2013 Space Elevator Conference – Day 3

The 2013 Space Elevator Conference wrapped up today with another full schedule.  Attendees got one last “fill” of informative and interesting presentations as well as a chance to participate in 2 more workshops.

The first activity of the day was an informal polling of the audience as to this question: What would you do with a space elevator?  The answers ranged from the serious (colonize the Moon & Mars, send radioactive waste to the sun or to the moon for storage) to the whimsical (bring old cars up the tether and drop them from several kilometers up and then watch them burn up in the atmosphere!).  This activity happens at every Conference and it’s always interesting to see what new ideas arise.  The exercise does serve a serious purpose, helping to identify potential customers for a functioning Space Elevator.

The first presentation of the day was Electric Currents on the Space Elevator and was given by Dennis Wright.  He addressed one of the objections that is commonly raised against the space elevator, the concern of electrical currents which might be induced in the Space Elevator by various space-related factors and the fact that a Space Elevator is, in fact, a 100km long object that rotates along with the earth.  There are many unknowns about a structure like this, but Mr. Wright took the “knowns”, added some reasonable guesses for the “unknowns”, and came up with some preliminary conclusions.  In general, it doesn’t look like these induced currents are much of a problem (big caveat about the unknowns of course), but he did point out a potential electrical danger from broken strands of the elevator.  It was a very interesting talk and it’s clear that this type of investigation needs to be ongoing.

This talk was followed by multiple “Shotgun Science Sessions”.  This is a fixture of Space Elevator conferences now, a series of “5 minute”, “not ready for prime time” presentations where people can stand up and propose practically anything they want.  The audience then has a chance to ask questions and, perhaps, shoot the idea down.  These sessions ranged from being a Sci-Fi author, to how to dig regolith on the moon, to using a Space Elevator to send radioactive waste to the sun to everything in between.  These are lots of fun and have the added benefit of really getting the audience involved.  Presenters also know that they can speak without fear of being ridiculed – every idea is treated respectfully (even when it gets shot down!).

Following lunch, we then had the final two Workshops of the Conference.  This first was conducted by Dr. Bryan Laubscher and was entitled Balloon Experiments Workshop.  Dr. Laubscher wants to set up a competition for school age kids (middle school through College) that would, loosely defined, have teams who build Climbers that ascend/descend tethers that hang from balloons.  Teams would be judged on the kind of data they could collect, robustness, and several other suggestions made from the audience.  I hope Bryan gets this off the ground (pun intended) – it sounds like a lot of fun!

The last workshop was the Space Elevator Operations Workshop and was orchestrated by Skip Penny.  Skip was the chief author of the recently published ISEC study on Space Elevator operations. Skip reviewed the report and its updates and then gave a brief talk on challenges / opportunities in operating a Space Elevator.  The group then broke up into several sub-groups, each tasked with looking at a different problem or challenge in Space Elevator operations.  It was interesting, but not really unexpected, that the sub-groups came up with more questions than answers…

The day wound up with an open conversation between the audience and the Conference organizers as to possible improvement for future events & conferences.  There were lots of good ideas presented as to advertising, affiliations and workshops and I’m sure the conference organizers will use this input to make next year’s conference even better.

So, the 2013 Space Elevator Conference has come to a close – and it was a wonderful 3 days.  Once again I learned a lot, met a lot of interesting and fun people and had my enthusiasm for the Space Elevator project brought to new heights (once again, pun intended).

See you here next year!

(The top picture  thumbnail is of Dennis Wright giving his presentation on Electric Currents on the Space Elevator.  The middle thumbnail is of one of the Shotgun Science presenters – Jun Kikuchi – giving his presentation on why a Space Elevator would be very handy to have – to lift radioactive waste off of the planet and to fling it towards the sun.  The bottom thumbnail is of Skip Penny, orchestrating the Space Elevator Operations Workshop.  By clicking on any of the thumbnails, you can see a full-size version of the picture.)

2013 Space Elevator Conference – Day 2

Well, the second day of this year’s Space Elevator Conference has come and gone.  As with Day 1, it was filled with very interesting presentations and a useful and thought-provoking workshop.  And, as happens at these conferences, people have had a chance to get to know each other now and the personal interaction is increasing greatly – there are a lot of really interesting people here!

Today was very full too – beginning with a presentation from Bryan Laubscher, the CEO of Odysseus Technologies, Inc. (OTI).  OTI is in the business of creating strong CNT tethers.  It has had entries in a couple of the NASA/Spaceward Strong Tether challenges and has been trying some very novel approaches in the search for macro-level strong tethers (full disclosure: I am an investor in OTI).  Bryan’s presentation was on OTI’s PANG (Proximate Atom Nanotube Growth) Technology, an attempt to counter the phenomena that slow and halt the growth of CNTs when grown using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) techniques.  As we all know, creating a tether that is strong enough remains the single most difficult problem to deal with in building an earth-based space elevator.  As an investor in OTI and as a space elevator enthusiast, I hope that PANG bears fruit!

