Latest updates on the Strong Tether Challenge

Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation, organizers of the Space Elevator Games, arrived in Seattle / Redmond today.  He tells me that there will be at least two contestants, and possibly a third, in this year’s Strong Tether Challenge.  All of the contestants are bringing entries made out of carbon nanotubes.

This is über-mega-cool.  In 2007, there was a single carbon nanotube entry from team DeltaX, a collaboration between MIT and Nanocomp.  In 2009, there was another single carbon nanotube entry from Shizuoka University in Japan.  Neither one performed very well.  The Delta-X entry slipped at the knot tied in the loop (very high tech ) while the Shizuoka entry, a ‘tape’ formed from nanotubes held solely by Van der Walls forces, broke at a very low level.

But that was the past and this is now the future.  With two, maybe three entries, we could see some very good performances.  The lack of a material strong enough is the single biggest obstacle in the way of building a Space Elevator.  Having some sort of breakthrough demonstrated at this year’s Space Elevator Games – Strong Tether Challenge would be nothing short of monumental.

Plus, if there are any winners, there is a cool $2 Million dollar prize purse, courtesy of NASA, to be awarded.

So, stay tuned.  Despite a last-minute glitch, we’re still hopeful of broadcasting the competition live on uStream.  Details will be posted here (and on Twitter) as soon as they are available.

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