Testing and more testing…

First a quick status update.  Wednesday’s problem with the steel cable snapping was caused by a pulley failure.  Once this pulley failed, it sheared the cable.  This failure halted operations for the day so that all the relevant parties could get together and decide what happened and how to fix it.  The pulley was rated for the load, but evidentally the very high spin rate of the pulley, with the load it was carrying, caused it to fail.  A much more beefed up pulley should take care of this issue.  Other than that, Wednesday’s testing of the raceway setup went very well.  Over at www.spaceelevatorgames.org, the official site of the Games, there are more details about this.

Today, Thursday, we began laser testing with the laser provided by TRUMPF.  This also went very well.  The Kansas City Space Pirates team were the guinea pigs in this testing.  It took time to work out exactly what should be tested, how it should be tested, what the procedures should be for ‘laser protocol’, etc.  The end result was that the laser system performed flawlessly and the Space Pirates system performed at a very high level too.   The Space Pirates passed all of their tests save one, a stress test which will have their system handle the full-power (8 KW) laser feed from TRUMPF and do so for a length of time simulating how long they would need it to send their climber up the kilometer long cable.  This will be done first-thing tomorrow morning.  Once that is completed, the other teams here, ready to go, will also do their laser testing.  Team LaserMotive also underwent laser testing and passed a less-stringent test (they did not have their full-power laser system onsite), so it was a good day all around…

The first picture (above) is of an all-hands meeting held before testing began on Wednesday.  Everyone who was involved in any way was required to attend this meeting.  As you can see, it is quite a crowd.

The second picture (above) is of the helicopter we used.  It is an S-58 and is supplied by Aris Helicopters. 

The third picture (also above) is of the winch which holds the steel cable that the Climbers will be ascending/descending.  This cable will be anchored on one end (the ground end) by the winch and on the other end (the up-in-the-air end) by the helicopter.  The winch is the more active partner of the two; paying out and reeling in the cable as necessary.

And, the last two pictures are of the local area.  The first is of a Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia).  These trees grow in the desert here and are starkly beautiful.  They can be seen all along the highway here in the Mojave desert.

And finally, this last picture is a small portion of the enormous number of windmills in this area (the Tehachapi area).  I am told that here in Tehachapi is where wind farms were started in the US.  They’re amazing to see, both in their size and the sheer numbers of them around – there have to be several hundreds of them.

As always, click on any of the picture thumbnails for a larger version of the picture.

More tomorrow…