The next presentation was an overview of the just-completed International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) study on the Space Elevator.  In the study, entitled Space Elevators: an Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward, the 40 contributing authors (some from ISEC) and five editors expand on innovative ideas that increase the probability of a Space Elevator being built.  This study is to be released near the end of this year and its release will, of course, be announced on the blog.

The last presentation of the morning was on the 2013-2014 ISEC Theme.  Each year (and we’re talking about an “ISEC year” here – beginning and ending with the Space Elevator Conference), ISEC chooses a Theme to focus many of its activities around.  Past year’s themes include the study of Space Debris, the study of a possible Operations scenario for an earth-based elevator and the just-completed year’s theme, Tether Climbers.  For the first two Themes, ISEC prepared and published an in-depth report.  This same process is occurring for the just-completed year’s Theme, Tether Climbers.  The Theme that ISEC chose for the 2013-2014 ISEC year is Architecture and Roadmaps.  Dr. Peter Swan, the new President of ISEC and Michael Fitzgerald, a newcomer to ISEC, gave the presentation.   The 2013-2014 ISEC study will focus on comparing and contrasting the multiple approaches to  building and operating a Space Elevator that have been proposed over the past 10 or so years.  A preliminary report will be presented at next year’s Space Elevator conference with the final report to be produced and distributed some months after that.

After a lunch break, the entire afternoon session was devoted to the Lunar Elevator workshop, orchestrated by LiftPort president, Michael Laine.  Long time space elevator fans know that Michael has been involved in the Space Elevator effort since the early days.  Michael grew frustrated with the slow pace of carbon nanotube (CNT) development and decided to try and find something to kick-start the development of a Space Elevator.  The project he chose was to build a Space Elevator on the moon, something that can theoretically done with materials available today.  Michael and Liftport and the many allies & partners he’s gathered are making a serious attempt at this – something that all of us in the space elevator community should enthusiastically support. Michael and several of his key partners gave short presentations on the advantages of a Lunar Space Elevator and how something like this should be built.  It was serendipitous that Jerome Pearson was at this conference – after all, he was THE inventor of the idea of a Lunar Space Elevator and I don’t think anything would please him more than to see this idea actually get off the ground (to coin a phrase)…

If you want to find out anything more about this project, check out the LiftPort website.  Many of you might also know that simultaneously with last year’s Space Elevator Conference, Michael and Liftport raised money on Kickstarter to jump-start this project.  His initial goal was to raise $8,000.  By the time it was all said and done, he had raised well over $100,000 – the power of group funding!

After the workshop, it was time to watch the finals of the Space Elevator robotic competition that was being held at the Museum of Flight.  This is always a fun time, watching teams of children (up to and including high-school age) build robotic climbers to compete with one another for prizes donated by one of the Space Elevator Conference’s sponsors, Microsoft.  Jerome Pearson was asked, and graciously agreed, to announce the winners and hand out the prizes.  Many people in the audience, including competitors and their parents, were thrilled to be able to meet Jerome and get their picture taken with him.  It has been absolutely wonderful to have him at this year’s conference.

The day wound up with the annual Space Elevator Conference banquet.  This year it was held at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery.  This Gallery hosts the Space Shuttle Trainer that was built to train the various Shuttle crews.  Every one of the crews from all 135 Shuttle missions were trained on this trainer.  It’s hard to imagine how big it is until you actually walk inside it.  While the front section was the subject of a guided tour (which I was unable to make), the back section, including the cargo bay, can be freely entered.  It’s an awesome sight.  And above the Trainer was a 50%-sized model of the Hubble Telescope hanging from the ceiling.  The Gallery is über-cool and it made it hard to concentrate on the excellent dinner we enjoyed.

So ends Day 2 – I eagerly await Day 3!

(The top picture thumbnail is of a train carrying several airplane fuselages from, presumably, one construction plant to another, a site we saw outside of the Conference windows while we were on break..  The Museum of Flight is located amidst much of the Boeing manufacturing plants.  The middle thumbnail is of Michael Laine and the Lunar Space Elevator project’s mascot, LSEI (Lunar Space Elevator Initiative) – it’s pronounced “Elsie”.  She even has her own Facebook Page!  The bottom thumbnail is of Jerome Pearson posing with one of the winning Robotic Team members.  You can view a full-size picture of any of the thumbnails just by clicking on them.)

2013 Space Elevator Conference – Day 1

Today, Friday – August 23rd, was the first day of this year’s annual Space Elevator Conference, hosted by ISEC.  For the second year in a row, it is being held at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, a truly outstanding venue for conferences such as ours.

We had a very full first day – several presentations, including a Keynote speech by one of the co-founders of the Space Elevator, American engineer Jerome Pearson, and a Tether-Climber workshop.

The day started out with a welcoming speech from the ISEC Conferences Chair David Horn, followed by a Space Elevator System Overview given by Dr. Peter Swan.  This was followed by a short ISEC Officers report (more about this in another post).

