to travel into deep space has come with a heavy price. Magnus finds himself pitted against a ruthless enemy agent organization and also against Islamic extremist terrorists. Both organizations will stop at nothing to terminate his pursuits. He is fighting for the safety of his family, his life, and his dreams. Many internal and external forces may sabotage his success. A cataclysmic event will change the course of the story. What revelation will be thrust upon Magnus Kolden?

It sounds very interesting and I will probably delve into it during my plane ride home.

So, buy the book and benefit ISEC - thank you again Dr. Nelson, and I hope to get to meet you at a future event.

Add comment August 24th, 2012

The BBC talks about the Space Elevator Conference

Space Elevator Conference chair David Horn was interviewed by BBC’s Richard Hollingham recently and the result of that interview is posted here, on the BBC Future website.

It’s a good article and gets the basic facts right.  It does incorrectly state that ISEC has been the organizer of the Space Elevator Conferences for the past 10 years (this is the first year that ISEC is the organizer), but that’s a minor nit.

All in all, well worth a read…

Add comment August 22nd, 2012

Space Elevator Conference registration deadline approaching…

Just a reminder that registration closes for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference on Sunday, August 19th, so you have 12 days from today to register if you want to attend (and you do want to attend, don’t you?).

The latest press release from the Conference:

Tether Strength Competition and Pacific Science Center Exhibits at the 2012 Space Elevator Conference

The technical conference will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington August 25th through August 27th, 2012.

undefinedRegistration for the 3-day technical conference closes August 19, 2012 in order to get our final attendee and catering counts to the museum and to the caterer.  All 3-day registrations will be entered in a raffle to win one of two Android Tablets (a 10” and a 7” model) provided by Leeward Space Foundation.  Raffle winners will be announced at the Saturday night dinner banquet.

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 25th is included with Museum of Flight admission. You do not need to register for the Saturday Family Science Fest.

3-Day Technical Conference

The presentation schedule for the technical will be finalized by August 10th.  There may be a few changes to the presentation order and start times between now and August 10th.  Check out the fantastic presentations we have lined up this year, register to come see them, and participate in the discussions!

Tether Strength Challenge:  ISEC is funding the prize purse for this year’s Tether Strength Competition and the rules have been updated to lower the bar a bit and increase the chances that someone will win the competition this year.  Competition rules are now available on the conference web site.  One or two teams are interested in competing this year and we’re working to get them registered for the challenge.

Family Science Fest

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 25th is included in the Museum of Flight admission price. We have recently added the Pacific Science Center to the list of activities.  They will have physics exhibits and instructors to provide hands-on experience with various physics concepts for kids of all ages.  The Family Science Fest also includes the Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, the ever-popular youth robotics competition (rules and registration instructions are on the web site), and much more.  This is a great event for the whole family!

About the Space Elevator

The Space Elevator is one of the most magnificent Engineering projects ever conceived. It promises abundant access to space and a multitude of benefits for humanity. Come to the Conference and hear presentations and discussions with people working to make the Space Elevator a reality!

Many thanks to the Museum of Flight for being a “Counter Weight” level sponsor of this year’s conference.

Find us on Facebook.

Add comment August 7th, 2012

EuSPEC 2012 planning well underway…

Planning for the 2012 European Space Elevator Challenge (EuSPEC) is well underway.  This is the second year this competition is being held and it will occur October 25th through the 28th in Munich, Germany.

The application deadline is tomorrow, July 31st and more details can be found at their website.

The first competition (EuSEC 2011) was a great success and I’m sure this one will be even better.

Add comment July 30th, 2012

The Space Elevator and Forbes…

In today’s Forbes online, science journalist Bruce Dorminey writes about the Space Elevator and the upcoming Space Elevator conference.

Bruce interviewed ISEC Conferences Chair David Horn for his story.

This is an excellent interview / article and well worth the read.

And remember, the conference is only a little more than 4 weeks away.  There is still time to register, but don’t delay.

See you there!

Add comment July 25th, 2012

Dr. Bryan Laubscher to appear on The Space Show

This coming Monday, July 16th, from 2pm to 3:30pm Pacific time, Dr. Bryan Laubscher, astrophysicist and ISEC Board Member, will appear on Dr. David Livingstone’s The Space Show.  Bryan will talk about the Space Elevator, the upcoming Space Elevator Conference, carbon nanotubes and other related subjects.

