KC Space Pirates March, 2009 update

The latest from Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates:

Well I have not been sending out updates because “next week” we were going to have a finalized date for the competition. It’s been going that way for 5 weeks now. The date is still listed as tentative. But since everyone watching closely for leaking information knows the date I figure that I can tell my friends.

But the tentative location is really rather exciting and I would hate missing having fun chatting about it. The date is the last week in April or only 7 weeks from today. We also are trying to get in some laser test time before then to give the system a final shake down so we have only a few weeks to get it all together.

But the super cool site is KSC as in Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

If it were not for the trees you could see the Vehicle Assembly Building where the space shuttle gets it’s oil changed every 10 million or so miles. The site is a “for real”, high power, Kilometer long laser test range. The part where Spaceward wants to stand it on end and hook it to a helicopter is creating a lot extra paperwork and that is why it is still listed as tentative. It also happens that such a place would be used for some of the secret kind of testing and we want to drag in about a bunch people, the press, and show what we are doing to the whole world. I can understand that causing some pause.

I did get to go down and check it out first hand. It is not real spectator friendly but then the heightened laser safety standards are not real spectator friendly anyway. If you want to come watch, there is an RV/baseball park about 2 miles south. If you get bored you can hit Coco beach only a couple miles further south. But there is a rumor floating around that we might get on NASA TV or at least be streamed on the Internet.  That will make it all the way back to most of your living rooms. And if nothing else, there is always Ted’s excellent spaceelevatorblog.com. (Thanks, Brian…)

I also went to Photonics West Trade show in late January to try to pick up a sponsor to build a high dollar part that we want real bad. 

It was interesting at the show as more and more of the vendors know what I am talking about when I say I am working on the Space Elevator competition. I still mostly get the polite “Is this guy crazy?” blank smile but then that is generally what I expect. After all, it’s not like I would take us seriously at first glance either. You have to build up to this thing or it might give you whiplash.

Prior to this date announcement, the team and myself had been focusing on improving our system’s questionable weak points and kinda ignoring the stuff that was no big deal but just needed to get done. So now we are buried in grunt work. Stuff we have planned but have not actually got done. Everything from laser stops to spare parts to trailer improvements. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you say things like “Wow, this is a lot of work!” and “Wow, this is a lot of money!”

On a personal note. My neighborhood is getting sewers put in and the spring rains have turned half of my yard and most of the streets into mud. When it’s dry, there is dust everywhere. It’s tracking inside and it’s been a real pain to keep the optics clean. I also slipped on the ice a week ago and cracked a rib. Not a big deal, just hurts whenever I have to lift something.

That’s all for now. Looks like I need to go lift something that we just spent a bunch of money on. 😉

Talk to ya later

Brian Turner
Team Captain
KC Space Pirates

Yeah, what he said…