Then Jerome Pearson gave the Keynote address – Sir Arthur Clarke and the Space Elevator.  Jerome talked about his long relationship with Sir Arthur, how they met, how they worked together on projects, including Sir Arthur’s brilliant book The Fountains of Paradise and many other related topics.  His anecdotes about their relationship and other stories from Sir Arthur’s life were truly interesting.  Anyone who is a fan of the Space Elevator and/or Sir Arthur would see this speech as a “must-view”.  I video-taped it and, when I get home and can punch up the audio to a respectable level, I’ll post it on the ISEC YouTube channel for all to see.  Mr. Pearson has a brilliant and agile mind and it was very enjoyable to get to meet him again.  He is currently doing work with NASA (his EDDE project) to help remove Space Debris – a necessary and long-overdue task.

After a short break, Dr. Martin Lades gave a remote presentation (he is in Germany where he resides) on Climber-Tether Interfaces for a Space Elevator.  I think most people, when they think about the problem at all, just assume that you can equip a Tether-Climber with some sort of pinch-roller mechanism to propel the Climber up/down the tether.  Alas, it’s not so simple – the devil is always in the details.  The profile of the tether is very small and it is believed that a carbon nanotube-based tether will have a very low friction co-efficient.  Solving this with brute-force (i.e. having the rollers pinch the ribbon very tightly) introduce their own problems.  Dr. Lades discussed the various options which might be used to solve this problem.

Mechanical Engineer Larry Bartoszek (making his first appearance at a Space Elevator Conference in 9 years) then talked about the difficulty of Getting the Mass of the First Construction Climber under 900kg (something postulated in Dr. Edwards book).  The problem appeared difficult, if not impossible to solve 9 years ago, and little has changed today.  If a way is not found to solve this problem, then it may not be possible to have a series of construction Climbers “build up” the tether as originally envisioned – another solution will need to be found.  As with Dr. Lades presentation, Mr. Bartoszek showed us that the devil is in the details…

After lunch, Dr. Bryan Laubscher gave a presentation on various methods that might be used in Powering Space Elevator Climbers and the status / likelihood of each.  This was followed by Dr. John Knapman’s presentation on the First 40kms Danger and Approach.  Both presentations gave the audience an opportunity to further their understanding of how a Space Elevator might actually be constructed and operated.

Following these presentations and a break, the first workshop of the Conference then took place, this on Tether Climbers.  I gave a short intro and description of a possible “hybrid” climber (using a combination of conventional, laser and solar power) and this was followed by Dr. Knapman presenting the possibility of thinking of how to power climbers in terms of “Constant Power” rather than “Constant Speed” and the tradeoffs that would result.  Both of these brief presentations were to get the audience in the mind of thinking about alternatives when it comes to imagining how the Climbers would work.  The audience then broke up into 5 brainstorming groups where these ideas and others were discussed.  Each group then made a brief presentation about their deliberations and some very interesting ideas were proposed.  Dr. Peter Swan and Skip Penny are going to summarize these and post them on the ISEC website within 60 days.  Of course I’ll have a post here on the blog about it.

The day wound up with an Evening Mixer at the Museum of Flight’s Red Barn Gallery.

It was a wonderful first day and everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed it – more tomorrow!

(Top picture thumbnail is of Jerome Pearson.  Bottom picture thumbnail is of Dr. Peter Swan (with an assist from David Horn) showing a scale model of the earth and a space elevator tether.  Click on either thumbnail to see a full-size version of the picture.)

Prophets of Science Fiction

An oldie, but still goodie, and, with the Space Elevator Conference coming up in just a few days, this seems apropos…

In 2011 and 2012, the Science Channel aired 8 shows in the Prophets of Science Fiction series.  Episode 4, originally aired on November 30, 2011, featured Sir Arthur C Clarke (my all-time favorite sci-fi author).

One of his best books was the Fountains of Paradise, Sir Arthur’s concept of a Space Elevator.  The show devotes a good portion of time to the concept and also to Michael Laine, head of LiftPort, and someone very active in the Space Elevator community.

You can see the movie as it is occasionally re-aired on the Science Channel and also, online, thanks to the awesomeness that is YouTube.

The Space Elevator segment starts at about 26:20 and the bit with Michael Laine starts at about 30:28.  Michael, incidentally, will be attending this year’s Space Elevator Conference as he usually does and I will look forward to seeing him again there.

Obayashi releases a video about the Space Elevator

The Japanese construction company Obayashi (remember them?) recently released a “conceptual construction” video about the Space Elevator.  You can view the webpage with the video here.  Actually, there’s no actual construction shown, but it’s a cool video nonetheless.