From the Space Show website:

The Monday, July 16, 2012 program from 2-3:30 PM PDT welcomes back Dr. Bryan Laubscher for space elevator news, updates, and conference information.

Dr. Laubscher is a PhD in Physics with a concentration in Astrophysics. After a career as a project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory that included research and development of astronomy projects, space missions, satellite instrumentation, optics, novel electrodynamic detection techniques, high power lasers, and classified projects Bryan became interested in the Space Elevator. Bryan’s current Space Elevator activities include being the General Chairman for the annual Space Elevator Conference held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, WA. Pursuing the R&D of the Space Elevator has led him to start Odysseus Technologies, LLC a small company based in Washington state with the goal of developing high strength carbon nanotube materials. In August 2010 and 2011, Odysseus Technologies competed in the NASA Centennial Strong Tether Challenge. Although the tether was not strong enough to win prize money, it was strong enough to beat the other two teams. Bryan now lives in Olympia, WA with his wife Carla.

Listeners can talk to Dr. Bryan Laubscher or the host using toll free 1 (866) 687-7223. Listeners can also send short email questions or comments during the discussing using by sending e-mail during the program using drspace@thespaceshow.com, thespaceshow@gmail.com or dmlivings@yahoo.com.

Tune in and get the latest news and don’t hesitate to call in if you have a question or comment.

Add comment July 14th, 2012

Early Bird Special - Last Call!

Just a reminder that July 15th is absolutely, positively the very last day you can sign-up to attend the upcoming Space Elevator Conference at the Early Bird special rates.  After that date, full-price will be charged.

This year’s Conference, to be held August 25-27 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, promises to be the best ever and we sure hope you can attend.

Be There or Be Square!

Add comment July 10th, 2012

Reminder - All Fall Down is free for a limited time…

A few days ago, I posted about Vern McGeorge’s eBook, All Fall Down, and mentioned that it would be free (Kindle version) from July 4th through the 8th.  This offer is open now, so visit the website and download this eBook for free!

I asked Vern if he had any comments about the writing process or anything else he would like to share and he sent me this:

What can I say about the book?

Well, I’m glad I wrote it. It’s not been financially lucrative yet - still very much in starving artist mode - but as an avid reader, I have wanted for years to give something back to the world of books. Now,I have - and I am proud of the result.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. It is harder than it looks and I learned (and am still learning) many lessons along the way. Among them:

  • If you are trying to write a book that is accurate to a set of facts, do your research first. It is easier to revise before you write than after.
  • When all is said and done, you have to “un-write” as well. It took years to get to 140,000 words and a year to then get rid of 40,000 words. My style got leaner and more direct as I wrote so at the end, 2/3rds of the first 1/3rd of the book had to go. It was pure bloat and removing it left a much better book.
  • Pick a story that won’t let you go. Reading three bad novels and saying “I can do better than this” will get you started but when it gets tough, and it will, a story that you just cannot let go untold will pull you through.
  • Having someone else read your work and edit your work is invaluable.
  • When you are done, you are not done. Getting the book published or self publishing as an indie author is every bit as hard as writing the book in the first place. There has never been a better time to be an indie author, but it is hard work.

All Fall Down is 20% science-fiction and 80% techno-thriller. I’m glad about the former because I feel a sense of mission to keep telling people about the Space Elevator, but my next novel will be a pure techno-thriller about an EMP attack against the USA and America’s military response. I have three more space elevator novels in the queue and a planned series of interstellar colonization stories in the planning stages. Must write faster!

I don’t recall the quotes exactly, but Charles Sheffield said “don’t let a few facts get in the way of a good story.” Robert Heinlein said “above all else, the writer owes the reader an entertaining story.” I hope that I have done both, and that where my elevator differs from Dr. Edwards’ design, I have adequately set the record straight in my Afterword. I am always eager to do anything I can to get the word out about the space elevator and will gladly answer any questions about the space elevator or about writing at Spark of Ideation.

So, head on over to the website and get a copy of this book for yourself.

