THIS is what I came to see.
USST made a total of 5 runs. All were spectacular. None, unfortunately, were fast enough to claim the prize. Their fastest run was 54 seconds. We’re not sure exactly how quick that was as we need to measure the ribbon. This will be done tomorrow. But we’re sure that the ribbon was not 108 meters, and therefore there was no way they could have met the 2 m/s requirement.
But the runs were spectacular. They actually picked up speed in a few runs the higher they climbed. It looks like they have some work to do on their tracking software, but I’m sure they’re going to be taking care of that.
So, unfortunately, the results were like last year – USST was just a few seconds too slow to claim the prize. But they greatly increased their speed over last year (approximately double) and are fulfilling NASA’s and Spaceward’s goal of advancing the state of the art.
Laser-powered climbs and carbon nanotube tethers were at the 2007 Space Elevator Games – how cool is that!!??!!
I don’t know how much blogging I’ll be doing over the next few days. I’m off to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – to fulfill a long-held ambition of mine. If I have any time, I’ll upload some of the videos and link to them. But I may not be able to blog again until I’m home on the weekend.
Either way, I’ll be sure and post the rest of the footage I’ve taken.
Thanks for reading…
USST’s first attempt (which successfully climbed all the way to the top) ran in about 96 seconds. They are going to try it one more time.
They will need to beat 50-55 seconds (exact time dependant on remaining ribbon length) to win the Prize.
F L A S H U P D A T E ! ! !
There will be one more attempt tonight – USST is setting up again right now.
Safety is now a concern. People know that this ribbon might break. USST knows that if this happens, it may damage their climber, perhaps irrepairibly. Nevertheless, they’ve decided to go for it – and who can blame them. They’ve been working for this prize for, literally, years, and it would be a shame to have to turn back now.
Special procedures are being put into place to minimize the amount of personnel near the ribbon while setting up for this run.
There is obviously something wrong with this ribbon or the conditions here have been too much for it. It’s too early to know what happened – obviously Spaceward will be sending the ribbon back to Siegling for a failure analysis. You’ll note that, in addition to the break, there is fraying along the edges. Perhaps this indicates where maximum stress was being applied (during the ribbons constant twisting in the wind) and is the cause of the break. But that’s for the engineers to decipher.
So, no promises for a successful climb, or even a climb at all, but another attempt is being made.
I’ll keep everyone posted.
Snakebit, snakebit, snakebit…
USST had mounted their Climber on the ribbon. They were getting ready to start their run when the ribbon snapped AGAIN, this time from the top (the last time was from the bottom).
The picture shows the USST climber with the snapped ribbon draped over it. Fortunately no one was hurt.
We don’t know what happened. This Siegling ribbon is rated at 4,500 lbs. The maximum pressure put on it was 500-1,000 pounds. Maybe the ribbon is old or defective. Maybe the constant twisting, twisting, twisting it underwent over this last 9 days proved too much. Maybe its something else entirely (sabotage from Skronk & Greezle?)
Whatever it is, it looks the competition is over for now. Spaceward is going to get together with the NASA representative and probably the USST team captain and decide what to do.
Major, major bummer…
As new information appears, I’ll keep you all posted.
Two more unsuccessful attempts.
The Technology Tycoons Climber did not make it to the top this time. The wind caught it and flipped it on it’s side when it was most of the way up – you can clearly see this in the picture.
The Kansas City Space Pirates DID make it all the way, but they did so in an unofficial time of 1 minute, 25 seconds. They needed to be less than a minute to have a chance.
So we’re down to one attempt left – that of USST. We’ll have to see if they have fixed their climber and can really take a run at this.
The Kansas City Space Pirates just made their attempt, but did not meet with success. Their climber got about half-way up (perhaps a bit more) but then it stalled. After they took it down, I overhead their captain, Brian Turner, comment “we had something wired wrong” and they were working to fix it.
The picture is of their climber once back on the ground.
Spaceward personnel have also pulled the trolley (the mechanism at the top holding the ribbon, anti-rotation wire and belay line) down to examine it and will be putting it back up shortly.
The Technology Tycoons are up next.
0-2 today – let’s hope for better luck soon…
Sometimes I think we’re snakebit.
The ClimberRibbon snapped just as the Kansas City Space Pirates were getting ready to mount their climber.
One picture shows the cable wafting in the breeze while the other shows the snapped end of it.
The stop plate came rattling down the cable and fell to the ground – no one was underneath it, but it made it abundantly clear why the inner circle of the launch area is Hard hat only.
USST’s climber failed to move on the ribbon. Laser power was applied, but nothing happened. I talked (very briefly) with one of the USST team members who told me the initial, preliminary read is an issue with their solar cells.
I don’t know what it is, but they only have one shot left.
KC Space Pirates are up next and are now moving their equipment into position.
Here are the weather conditions we have today, practically ideal. Crystal clear skies (though we’re supposed to get a few clouds later) and nearly dead calm.
Here is a video of E-T-C’s last run last night. As with the previous runs, it moved very little (if at all) on the ribbon – but a noble try nonethless.
I asked Akira Tsuchida, team leader of E-T-C, why he thought the climber failed to ascend. He told me that after his team had viewed UBC’s climber shaking and losing some pieces, they added additional bracing to their climber. This made it too heavy to ascend (the first time around). They tried some additional climber and software modifications this time, but still no luck.
And, one thing I have to mention about Akira, this guy is the personification of dedication. He actually sold his Mercedes to help finance the construction of his team’s climber. The bicycle he bought to replace it was stolen, too, so he just had no luck in that regard.
Thank you coming Akira and the entire E-T-C team. Everyone enjoyed your company and your good spirits and your willingness to talk to anyone and everyone. Here’s hoping that your entry for next year will be a winner!
We just finished our all-hands meeting (now greatly diminished as most people have gone home).
3 teams have stayed to make a try at the Prize; Technology Tycoons, KC Space Pirates and USST. Each team will make two runs today. The schedule is:
12:00 KC Space Pirates
1:00 Technology Tycoons
2:00 KC Space Pirates
3:00 Technology Tycoons
Let’s hope for some great runs today – I will keep everyone posted…
Here is a video of USST’s attermpt to win the Prize money last night. It didn’t succeed because of an issue they had with the climber, but it has to rank as one of the coolest videos ever.
USST uses an Infrared laser, something normally invisible to the human eye. However, it shows up just fine on something equipped with infrared-seeing capabilities. Most any device that has a “night vision” option can see this and, fortunately, my camcorder has it too. So you can actually see the laser-beam itself – absolutely and monumentally cool.
There are a couple of chunks within the video when I switch my camcorder back to “normal” vision, just to see what I could see – not much as you’ll find out when you watch this. And the climber itself is drastically overexposed with this “laser-vision”.
Nevertheless, this easily ranks as the cooliest clip this video rookie has ever shot.
USST assures me that they have the problem taken care of – let’s hope they rock today.
THIS is the future…