The webpage is in Japanese, of course, so if that’s not a language you can read, I would recommend you open up this page with the Google browser Chrome and let it translate it for you.  There doesn’t appear to be any audio however, but as I don’t understand Japanese, I don’t miss it.  But some music would have been a plus 🙂 There IS audio – lesson here is to have a headset plugged in AND properly configured. The music is very reminiscent of the Alan Chan video.

Two more days to register for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference!

A final reminder, registration for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference closes on Sunday, midnight, US Pacific time.

We have a great conference planned.  Jerome Pearson will be the Keynote speaker and we have over a dozen presentations, 4 workshops, a Family Science Fest and much more for your enjoyment and edification.

Be there or be square!

Carbyne – what do we have here?

This is truly interesting.  As reported in the paper Carbyne from first principles: Chain of C atoms, a nanorod or a nanorope? (and if I’m reading the paper correctly), the specific strength of Carbyne is on the order of 75 MYuris, well within the range needed to build an earth-based space elevator.

However, there does appear to be at least one fly in the ointment – material stability.  It seems that if you have more than one strand of Carbyne that contacts another one, cross-links will form and will degrade the material’s strength.  Money quote from the article; “…This barrier suggests the viability of carbyne in condensed phase at room temperature on the order of days…”  So, maybe not quite there yet.

I did a little net-sleuthing and found a short article/comment (Carbyne and other myths about carbon) by Dr. Harry Kroto, a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel prize in Chemistry.  It is almost 3 years old and in it, he also raises the issue of material stability (to put it mildly).

Carbyne from first principles… has five authors.  Three of them (Dr. Boris Yakobson, Vasilii Artyukhov and Mingjie Liu) are also the authors of a paper in the current issue (Vol 2 / No 1) of CLIMB.  They also presented a paper at the 2011 Space Elevator conference which won an Honorable Mention in the Artsutanov competition.

I will be corresponding with these authors (and, hopefully, Dr. Kroto) over the next several days and will report back on what additional information I can glean – stay tuned!

(Hat Tip: Andy Price & Michael Fischer)

ISEC July eNewsletter now available

The ISEC eNewsletter for July has just been released and is available here. All ISEC eNewsletters are available here.

Stories include announcements about the upcoming Conference, the recently released CLIMB Volume 2 report and the IAA Space Elevator report, scheduled to be released in the near future.

You can sign up for our eNewsletters at the ISEC Web site.

Volume 2 of CLIMB now available!

Volume 2 / Number 1 of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, is now available in printed format!  This issue contains some of the best, peer-reviewed Papers relating to a space elevator that have been written since Volume 1 was released in December of 2011.  It also includes, as Volume 1 did, several Additional Reading articles which we at ISEC think will be of great interest to the Space Elevator enthusiast.

Volume 1 of CLIMB was the “Yuri Artsutanov” issue and Volume 2 of CLIMB is the “Jerome Pearson” issue.  We have honored these engineers in the first two issues of CLIMB as they were the original inventors of the Space Elevator concept that is referenced today in all serious work on this subject.  I’d like to also note that Jerome Pearson will be the Keynote speaker at this year’s Space Elevator Conference (you are coming, aren’t you?) and will be at the conference all 3 days.  It will be a great opportunity for you to purchase a copy of CLIMB at the Conference (unless you have already received it as part of your membership benefits) and have Jerome autograph it for you.

The plan is now to publish future issues of CLIMB each year in the June/July timeframe, this to be coordinated with the annual Space Elevator Conference.  So, you can look forward to future issues of CLIMB each year.

To purchase Volume 2 of CLIMB, or any other ISEC publication, visit the ISEC Store or our publisher, Lulu.com.

Enjoy!

Weird but True (4)

In the National Geographic children’s book Weird but True 4: 300 Outrageous Facts, one of the items mentioned is the Space Elevator.  It shows the Mondolithic conceptual graphic of a Space Elevator and the fact mentioned is “In the future, you may be able to take a Space Elevator thousands of miles above the earth.

I’m pretty sure this is a direct result of the NatGeo article on the Space Elevator that ISEC was able to contribute to a couple of years ago.

(Hat Tip – “Fitzer” via Peter Swan)

(Click on the picture thumbnail to see a larger version)

A Tedx Talk about the Space Elevator

Earlier this year, Markus Landgraf, a Mission Analyst at the European Space Agency, gave a TEDx talk about the Space Elevator.  It was well done and worth the 19+ minutes of your time it will take you to listen to it.

He discusses the long CNT fibers made by a company in China and proposes using these to make an SE Cable.  The problem is, is that they’re just not yet “pure” enough to do so.  Nano-threads spun from CNTs are, so far, full of kinks and defects – the technology is just not yet there to make them like we need to have them be.  But technology continues to attack the problem and I think it’s only a matter of time…

2012 Space Elevator Conference Proceedings now available

The Proceedings for last year’s Space Elevator Conference are now available at the ISEC Store.  This was an excellent conference, with many strong presentations.  If you attended the Conference, this CD will be mailed to you in the next several days.  For those of you who may have missed the conference, the $20 purchase price for the CD is a bargain.