1 comment July 5th, 2012

Six more days

Only six more days until the “Early Bird” registrations for the 2012 Space Elevator Conference, with significant reductions over the standard registration rates, expire.

As noted earlier, this year’s Conference is being held, for the first time, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  This venue should be a great backdrop for the conference and the Conference organizing committee has done a great job in getting everything ready.

The program is full and contains many relevant and insightful presentations.  The second issue of CLIMB should also be ready in time to present (and sell!) at the Conference.

So, get your registrations in by July 9th, or pay the full price - see you there!

Add comment July 3rd, 2012

All Fall Down

Veterans of the Spaceward’s Foundation Space Elevator Games have the pleasure of knowing Vern McGeorge.  He’s one of those guys who works tirelessly behind the scenes getting stuff done, getting stuff made, getting stuff fixed, so that the competitions can go on.  I have blogged about Vern’s contributions before, and that didn’t do him justice - he’s one of the good guys that just makes things happen.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across his first novel, All Fall Down, a story about (in Vern’s words):

When Col. Roberto di Vincente, driven to avenge the shooting of his wife by U.S. Marines, leads a paramilitary attack on the Space Elevator’s base platform anchored off the coast of Brazil, Marcus Gant, the deputy chief of security, is taken hostage along with most of Port Sheffield’s crew. Gant had hoped to live peacefully, far from the streets of Boston where his on-duty shooting of a child tore his family apart. When his boss is executed following a failed escape attempt, he is thrust into leadership of Port Sheffield’s nascent resistance movement.

Stephanie Petersen and the visiting VIPs, including the man di Vincente blames for the death of his wife, escape up the elevator during the attack. An enemy force, led by Major Eduardo Vieira, di Vincente’s ruthless second-in-command, follows in close pursuit. At Clarke Station, Stephanie is reunited with her estranged husband, Tom. Together they will make their stand.

Col. di Vincente intends to use the Space Elevator to lift small missiles high above the earth, giving his nuclear and biological weapons global reach. His goal is to coerce social justice from the temperate “haves” for the tropical “have-nots” who have been reduced to pariah status following a world-wide plague.

His financial backer, Daniel Falcao, and Major Vieira, plan to betray him and launch the missiles against major cities in the developed world so that Brazil can emerge from the resulting chaos as a world power.

Learning this, the President of the United States has set in motion Slam Dunk; simultaneous preemptive nuclear strikes against Port Sheffield and Clarke Station. Marcus, Stephanie, and Tom must race against time to prevent the destruction of the Space Elevator, the sacrifice of its crew, and the possible slaughter of two-billion people. 

Intrigued, I purchased the book on my Kindle (I love my Kindle - thank you wife!) and devoured it in two late-night sittings.  It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

And, to make things even better, Vern will be ’selling’ All Fall Down for free, at Amazon, on the Kindle, from July 4th through July 8th.

The book’s Amazon website is here.  Vern’s blog, Spark of Ideation can be found here.

Just a note about the content - the Space Elevator in this story is not a tensile structure (which current thinking dictates it must be) but rather more in the mold of the one described by Sir Arthur C. Clarke in his Fountains of Paradise.  Vern talks about why he chose this model and many other considerations in the book’s Afterword.  Vern does have some additional Space Elevator novels in the pipeline and, well, that’s a story for another post.

2 comments June 30th, 2012

“Getting to space on a thread…”

While reviewing some of the older Space Elevator Conference programs and trying to see if some of the presenters were still active in the SE arena, I ran across this 2007 paper by Major Jason Kent.

This paper, entitled “Getting to Space on a Thread - Space Elevator as an Alternative Access to Space” was a “Blue Horizons paper” written for the Center for Strategy and Technology for the Air War College.

Major Kent presented a couple of papers at the 2008 Space Elevator Conference and I remember having some very interesting discussions with him during one of the lunches.

Because a Space Elevator will allow such scalable, reliable (and relatively inexpensive) access to space, there is no question that it will be a very significant military asset to whoever controls it.  There is a viewpoint that if the world cooperatively builds a Space Elevator, then, perhaps, we can make it a ‘universal good’, much like, say, the Internet is.  Others (including me) are not so optimistic.

