And, catching up with another old item…

In early August of last year, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) held their third annual JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition) event.  16 teams competed in this event, an event that had, at the highest point, a nearly 600 meter long ‘race-course’.  Just recently, JSEA posted their English-language version video summary of the competition.  You can find it at this JSEA website page (the top version is in Japanese, the bottom one is in English).

Watching this video, I had a very definitive feeling of Déjà vu vis-à-vis the NASA/Spaceward Space Elevator Games.  Yes, I know, there was a lot that was different between the two competitions.  In the 2009 Space Elevator Games, the Climbers were powered by Lasers while in all of the JSETEC competitions the Climbers were battery powered.  And in the Space Elevator Games, the tether was held up by a crane, or, in 2009, by a helicopter while the Japanese used balloons.  But still, there were many things in the video which reminded me so much of the Space Elevator Games…

  • Seeing one of the JSEA competition Climbers catching fire brought back memories of the 2007 LaserMotive entry and the “smoke-filled room”.
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  • Viewing the JSEA competitors working on their Climbers and seeing the note on the video about “repairing” and “modifying” the Climbers “at the last minute” could have been applied to all of the NASA/Spaceward competitions…
  • Watching the rain at the JSEA event reminded me so much of the rain and generally nasty weather at the 2007 NASA / Spaceward competitions held in Layton, Utah.

But there were differences too…

  • When the tether broke at the 2007 Space Elevator Games, it was just replaced with more tether (and a prayer that it wouldn’t break).  When the tether at the JSETEC games needed repairing, well, they repaired it.  The video shot of the ‘many hands’ working on this was remarkable, truly.
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  • JSEA set up a wi-fi network connecting everything at their competition, including the end-point of the competition run.  The Space Elevator Games didn’t do that, but for the 2009 competition, we had full use of all of NASA’s cameras and associated equipment to measure what had (and had not) been accomplished.
  • The 2011 JSETEC competition was held at the “Osawa alluvial fan of Mt. Fuji” while the Space Elevator Games were held on the “Rogers Dry Lake” at the NASA-Dryden facilities inside the Edwards Air Force base.  Two more different locales could not be imagined.

And the idiomatic differences in language, shown in the Japanese video, are much appreciated too.  I think my favorite was the description of the “Belt tether patched by execution committee”…

You know, so many times you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.  I miss our power-beaming Games, I really do.

This is a fine video – check it out.  It’s 14 minutes, 25 seconds long and very much worth your time.  And, for the next JSETEC competition, the Japanese aim for a height of 1,200 meters – higher than the winning run of the 2009 Power-Beaming competition.

Congratulations to JSEA!

(Picture thumbnail is of the USST Climber and the tether which broke while they were attempting a Climb.  Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version of the picture).