Also available on the ISEC Store are the Conference proceedings for the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Space Elevator conferences as well as the Space Elevator Journal, CLIMB, the ISEC Reports and the ISEC Posters.

How to find us…

Just a reminder about ISEC’s unified social presence – and that is ISECdotORG!

The (new)ISEC Facebook page is ISECdotORG!

The ISEC Flickr Photostream is ISECdotORG!

The ISEC Twitter Feed is ISECdotORG!

And The ISEC YouTube channel is ISECdotORG!

The old ISEC Facebook page, International Space Elevator Consortium, has been discontinued.

So, Like, Follow and Watch ISEC at ISECdotORG!

Reminder – Early Bird prices for the upcoming Space Elevator conference end Sunday!

Sunday is the last day to purchase tickets for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference at the “Early Bird” prices.  Beginning Monday, July 1st, ticket prices revert to full-board…

This conference, scheduled for August 23rd through the 25th, is talked about in more detail in a previous post on this blog and in the current ISEC eNewsletter.

It’s going to be a GREAT conference and I hope to see all of you there!

KONE UltraRope

A recent article in The Economist talked about the KONE corporation, based in Finland, introducing a new, high-strength, carbon-fiber based rope for the conventional elevator industry called “KONE UltraRope“.  I was unable to find any information on the KONE website about actual strength measurements of the material, but did glean some snippets from other articles discussing it.  For example:

NewScientist reports: “UltraRope beats steel for tensile strength but weighs only one-seventh as much.”

Gizmag says: “…UltraRope is said to be twice as strong as steel…”

Several sources, including Phys.org report: “UltraRope has a carbon fiber core with high friction coating. The carbon fiber core lasts longer than conventional steel ropes, said KONE. UltraRope is highly resistant to wear and abrasion and, unlike steel, the structure does not densify and stretch.”

For comparison purposes, Toray Carbon Fibers America reports that its own carbon fibers have a tensile strength of approximately 6 GPa-cc/g but in useful (i.e. composite) form, “only” about 3 GPa-cc/g, on the order of the same strength as Dyneema or Spectra.

So, can we build an earth-based Space Elevator yet with UltraRope?  We can definitively say “No” to that.  But is this material strong enough to have won the NASA Strong-Tether challenge?  The answer is, well, “maybe”…  There just isn’t enough material out there (that I have been able to find) to make a determination one way or the other.

But I have emailed KONE for more info and if they provide it, I will post it here.

Regardless, it’s exciting to see carbon-fiber materials being used in applications like this (and in an elevator no less!) and one can only hope that the manufacturing knowledge being gained here will, someday down the road, be applicable to an earth-based space elevator.  The Economist understood this well when they concluded:

“Nor need carbon-fibre lift-cables be confined to buildings. They could eventually make an idea from science fiction a reality too. Space lifts, dreamed up in the late 1950s, are a way of getting into orbit without using a rocket. Building one would mean lowering a cable from a satellite in a geosynchronous orbit above the Earth’s equator while deploying a counterbalancing cable out into space. The cable from Earth to the satellite would not be a classic lift rope because it would not, itself, move. But it would perform a similar function of support as robotic cars crawled up and down it, ferrying people and equipment to and from the satellite—whence they could depart into the cosmos.”

The Japan Space Elevator Association announces SPIDER

I received an email from Shuichi Ohno, President of the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) telling me about a new racing event they are holding – SPIDER.  Shuichi had this to say about it:

“Today, I would like to introduce to you our new category SE climber activities. It is called SPIDER from it’s characteristic, right weigh, speedy, smart(will be).

Until this spring, we have been holding some kind of SE climber activities. But now, we categorize them in 3 series:

– LASER : Lego bricks Activities with Space Elevator Race (weight <500g)

– SPEC(SPEC in Japan, JSPEC for the world)  : Space Elevator Challenge (weight > 1.5kg)
Sub category ; SPEC class (<1km height)  and Full-SPEC (>1km)

– SPIDER : Light weight , inexpensive climber activities (500g < weight < 1.5kg)
Sub category ; Spider (Radio controlled) and Auto Spider (automated)

Distinction of SPIDER :
– Cheap : It is possible to build up with RC car kit parts and total amount in Japan is under $160 except RC  controller or micro board computer. ( Type 540 motor and Ni-mH battery, no expensive Li-Po battery)

– Easy to build ( but not too much easy) : Builder must work with drill and jig saw and file. EST to finish by high school techie student is 30 hours.

– Safety awareness : Builder must study and think about dropping provision and safety mechanism with break.  Those are very different point from other robot building activities.

– Automation : I t is very easy to change RC receiver to micro computer like Aruduino.

On June 8th, we held a mini-race with collage and university students. 8 climber came and 4 climber succeeded to climb in almost 10km/h ascend speed.

I would like to ask you to introduce this kind of activities on you blog. It is not so difficult to build a smart climber with RC kit / parts of recent-day.