Regardless, it is very interesting to see a military evaluation of the Space Elevator and the article is (IMHO) well worth the read.

2 comments June 17th, 2012

The Return of the Kansas City Space Pirates

Followers of this blog and/or the Space Elevator Games are very familiar with the Kansas City Space Pirates.  Captain Brian Turner and his fellow team members competed in several of the Space Elevator Games - Power Beaming competitions and acquitted themselves very well.

They have a new challenge they want to meet and that is to break the record for longest continuous flight of an aircraft fueled solely by wireless power-beaming.  Several days ago, they issued this Press Release, detailing what their plans are.  Money quote from the Release:

This August the KC Space Pirates will take the next step in the development of laser powered flight and in the art of wireless power beaming. We will attempt to keep a one pound robotic aircraft flying for 2 full days (48 hours), nearly 4 times the previous world record…The date of this attempt is set to coincide with the International Space Elevator Consortium’s (www.isec.org) annual conference in August of this year.

The current record is held by LaserMotive, also a veteran (and prize-winner) of the Power-Beaming competition.   With NASA ending its support for the Power-Beaming competition, it’s good to see that the spirit of competing is alive and well.

More to come soon - bring it on!

Add comment June 6th, 2012

Space Elevator conference registration now open!

Registration is now open to attend the 2012 Space Elevator Conference.  Register prior to July 9th to take advantage of the “Early Bird Special” pricing!

As noted earlier, the conference this year will be held from August 25th through the 27th at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the first time in this venue and the first time that the conference has been organized by the International Space Elevator Consortium.

Lots of events and speakers are scheduled and, if the ‘early returns’ are any indication, this promises to be the best conference ever.

Make your plans now and we’ll see you there!

Add comment June 2nd, 2012

ISEC April, 2012 eNewsletter released

Hot off the press is the April, 2012 SEC eNewsletter.  Stories covered include the Space Elevator Conferences’s move to the Museum of Flight, ISEC’s new schedule of yearly events, announcements regarding the Call for Papers for both the Space Elevator Conference and the second issue of CLIMB, ISEC’s move to its new website address and announcements about the upcoming European and Japanese space elevator competitions.

So, check it out and, if you want to be put on the ISEC email list so that you will not miss any future issues (it’s free!), just visit the ISEC website and sign up.

Add comment April 28th, 2012

Space Elevator Conference moves to the Museum of Flight!

ISEC is very proud to announce that this year’s Space Elevator Conference, the first organized by ISEC, will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  Conference dates are August 25-27.

The official Press Announcement:

For 2012, the Space Elevator Conference moves to The Museum of Flight!

The International Space Elevator Consortium is proud to announce that the 2012 Space Elevator Conference will now be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  The conference dates remain the same, August 25th through August 27th, 2012, with the Family Science Fest being held on August 25th.  Come experience learning, brainstorming, and working together surrounded by an atmosphere of invention and discovery!  Conference and family science fest attendees will be stimulated and energized by the planes hanging from the Great Gallery glass ceiling or watching a jet take off from the Boeing Field runway.  This will be a fantastic new venue for the conference!

3-Day Technical Conference
The theme of this year’s technical conference is “Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator”.  There is still time to submit your abstracts and papers for the technical conference.  The abstract deadline has been extended to May 18th (the draft and final paper deadlines are still the same).  Abstracts and papers are coming in steadily and we want to be sure we have a great set of presentations for the technology, business, legal, and outreach sessions.

Family Science Fest

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 25th will also be held at the Museum of Flight.  This event is open to the public and is included in the Museum of Flight admission price.  The Family Science Fest includes Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, a youth robotics competition, exhibits from universities and science clubs, and much more.

Registration, Lodging, and More Info Coming Soon
More details of the conference technical program and the Family Science Fest will be posted on the conference website (http://spaceelevatorconference.org) in early May including registration, lodging, and other information as it becomes available.  Please note the the conference web site will be updated with a new look and feel the end of April.

The Space Elevator is one of the most magnificent Engineering projects ever conceived.  It promises abundant access to space and a multitude of benefits for humanity.  Come to the Conference and hear presentations and discussion with people working to make the Space Elevator a reality!

