Once again, all together now;
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Space Elevator Blog!
Happy birthday to you!
Really, six years. I remember when I started this blog. I was recovering from some fairly major surgery and was sitting at my computer, just poking around the ‘net, looking for something interesting to read. I had just re-read Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise and wanted to know what was going on in the “Space Elevator Community”. I found a few sites and several postings, but nothing that seemed to bring everything together. I had authored a blog before, and so wasn’t new to the field, so I decided to start a “Space Elevator Blog”. Being the creative guy that I am, I named it “The Space Elevator Blog”.
The idea of a Space Elevator continues to grow and I’m proud to say that the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is playing a leading role in this. ISEC, along with the Japan Space Elevator Association and EuroSpaceward, are the leading proponents of this idea; pushing it forward, introducing new concepts and working towards that day when a Space Elevator a reality.
In keeping with tradition, I would list the highlights of the last 12 months as follows:
The 2011 Space Elevator Conference. ISEC funded the visits of several Carbon nanotube (CNT) experts to the Conference. All of them presented papers on the current ‘state-of-the-art’ in CNT development. We also heard our first inkling of a possible alternative to CNTs, that being Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNTs). This substance, something which does not occur in nature, has 95% of the theoretical strength of CNTs. Options are good! The 2011 Conference also the introduction of its first ever “Family Day” where children were able to build Lego Climbers and enter them into a competition held at the Conference. This idea was first fostered by the Japan Space Elevator Association and their annual LASER competition.
The inaugural issue of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, was published. As someone who was thoroughly immersed in all the details of this project, I have a new-found understanding and respect for Journal editors. It’s been a goal of ISEC to publish a Space Elevator Journal ever since it was founded and I’m glad that we have finally succeeded in this effort. It should be a great marketing tool for the Community and is another step forward for us on the road to ‘scientific respectability’ (or something like that). The print edition can be found here and the eVersion will be available on our website in the next several days.
The Europeans held their first Space Elevator Games, 2011-EuSEC. With these Games, we now have space-elevator related competitions being held in the United States, Japan and Europe. Congratulations to those people at EuSEC who made this happen. The 2012 EuSEC Games are already scheduled and will be the subject of a future post.
The Japan Space Elevator Association held another LASER and another JSETEC competition. The Japanese are so, well, Japanese. They start out small but continue to build and grow and, before you know it, are world leaders in the areas they decide to concentrate in. I remember when I was on my ‘second tour’, living and working in Saudi Arabia. There were three of us, me (an American of course), a Brit and a Japanese national that hung around together. Our conversations often revolved around business strategies and the Japanese guy used to tell us that “We Japanese are farmers; we till and cultivate and prepare and eventually get a solid, sustainable ‘crop’. You Americans and Europeans are ‘slash-and-burn’ guys, just looking for the quick buck and then you move on.’ There was a lot of truth in that statement…
The Space Elevator was given a two-page spread in the world-renowned publication, the National Geographic Magazine. And, even more exciting, ISEC was mentioned as a ‘technical source’ for the article. Their monthly circulation is in the neighborhood of 8.5 million copies, of which ~40% reside outside of the United States. This was truly a coup for ISEC – being mentioned in such a widely read and prestigious publication as National Geographic will pay us many dividends, now and down the road…
The University of Cincinnati and the Air Force Research Laboratory hosted the annual Nanotechnology Workshop on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. I attended this workshop in 2010 and, while it was absolutely fascinating, I was disappointed to see so little emphasis placed on the specific strength properties of CNTs. Almost all of the presentations dealt with the electrical properties of CNTs or infusing ceramics with CNTs to create novel, new materials or forming CNTs into unique structures, etc. The 2011 Workshop, however, was a different beast altogether. At least half of the presentations at least mentioned the specific strength properties of CNTs and a few of the presentations focused on this aspect entirely. It seems that academia has finally turned its attention to this possibility and I think that only good things can come from it. And, I was allowed to present the idea of a Strong Tether Competition to the attendees, something which I hope will bear fruit in the not-too-distant future…
The phoenix-like return of LiftPort. They are now concentrating on promoting the idea of a Lunar Space Elevator. It’s great to see that Michael Laine is still involved in the whole space elevator enterprise. His name is the most-recognized one in the field. Every time I put up a post which mentions his name, my readership spikes.
Other highlights include ISEC becoming an officially recognized 501c3 corporation, the initial release of Maurice Franklin’s Space Elevator Analysis Spreadsheet, the porting of the Space Elevator Pocketbook to the iPhone, being mentioned in the new coffee-table book The Cult of Lego, Jerome Pearson’s EDDE project finally getting some government funding, Japan’s Obayashi Corporation announcing their intention to build a Space Elevator by the year 2050 and the release of the 2011 ISEC Theme Poster.
Disappointments include the lack of progress in the Strong Tether Competition, no ISEC report for 2011 (although the 2012 report on Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator is well on its way) and the very sad passing of Gaylen Hinton, the first ever recipient of an Honorable Mention in the Artsutanov Prize competition.
What will the next 12 months bring? Well, it’s fairly safe to say that there will be a 2012 Space Elevator Conference, we will have Space Elevator related competitions in the US, Japan and Europe, we should see the second issue of CLIMB and the 2012 ISEC Report. And, I’m sure that there will be many other developments that will be a surprise…