Touching the future.
That’s what I was able to do tonight, actually touch the future. Even though the tether brought by MIT’s Delta-X team was not the winner in tonight’s Tether competition, it represents, IMHO, the future. We get excited when reading articles about how carbon nanotubes are now “1 cm long” or “2 cm long”, etc., but Delta-X brought a tether, made purely out of carbon nanotubes, that was 2 METERS long. Stephen Steiner, head of the Delta-X team gave it to me to study and to handle.
I had a feeling of awe while doing so, truly I did. This is the future. Yes, carbon nanotubes are not yet equal to other technology. And yes, it will take some time. And yes, it represents the future.
I’ll post some good close-up shots of the Delta-X carbon nanotube tether tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what they bring next year.
Well that was anticlimactic…
Astroaraneae and Delta-X both mounted their tethers on the machine (this was after the judges determined that both tethers met the weight and length requirement). Pressure was applied and almost immediately the Delta-X tether parted – the knot slipped. Delta X had a second tether they mounted, but this was just for show. It only weighed 1.3 grams (as opposed to the Astroaraneae tether of 2 grams) and all were sure it would not stand a chance. Pressure was applied and the Delta-X tether parted almost immediately.
Then Ken Davidian, the NASA rep for the Centennial Challenges, announced that the Astroaraneae tether would now be competing against the house tether for the Prize money ($500K). However, at that point, Michael Remington, team leader of Astroaraneae, took the microphone and announced they would NOT be competing against the house tether – they forfeited their chance to win the prize. They said their goal in coming here to was to prove they still had the strongest tether in the world (but not 50% stronger than a COTS tether – the house tether) and that they were “still champions” of all the teams. Obviously they felt like they had no chance to win, but it was a major disappointment to me (and I’m sure other) to not be able to see how far the state of the art has advanced.
So, no winner in the Tether challenge this year and I think I can speak for everyone in the audience in saying that the out come was very disappointing, both in what it was and in the way it happened.
The $500K prize money rolls over to next year – next year’s Tether Challenge purse will now be $900K (the $200K rolling over from 2006 plus the $300K rolling over from this year and the $400K allocated to $2008).
Let’s hope for a better competition and better results next year…
The weather looks like it will clear up tomorrow. The crane operator is scheduled to arrive at noon and, hopefully, we’ll start having climbs shortly after that. Whether or not this will constitute the entire climbing competition will depend on how many runs we can get in.
The Light Racers competition just finished. The only team to traverse the entire race course in an “official run” was the Kansas City Space Pirates and for this, they won a prize purse of $2,500.00. The McGill team also travelled the entire course (and in the best time), but it wasn’t an official run.
The tether pull is getting to start in the next several minutes. As soon as the results are in, I’ll post them.
The Spaceward Light Racers competition is now happening. This is lots of fun and has been generating great crowd enthusiasm. I’ll be posting several videos of this over the rest of the day.
Here is a practice run by the Technology Tycoons Light Racer. It did pretty well.
And here is a last-minute entry from McGill University.
Yes, both of these teams also entered the Climber / Power-Beaming competition. There are several other entries too, and will be posted soon.
There will be no climbs today. The weather is , unfortunately, as forecast; extremely windy, not to mention cold and rainy. Let’s hope that tomorrow is better.
The Light Racers competition is scheduled to start at 10:00am. Several of the teams are here, and the competition is indoors, so this should occur on time.
The other tether team (Delta-X out of MIT) has arrived, so we WILL have a tether team competition today, Delta-X vs. Astroaraneaea, with the winner to face the house tether, starting at 5:00pm (also indoors so also not weather-dependent).
So that’s the scoop – Stay tuned and I’ll keep you up-t0-date…