So, mark your calendars and make your reservations.  This Conference promises to be the most exciting ever!

2 comments April 24th, 2012

Electronic version of CLIMB now available

An electronic, pdf version of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, is now available.  For those of you who didn’t want to pay for the print version, you can purchase an electronic version for only $1.99.

Just visit the ISEC store and click on the PayPal button.

Volume 2 of CLIMB is well underway and we’re on track to release it at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (August 25-27).  And, speaking of the Space Elevator Conference, stay tuned because a major announcement about it is imminent!

Add comment April 17th, 2012

6 years? OMG, 6 years!!

Once again, all together now;

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Space Elevator Blog!
Happy birthday to you!

Really, six years.  I remember when I started this blog.  I was recovering from some fairly major surgery and was sitting at my computer, just poking around the ‘net, looking for something interesting to read.  I had just re-read Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise and wanted to know what was going on in the “Space Elevator Community”.  I found a few sites and several postings, but nothing that seemed to bring everything together.  I had authored a blog before, and so wasn’t new to the field, so I decided to start a “Space Elevator Blog”.  Being the creative guy that I am, I named it “The Space Elevator Blog”.

The idea of a Space Elevator continues to grow and I’m proud to say that the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is playing a leading role in this.  ISEC, along with the Japan Space Elevator Association and EuroSpaceward, are the leading proponents of this idea; pushing it forward, introducing new concepts and working towards that day when a Space Elevator a reality.

In keeping with tradition, I would list the highlights of the last 12 months as follows:

The 2011 Space Elevator Conference.  ISEC funded the visits of several Carbon nanotube (CNT) experts to the Conference.  All of them presented papers on the current ’state-of-the-art’ in CNT development.  We also heard our first inkling of a possible alternative to CNTs, that being Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNTs).  This substance, something which does not occur in nature, has 95% of the theoretical strength of CNTs.  Options are good!  The 2011 Conference also the introduction of its first ever “Family Day” where children were able to build Lego Climbers and enter them into a competition held at the Conference.  This idea was first fostered by the Japan Space Elevator Association and their annual LASER competition.

The inaugural issue of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, was published.  As someone who was thoroughly immersed in all the details of this project, I have a new-found understanding and respect for Journal editors.   It’s been a goal of ISEC to publish a Space Elevator Journal ever since it was founded and I’m glad that we have finally succeeded in this effort.  It should be a great marketing tool for the Community and is another step forward for us on the road to ’scientific respectability’ (or something like that).  The print edition can be found here and the eVersion will be available on our website in the next several days.

The Europeans held their first Space Elevator Games, 2011-EuSEC.  With these Games, we now have space-elevator related competitions being held in the United States, Japan and Europe.  Congratulations to those people at EuSEC who made this happen.  The 2012 EuSEC Games are already scheduled and will be the subject of a future post.

The Japan Space Elevator Association held another LASER and another JSETEC competition.  The Japanese are so, well, Japanese.  They start out small but continue to build and grow and, before you know it, are world leaders in the areas they decide to concentrate in.  I remember when I was on my ’second tour’, living and working in Saudi Arabia.  There were three of us, me (an American of course), a Brit and a Japanese national that hung around together.  Our conversations often revolved around business strategies and the Japanese guy used to tell us that “We Japanese are farmers; we till and cultivate and prepare and eventually get a solid, sustainable ‘crop’.  You Americans and Europeans are ’slash-and-burn’ guys, just looking for the quick buck and then you move on.’  There was a lot of truth in that statement…

The Space Elevator was given a two-page spread in the world-renowned publication, the National Geographic Magazine.  And, even more exciting, ISEC was mentioned as a ‘technical source’ for the article.  Their monthly circulation is in the neighborhood of 8.5 million copies, of which ~40% reside outside of the United States. This was truly a coup for ISEC - being mentioned in such a widely read and prestigious publication as National Geographic will pay us many dividends, now and down the road…

