Daily Archives: October 10, 2007

UBC-Snowstar gives us a look

I received this media advisory today from Damir Hot, the Team Captain of UBC Snowstar:

UBC space elevator team unveils solar-powered prototype for $500,000 NASA competition

What:   Media preview of space elevator climber prototype
When:   Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, 9 a.m. – Noon ONLY
Where:  UBC Physics and Astronomy Extracurricular Projects Laboratory Rm122 Hennings Building, 6224 Agricultural Rd., UBC Vancouver
For a map and directions, visit

Signs will be posted to lead media from UBC Bookstore to the lab.

UBC Snowstar, a team of UBC engineering physics students, will unveil to the media the latest prototype of their solar-powered space elevator robot, set to compete in the 2007 NASA Beam Power Challenge.

Held in the Greater Salt Lake City Area, Utah, during Oct. 19-21, the NASA competition challenges entrants to design, build and race a space elevator “climber” capable of efficiently lifting a payload 400 feet (120 metres) straight up a cable using only power “beamed” from a remote source on the ground. Climbers must reach a minimum speed of 6.6 feet (two metres) per second to qualify.

UBC Snowstar has been featured in The New York Times and on CNN. They will compete with more than 20 international teams for the US $500,000 grand prize and an opportunity to revolutionize space technology. UBC is one of only two teams that have qualified to compete in all three NASA Beam Power Challenges, meeting performance benchmarks that double each year. For example, the 2006 competition required teams to lift a payload 200 feet (60 metres) at a minimum speed of 3.3 feet (one metre) per second.

“Currently, the cost of launching a space shuttle is so high partly due to the amount of fuel the shuttle carries in order to propel itself into space,” says Snowstar team captain Damir Hot. “Using solar or other beamed power sources to efficiently fuel space vehicles could be the key to eventually providing space transport at significantly lower financial and environmental costs.”

NB: UBC Snowstar will be available to display the space elevator on Thursday, Oct. 11 ONLY. Also available will be a DVD that provides footage of UBC’s solar-powered climber in action. Please contact Lorraine Chan to confirm attendance. Space is limited.

Photos of the climber are available at www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/download/

For more information on the competition, visit http://centennialchallenges.nasa.gov/cc_challenges.htm#beampower



Lorraine Chan
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.3213
Cell: 604.828.3867
E-mail: lorraine[DOT]chan[AT]ubc.ca



The press advisory carries a link to a zip file of photos (4 in all).  I’ve reproduced two of them in this email.  One is of the UBC Snowstar climber in action while the other is a team photo.  Click on them for a larger version or follow the link and download the photos.  Both of these photos are courtesy of UBC-Snowstar.

Winnow, winnow, winnow…

I’ve heard from several more teams (Space Elevator Team at UT, Recens, Team Rambo I / Team Telsa, Queens Space Elevator Racing Team, Lone Star and MIT) that they are NOT competing this year in the Climber / Power-Beaming competition (MIT will still be competing in the Tether competition).

So, this is what I know so far:

Teams definitely in:

#230 – McGill  Space Elevator Team (possibly in conjunction with Punkworks – more on this later) – Searchlights or Microwave

#234 – Kansas City Space Pirates – Solar

#235 – LaserMotive – Laser

#241 – USST – Laser

#253 – UBC Snowstar – Solar

Teams definitely out:

#222 – Starlifters

#226 – MIT Space Elevator Team (again Climber / Power-Beaming only – Tether team will play)

#228 – Team Telsa

#236 – Andromeda Connection

#239 – M Climber

#240 – Lone Star

#242 – Queens Space Elevator Racing Team

#244 – Recens

#245 – Space Elevator Team at UT (University of Tennessee)

Teams I have not heard from:

#221 – Space Invaders

#225 – Team Zero G

#237 – University of Alberta Space Elevator Racing Team

#238 – Uplifting Experience

#243 – Lite Won (Technology Tycoons) – Last year’s second best finisher

#246 – University of Idaho Engineering

#249 – E-T-C (I’m pretty sure they’re playing but haven’t heard from them definitively yet – they might be in transit from Japan)

#250 – Centaurus

I’m disappointed, of course, that not all of the teams can make it, but I’m especially disappointed that neither of the two European entries (Team Telsa and Recens) will be here.  Recens was cursed with tremendously bad luck last year and the Space Elevator Gods should have put this situation aright.  I guess it was not to be.

I’m fairly sure that at least 3-4 entrants from the “Don’t know” list will be playing too, but I won’t move them to the “Definitely in” list until I’m “Definitely sure” 🙂

Both teams listed for the Tether competition (Astroaranaea and MIT) WILL be there.

As I get more replies or information from other sources, I will update this list.