Important thing : Energy of recent battery and power of motors may cut the belt very easily if tire/roller run idle much. Please consider to use the heat-stable material tether/belt. In Japan we strongly suggest to use aramid fiber belt. Before you climb, please do the run idle and tether cutting experiment.

Thank you.”

He also posted a video on YouTube relating to this:

.

Thank you Ohno-San and congratulations to JSEA.  Let’s hope that this competition gets copied around the world…

ISEC June eNewsletter now available

The ISEC eNewsletter for June has just been released and is available here.  All ISEC eNewsletters are available here.

Stories include announcements about the upcoming Conference, the recently released ISEC CONOPS report, results from a recent Climber competition in Japan and a description of our new Social Media presence.

You can sign up for our eNewsletters at the ISEC Web site.

Tickets for the 2013 Space Elevator Conference now on sale!

Tickets for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference are now on sale!  Prices have been reduced from previous years and are a better bargain than ever.  “Early Bird” prices are available through the end of June after which registration fees will revert to the full price.

The conference, to be held on August 23rd through the 25th, will again be hosted at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.  Last year was our first at this new venue and it was truly outstanding.  The seating arrangement (large, round tables) was much more conducive to conversation among the attendees and the ‘backdrop’ of the Museum of Flight has to be experienced to be believed.

So, don’t wait – sign up now!  We have a very full schedule including several presentations and a few workshops.  And, as an added bonus, Jerome Pearson, the American Engineer who independently invented the idea of a tensile-based space elevator, will be the Keynote speaker!.  This year’s version of CLIMB is the “Jerome Pearson” edition and if you bring your copy to the conference (or purchase a copy at the conference), I’m sure Jerome will be happy to autograph it for you.

See you there!

New ISEC Report released – Space Elevator Concept of Operations

The second in an ongoing series of ISEC reports has been released; Space Elevator Concept of Operations.  This report was written by ISEC Board Members Skip Penny and Peter Swan and co-authored by Cathy Swan.  Other ISEC Board members made suggestions and critiques during the creation process and comments and suggestions were also made in a workshop at the 2012 Space Elevator Conference devoted to this report.

From the Introduction:

This report addresses initial commercial operations of a space elevator pair with robotic climbers.  This report has been developed to help define a starting point for an initial space elevator infrastructure.  It is assumed that there are two space elevators in place to ensure continuation of our escape from the gravity well.  It also assumes that a sufficient number of climbers are available for delivering of spacecraft and other payloads to orbit, and, if required, return them to earth.  In addition, this report is designed to be the initial operations concept from which many improvements will occur as future knowledge and experience drives infrastructure concept revisions.  The description of a concept of operations, including a quick look at the transportation to space infrastructure, is broken into four sections:

Part I: Mission Description
Part II: System Characteristics
Part III: System of Systems Operations
Part IV: “A Day-in-the-Life”

Priced at only $7.00, this study is an important step in fulfilling an ongoing goal of ISEC: – taking away reasons why people can say “No” to the idea of a Space Elevator.

The report is now available from the ISEC shop at Lulu.com and will also be available from the ISEC Store.

(Click on the thumbnail picture of the cover to see a full-size image).

The 2013 Space Elevator Conference

The 2013 Space Elevator Conference will be held from Friday, August 23rd through Sunday, August 25th at the Museum of Flight, in Seattle, Washington.  Last year’s conference was the first one held at this new venue – and the venue truly lived up to its billing.

Planning for the Conference is well under way.  Conferences Chair David Horn has been hosting bi-weekly planning calls for several months now and this conference promises to be better than ever.

A Call for Papers for the conference has been issued and papers are now starting to trickle in.  If you’re interested in submitting a paper for the conference, or just learning more about the conference, visit the website.

Mark your calendars now – be there or be square!

Space Elevator Wiki and Software Wars

I’m very remiss / late in posting this…

Longtime Space Elevator enthusiast, Keith Curtis, the owner / maintainer of the Space Elevator Wiki website has also created a publication entitled “Software Wars”.  From the website:

“The average computer user is unaware there is a war for freedom going on that will determine the path of modern society. Software Wars is a movie about the battle for our right to share technology and ideas. Your phone is perfectly happy to add zero + zero billions of times per second, all day long. The shiny hardware gets the love, but software is the magic behind it all.

The software we need will not be “owned” by corporations like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, who are mostly impeding technological progress. (Google supports efforts such as Linux via Android, but their AI code in Google Now, language translation and driverless cars are not built in an open way.)

This software will be built by a global community, taking on problems too big for any one company or team to even understand. We should have been working together all along, but it is necessary now for the few big problems that remain.

Greater use of free software and the ideas in this movie will lead to faster progress on the Linux desktop, improve the way children learn math, finally build computers that think, decode DNA, and more. The movie’s experts explain what is possible, and the audience decides what happens.”