The University of Cincinnati and the Air Force Research Laboratory hosted the annual Nanotechnology Workshop on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.  I attended this workshop in 2010 and, while it was absolutely fascinating, I was disappointed to see so little emphasis placed on the specific strength properties of CNTs.  Almost all of the presentations dealt with the electrical properties of CNTs or infusing ceramics with CNTs to create novel, new materials or forming CNTs into unique structures, etc.  The 2011 Workshop, however, was a different beast altogether.  At least half of the presentations at least mentioned the specific strength properties of CNTs and a few of the presentations focused on this aspect entirely.  It seems that academia has finally turned its attention to this possibility and I think that only good things can come from it.  And, I was allowed to present the idea of a Strong Tether Competition to the attendees, something which I hope will bear fruit in the not-too-distant future…

The phoenix-like return of LiftPort.  They are now concentrating on promoting the idea of a Lunar Space Elevator.  It’s great to see that Michael Laine is still involved in the whole space elevator enterprise.  His name is the most-recognized one in the field.  Every time I put up a post which mentions his name, my readership spikes.

Other highlights include ISEC becoming an officially recognized 501c3 corporation, the initial release of Maurice Franklin’s Space Elevator Analysis Spreadsheet, the porting of the Space Elevator Pocketbook to the iPhone, being mentioned in the new coffee-table book The Cult of Lego, Jerome Pearson’s EDDE project finally getting some government funding, Japan’s Obayashi Corporation announcing their intention to build a Space Elevator by the year 2050 and the release of the 2011 ISEC Theme Poster.

Disappointments include the lack of progress in the Strong Tether Competition, no ISEC report for 2011 (although the 2012 report on Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator is well on its way) and the very sad passing of Gaylen Hinton, the first ever recipient of an Honorable Mention in the Artsutanov Prize competition.

What will the next 12 months bring?  Well, it’s fairly safe to say that there will be a 2012 Space Elevator Conference, we will have Space Elevator related competitions in the US, Japan and Europe, we should see the second issue of CLIMB and the 2012 ISEC Report.  And, I’m sure that there will be many other developments that will be a surprise…

Stay tuned!

(5 year anniversary post here.  4 year anniversary post here.  3 year anniversary post here.  2 year anniversary post here.  1 year anniversary post here.)

2 comments April 1st, 2012

2012 JSETEC is in the works

This coming August, the Japan Space Elevator Association  (JSEA) will be holding it’s fourth annual JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical and Engineering Competition).  Each year, the JSEA gets more and more ambitious with its competition and this year, they are aiming for a racecourse more than a kilometer high!

Planning details are still sketchy, but I have received the following additional information from Devin Jacobson of the JSEA:

The next space elevator competition here looks like it will be the first week of August 8/1-8/5.  We will probably have a narrower/thicker tether 25mm x 1.2mm, and plan to get up past 1km this time.  There is quite a bit of activity due to the recent report from Obayashi Consortium that they plan to build a space elevator by 2050.

We will welcome any teams from the US that want to participate, so I will pass on the competition details once they are fixed.  Sounds like end of June or July will need to be the final decision to come or not. Please feel free to pass the information on as well.  Again there is no prize money but participation fee should also not be too much, probably cost much more just for the trip to Japan :)

If you are interested in participating,  you can contact Devin directly at devinjacobson [at] jsea.jp.

The JSEA also recently held a workshop for JSETEC, 2012.

Previous posts about the 2009 competition here, the 2010 competition here and the 2011 competition here.  There are also several other posts related to these games on this blog - just key in “JSETEC” in the blog’s search window to view them.

Congratulations again to the JSEA - we look forward to an even bigger and better JSETEC this year!

1 comment March 26th, 2012

Mechanic Panic

A new game, Mechanic Panic, has been issued for Apple platforms (iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone) with the Space Elevator as a backdrop and, guess, what, the Space Elevator gets destroyed - how original!  From the game description:

“A catastrophic explosion has rocked the world’s first Space Elevator. Thankfully you’re on the job! As the fearless mechanic, jump as high as you can to save all the people in peril. The environment around you is crumbling. Beware of the many hazards that will come crashing down.”

For a limited time, the game is free, so if you’re a fan of the Space Elevator and an Apple aficionado, head on over to the iTunes link to download it.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke once famously said that the Space Elevator would be built “50 years after people stopped laughing about it.”  Perhaps a more modern take on this is that a Space Elevator will be built “20 years after people stop joking about it crashing”…

2 comments March 23rd, 2012

EDDE gets funded!

