8 degrees spells trouble for Solar power teams…

Salt Lake City, the home of this year’s Space Elevator Games, is at latitude 40 degrees 47 minutes north while Las Cruces, home of last year’s Games is at latitude 32 degrees 31 minutes north.  The difference is only a little more than 8 degrees, but that, according to Brian Turner of the Kansas City Space Pirates, spells out about a 15% power loss for their climber.  Brian also says that Salt Lake City is cloudy about 45% of the time vs. 20% for Las Cruces.  Added up, this spells some additional hurdles for the Space Pirates climber, and any other team relying on Solar Power.

The Space Pirates are also experiencing other difficulties.  From an email he recently sent out (and reprinted with permission);

“Solar cell attrition is looking to be a potential problem. We are using Space Grade rejects. The testing has been mixed with both good and bad results. It appears that we will break more than I had anticipated because they are quite fragile. It also seems at this point that some of the Space Grade rejects are also Space Pirate rejects. Currently it looks like we may have to scrap 30% of what we buy or use them at reduced output.”

Brian also has this to say about his competitors:

“None of the other teams seem to be confident enough in their progress to release any details. That usually means that they are having similar problems to us. If any of the laser teams were really doing well I would expect to hear something. The teams that are copying my mirror idea are up against the same things we are. And as for the Microwave teams…. Well, I am just not a believer.”

I’m not sure if the other teams not releasing information is symptomatic of problems or not.  He certainly could be right, but I expect at least a few other teams to come to the competition with polished, ready Climbers and they are only keeping mum now out of fear of tipping their hand early.  Come October, we’ll find out…

The Space Pirates are also sporting a new logo.  Click on it to see a larger version.

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