Keith is trying to crowdsource the funding of turning his publication into a movie.  You can see the trailer, below, visit the Indiegogo funding site here, and read/view an interview with Keith here.

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Keith states that the movie will have “…a number of minutes about the space elevator…” – there are just a couple of days left in the fundraising campaign – good luck Keith!

Epicurean meals in space…

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Reader Christophe Charron sent me this short animation a few days ago.  While not directly targeted towards a Space Elevator, it’s funny and, I think, relevant nonetheless.

Christophe sends me this explanation:

Here is “Un petit plat pour l’homme”, one of the funniest short film, I think,about cooking in space (a french and epicurean vision of).

This is Corentin Charron (aka Onectin’s) third year’s short-film, from Supinfocom Arles.

  • Assigned topic: “The Kitchen”
  • Used softwares: 3ds Max 2012 (scanline only), After Effect, Premiere and Photoshop

Neil Amstrong’s “That’s one small step for man…” could be translated “Un petit pas pour l’homme” and the title of the film is “Un petit plat pour l’homme” (phoneticly near) that can be  translated as “One small dish for man”

Nothing like a good bottle of wine to make the meal complete – thank you Christophe!

2012 BEST South Regional competition – day 2 roundup

Today was the second and last day of the 2012 BEST Competition – South Regional.  Like the first day, it was frenetic, well-organized and a lot of fun.  To get the main bit of business out of the way, the overall winner of the competition was the Cornerstone Christian Preparatory Academy from a suburb just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Their overall score in several categories, Competition, Engineering Notebook, Display Booth, and some other categories, was the highest and so they were the overall winners.  After the competition was over, I was able to track them down (not very hard – I just followed the sound of the loudest cheers) and spent several minutes talking with them and taking pictures – a great bunch of kids.  They were trying very hard to talk me into visiting their school in the near future and talking about a Space Elevator – maybe we’ll be able to do it via Skype…

Regarding the Climber competition itself, there were certainly no new Engineering principles at work here – they were robots, assembled from a Kit.  I have posted a video of one of the competition runs at our new channel on YouTube: ISECdotORG.  But the whole idea of the BEST competition, as I have written about earlier, is to encourage middle-school and high school level kids to get interested in techie stuff, science, engineering and technology.  It certainly seems to have succeeded in doing that and I’m truly grateful that Mr. Brent Percival of Auburn University (where this competition was held) called me up (out of the blue) one day earlier this year and asked if ISEC would be interested in participating.  We did spend some of our funds on sponsoring this competition and a few more of our dollars on hand-outs (posters, business cards, CLIMB Volume 1 and the ISEC report on Debris Mitigation) and I think it was very well worth it.  I had people talking to me almost the entire time I was there about the Space Elevator.

Some anecdotes…

Just before noon, one of the competition organizers came up to me and told me that I and 9 other vendors / sponsors would be stationed at tables outside the arena.  The idea was to give each of the kids participating in the competition a card with spaces on it for 8 different types of “stamps”.  Each of us at a table would have a stamp and, as the kids came around and talked to us, we would stamp their card.  If they were able to get all 8 of the stamps on their card, it would go into a drawing for a door prize.  However, there were only 8 stamps for our 10 tables.  At any one time, 2 of us would not have them.  I had a steady stream of kids and their parents coming up to my table, wanting to get their card stamped and wanting to talk about the Space Elevator.  Even when it wasn’t my turn to have a stamp, very few of the kids drifted away when they found that out – they really like the idea (and kids love posters and I had a lot of them to give away!).  I had no idea this was going to happen – completely caught me by surprise.  But it was a fun way to spend 2 hours, even if the back of my neck did get a little bit sunburned…

People sure treat you nice when they find out you’re a sponsor :).  I was given an ‘all-access’ pass and was able to go anywhere I wanted and talk to anyone I wanted. I made a point of introducing myself to the event announcer.  When I found out that his son was very much into robotics and the idea of a Space Elevator, I made sure to give him a copy of CLIMB, an ISEC Report, all 4 years of posters that we have and a couple of years of Conference proceedings to give to his son.  I wasn’t looking for any favors, just trying to get the word out, but boy, did ISEC get top billing whenever they thanked their sponsors!  Every other sponsor was just mentioned by name.  When he mentioned ISEC, he raved about how this group was really working on the idea / project of building a space elevator.  I would say, with a very high degree of confidence, that fewer than 10 people at the event knew about ISEC when the event started.  But by the time we were finished, I had people coming up to me to talk to me, people would point me out when I walked by, everyone would say “Thank you for helping out this event”, etc., etc., etc…  We truly did get some excellent publicity at this event.

