Looking for a few good teams…

I received this email from Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates.  It’s pretty self-explanatory…

The dust has settled from the failed attempt to schedule the games for this fall. I will give a recap of how we got here.

A few months after the last games USST was informed that they would not be allowed to enter the games this time around. Turns out that the prize monies are reserved for US citizens. This was not a new rule but how would you tell a US team from a non US team? The rules said that the team captain had to be a US citizen. USSTs official captain was just a figurehead to meet that requirement. I will let you decide for yourselves if this is all fair or not. Personally I would rather compete to be the best in the world.

I do however have a bias. The KC Space Pirates were sharing laser expenses with USST. Also the cost of running the competition is divided among the teams. With USST gone our costs jump by $30,000 to $50,000. That was more than I thought we could handle. With only 1 competitor there really is not a competition. So the competition was delayed to give USST time to figure out a way. A wide array of options were explored. In May USST dropped out graciously.

The costs were just too high. I asked Spaceward to work on lowering the costs. A new venue was found up in Washington state that was close to the helicopter. This would lower costs significantly. Spaceward got a preliminary OK from the venue and I set about raising the funds needed. Amazingly I got pledges for the more than $50,000 we needed in just 2 weeks. But the time needed to find the venue and raise the money left little lead time for everything else to come together. We needed official approval from NASA the venue and TRUMPF to proceed.

An unfortunate snag was hit causing another 2+ week delay in the process of getting all the paperwork together and that was enough to push past fall and into winter. It’s not prudent to hold an outdoor event that requires mild weather in the winter in Washington state. So that leaves us with Spring 2011.

But there is still a cloud of doubt over the competition. Most of the pledges I received were conditional on fall 2010. So I still don’t know if we can raise the money and I don’t know if TRUMPF will still be willing to provide a laser. We also don’t know if even LaserMotive will stick around that long.

What we need is a few more teams to enter the competition. That will lower the costs and put the predictability back into the competition.

This has put me in the rather odd position of trying to recruit teams to compete with us. The threat of winning less money is balanced by the high cost of raising the money needed without additional teams.

I am even going so far as to offer help to new teams to help them up the steep learning curve of the competition. This offer is in exchange for a cut of their prize. Remember, we are pirates after all.

The altruistic motivations that provided the resources to run the competition in the past are substantially less this round. Mainly because the success of the competition has shown that power beaming works largely as predicted and is only currently practical for a few applications. The big motivators of cheap Space Access and the Space Elevator are firmly located in the future world of better lasers and bigger budgets. I think that both of those are coming.

But without new teams bringing in new innovation and resources the competition may not happen at all.

So the KC Space Pirates are on a recruiting drive. If you think you have what it takes, want to go where few have gone before, and have at least some kind of budget, contact me.

Brian Turner
KC Space Pirates

So, the gauntlet has been thrown – any takers?

3 thoughts on “Looking for a few good teams…

  1. Muhamed Semiz

    I came up with a new concept to access space by climbing up. What do you suggest would be the right path to have it processed by the experts so we can see if it is easier to built it with today’s technology then proposed space elevator?
    Concept is patented under US patent number 7770332 and can be seen on US Patent Office web page

  2. Ted Semon Post author

    I only briefly looked at your patent, so can’t comment in detail on it. At first glance it reminds me of the Spaceshaft project (spaceshaft.org) – are you familiar with it? One of the issues that has been brought up with that is that the inventor wants to fill up his inflatable cubes with helium – but has been unable to respond (to my knowledge) to the issue of helium leakage.

    Where are you located? If you are in the US, you might want to consider coming to the next Space Elevator conference (Aug 12-14). On the last day of the conference, there is typically a ‘Shotgun science’ section where people can present ‘different’ ideas to an audience of scientists and scientific-thinking people for criticism – just a thought.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Muhamed Semiz

    Thank you for your comment and a very good advice. I am located in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina so I do not think I will be able to attend Space Elevator conference in August.

    Please shoot one question on my behalf regarding this idea if you attend the Shotgun science section. At this stage the audience and the venue you mentioned are just what I am looking for.

    Best regards,


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