So, the 2010 EuroSpaceward conference is over – it sure went by quickly. It was a very enjoyable conference and Markus Klettner, the Executive Director of EuroSpaceward deserves a lot of credit for the work he did in organizing this event. Dr. Vessilin Shanov remarked to me at the end of the first day that this conference “keeps getting better each year” and I can only agree. Saturday’s presentations were all about CNTs and the state-of-the-art in their development while Sunday was focused specifically on Space Elevator topics. The synergy between the two sessions and their speakers was wonderful to see. Space Elevator people are obviously critically interested in the status of CNT development while the CNT theorists and developers were able to see what “the dreamers” (and I include myself in that group) want to do with the fruits of their efforts.
I enjoyed all of the presentations, but a couple stood out in my mind. First was the presentation by Dr. Yakobsen. I think his theoretical insights as to how/why CNTs actually start growing and continue growing is crucial in understanding how to make them long/strong enough for our needs. A second particularly noteworthy presentation (IMHO, of course) was Dr. Martin Lades’ presentation on Project CLAVIS – a new, European initiative on the study of CNTs. One can only hope that they succeed in getting this project off the ground. Third was Dr. Nicola Pugno’s presentation on ‘self-healing’ CNT tethers. Being able to actually build this self-healing capability into a Space Elevator tether may prove to be critical to it actually succeeding. The final presentation which I thought particularly noteworthy was ISEC’s own Dr. Peter Swan’s summarization of his group’s study of Space Debris and the mitigation strategies that must be built into the design of Space Elevator to deal with this hazard. Dr. Swan’s efforts are not only important for the Space Elevator community in general, of course, but this study was the very first “Red Team” study produced by ISEC – giving our “official position” on this topic. It’s something we all can refer to in the future when the naysayers and other skeptics throw questions/comments such as “Well, what are you going to do about space junk?” “It’s going to blow your Space Elevator to hell!” “You can’t avoid it!” at us. We can now refer to this study and definitively say to them; “Look, it appears that one, small segment (LEO) will be subject to debris strikes every 10 days. We’ll build in repair capabilities to deal with it. It’s not a critical problem.” If they still argue, we can show them the figures that Dr. Swan’s team came up with. His team’s study satisfies an overall goal of ISEC – taking away reasons people can say “No” to the Space Elevator.
You did us proud, Dr. Swan, thank you!
One last picture thumbnail to share with you. On the left is Akira Tsuchida and on the right is Dr. Martin Lades. Both are well know in the Space Elevator community. Akira gave Sunday’s presentation on a Japan roadmap for building the Space Elevator. They now have their ‘estimated operational date’ as 2050 (twenty years later than they had previously predicted – mostly due to their opinion as to the state-of-the-art of CNT development). This roadmap is going to be updated every year until 2017. It’s too long to go into now, but part of his presentation was about toilets on a Space Elevator Space station and how they are being tested out in an orphanage in Mongolia (really!). The discussion about this initiative was absolutely priceless – you had to be here to really appreciate it. Akira also headed up the E-T-C team that competed in the 2007 Space Elevator Games and is famous for, among other things, selling his car (a Mercedes, no less) to help finance the project. He is definitely a true believer and is a genuinely nice guy.
And on the right is Dr. Martin Lades. Martin is one of those ‘behind-the scenes’ guys that just helps makes things work. He was part of the Kansas City Space Pirates team that competed in the Space Elevator Games. He is on the Board of Directors for ISEC and is also a key member in trying to get Project CLAVIS up and running.
So, if you weren’t here this year, you definitely missed a very worthwhile event. I have tried to summarize the presentations in this blog, but I know that it is only a poor representation of what actually went on. I would urge all of my readers to consider coming to the 2011 EuroSpaceward Conference – thank you again Markus!
(As always, click on the photo thumbnail to see a full size version of the picture)