Most anyone in the space elevator community knows who Jerome Pearson is.  He’s one of the people who independently re-invented the idea of Space Elevator, wrote a seminal paper on the subject and provided much of the rigorous engineering and mathematical underpinnings that such a structure would need.

He attended the 2010 Space Elevator Conference (along with Yuri Artsutanov) and gave a presentation on his “Electro-Dynamic Debris Eliminator” (EDDE) idea, an idea for a low-cost solution to getting rid of large pieces of space debris.

I am happy to report that his idea has now received funding from NASA to begin serious studies and experimentation for this effort.  You can read more about that here.  And you can visit the website of his company, Star Research, here, and his page on the EDDE project here.

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that the inaugural issue of our space elevator Journal CLIMB very proudly included a paper written by Jerome on the EDDE project.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this initial project is successful and leads ultimately to a solution for the Space Debris problem that is of increasing concern to everyone who pays attention to these things.

2 comments March 22nd, 2012


When the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) was first formed, the only website available with the ISEC acronym was http://www.isec.info.  Much later on, http://www.isec.org became available and we snatched it up.  You can visit either URL and see the ISEC website, but our internal/external email addresses have always been isec.info, not isec.org.  This has been due to the vagaries of Google email and our own internal procrastination to ‘bite the bullet’ to favor one URL over the other.

We are now finally transitioning our email to the isec.org address.  These new email addresses are now active and the isec.info email addresses we have used in the past are being phased out.

So, the upshot of this all is this - if you want to contact ISEC or anyone in ISEC, you will need to start using the following email addresses:

  • Ted Semon - President and Director (ted.semon@isec.org)
  • Peter Swan - Vice-President and Director (pete.swan@isec.org)
  • Martin Lades - Secretary and Director (martin.lades@isec.org)
  • Skip Penny - Treasurer and Director (skip.penny@isec.org)
  • Ben Shelef - Director and Technical Pillar lead (ben.shelef@isec.org)
  • Markus Klettner - Director (markus.klettner@isec.org)
  • Bryan Laubscher - Director (bryan.laubscher@isec.org)
  • Ben Jarrell - Legal Pillar lead (ben.jarrell@isec.org)
  • Matt Gjertsen - Public Relations Pillar lead (matt.gjertsen@isec.org)
  • David Horn - Conferences Chairman (david.horn@isec.org)
  • CLIMB - The Space Elevator Journal (climb@isec.org)
  • Membership services (membership@isec.org)
  • Customer Service (customerservice@isec.org)

All other ISEC email addresses are going to be phased out in the next few weeks, so please, update your address books.  If you try to send an email to an isec.info email address after that time, you’ll get a polite email informing you that the old addresses no longer work and that you have to use the new ones…

And, if you want to talk about something related to ISEC, please feel free to email me at ted.semon@isec.org.

Thank you!

Add comment March 21st, 2012

Some truly sad news…

I have just found out that Gaylen Hinton, the first person to be awarded an “Honorable Mention” in the Artsutanov Prize competition and a contributor to Volume 1 of CLIMB, has recently passed away after a long bout with cancer. Gaylen’s online Obituary can be found here.  It’s fascinating reading and just goes to show how so many times we know so little about our fellow human beings…

The last time I heard from Gaylen was several months ago; we were working on the final edits to one of his contributions to CLIMB.  He apologized to me for being tardy in his response saying that he had been diagnosed with “terminal cancer”.  As a cancer survivor myself, I do have some small understanding of what he was going through, though I’ve been much luckier than he was.

Gaylen was never afraid to ruffle feathers - indeed, his Honorable Mention paper talked about his take on ‘misconceptions’ regarding Space Elevator thought and development.  Gaylen passed away before Volume 1 of CLIMB was published so he never saw the final product, but he did know that two of his articles had been included, so we have that as a small consolation.

RIP Gaylen - you will be sorely missed by our community.

(Picture thumbnaiil is of Gaylen being congratulated by Yuri Artsutanov on being awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Artsutanov Prize competition.  This picture was taken at the 2010 Space Elevator Conference held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington.  Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version of the picture.)

2 comments March 20th, 2012

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