A case in point was at the end of the competition and I tracked down the team from Cornerstone.  Many of them knew who I was and what ISEC was about and they insisted that I join them for a group photo (which you can find on our Flickr account; ISECdoORG, along with other photos from the 2-day event).  That was pretty cool…

There was just a lot on fun, techy-nerdy stuff going on too.  Each of the teams could submit a short video which was then displayed several times during the competition – and a winner was chosen at the end of the competition.  The winning video was a play on Star Wars, with the punch line being “May the Centrifugal Force Be With You” – I love it!  But my personal favorite (which took 2nd place) was about how Thor was banished from Asgard by his father.  Naturally, he landed in a Science Class and, after he told the students his plight, they built him a Space Elevator so he could return home – very creative.

Each of teams had a mascot.  There were robots (lots of different kinds), Sharks, Eagles, Tigers, etc., and, today, they held a “Dance-off” – again the top three each being awarded a prize.  The audience really got into it (and so did the referees!).  I took a video of the first round of competition, but didn’t post it as it did get a bit long.  But the finals were short and fun and I’ve posted a video of that too.  Sorry for the not-great quality.  I tried to make my Canon point-and-shoot do double-duty (pictures and videos) and it just doesn’t do a great job on videos.  But the final result was OK and I think you’ll enjoy watching it.  And I’m also sorry that the song they danced to was “Gangnam Style” – it seems to be everywhere!

I think that’s it.  I do want to sincerely thank the BEST organizers and the Auburn staff, especially Mr. Brent Percival who invited ISEC to participate, for all their kindnesses – they truly showed what Southern Hospitality was all about and they ran a great competition.

(The top photo thumbnail is of the representatives from Cornerstone, hoisting their trophy in triumph.  Not great quality – taken on a camera phone so I could Tweet it right away.  The bottom thumbnail is of my favorite poster at the event.  Click on either to see a full-size picture and visit ISECdotORG on Flickr to see more photos from the Event).

2012 BEST South Regional competition – day 1 roundup

70 degrees today here in Auburn, Alabama.  Sunny skies, very little wind – just a delightful day.  So what am I doing?  I’m inside all day watching the South Regional BEST competition!

I’ve posted before about what BEST is, so will concentrate on today’s event in this post.  Most of the day was setup and practice – actual competition didn’t begin until 5pm.  These were preliminary, ‘seeding’ matches – 4 teams competed at one time, with the best 2 moving on to tomorrow’s finals.  On the ISEC Flickr account, I’ve posted the best of the pictures I took today – more tomorrow, I promise.  Also, I’ll have a video tomorrow of one of the competition runs.  I captured one today but it turned out to be of very poor quality.  Memo to self – don’t use the zoom feature of my Canon point-and-shoot when recording video.

Each team was given a kit to make a climber out of.  In this sense it is very similar to the LASER competition held by the Japan Space Elevator Association.  The tether belt was shorter than the one at LASER – maybe 5-7 meters tall.  There were various types of ‘payload’ that the Climbers had to grab and either go up the tether with it and put it in its proper location or else grab it from the top of the run and bring it back down to the bottom.  The teams have 3 minutes to get as much payload moved as possible.

The results of the competition are only one part of a team’s final score.  The booth they had, the engineering project workbook they made and a few other items all were part of it too.

The competition is really well organized.  They have lots of judges and referees, teams are staged before they actually are let into the competition area, scores are kept electronically and, in general, it is a very orderly process.  But it’s not quiet, oh no!  Each team has a cheering section and it reminded me of a European Soccer match.  Waving flags, chants, etc., and with music pounding in the background.  Each team also has a mascot, so there were high-school kids dressed up as robots (many varieties), sharks, war eagles (the Auburn mascot) wandering around all day too, just to add to the festivities.

As ISEC is a sponsor of this event, we have our logo in all of the literature and it is also shown on the Scoreboard over the Arena – the first time, I think we’ve been up in lights!  I also have my own table where I spent a good part of the day hanging around.  I brought several copies of CLIMB, the ISEC Report on Space Debris Mitigation, posters from all 4 years, some Conference proceedings and a few copies of the National Geographic that the Space Elevator and ISEC was featured in.  And, oh yes, lots of ISEC Business cards.  I only put out half of the material today which was a good thing, because by the end of the day it was all gone.  I’ll hand out the rest of it tomorrow.  It was also a lot of fun talking to the competitors, their teachers and their parents about the Space Elevator.  Even with the cold I have, all in all, a great day.

More tomorrow!

And, if you want up-to-the-minute information, follow us on Twitter and/or on Facebook at ISECdotORG!

(Picture thumbnail is a close-up of one of the Climbers. Click on it to see a full-size version or visit our Flickr page (ISECdotORG) to see more photos).

BEST Competition – getting ready for Day 1

There is never an opportune time to get sick, but here I am, with a cold, at the South’s regional BEST competitionin Auburn, Alabama.  I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled to many, many places, both inside and outside the US, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to Alabama.  Last night was my first experience with Chick-Fil-A and, I must say, the sandwich lived up to the hype.

I’m staying at a Best Western hotel in Opelika and at breakfast this morning, there were a lot of teams/team members there – very neat to see…

Competition doesn’t begin until 5pm today at the Auburn Arena.  The time prior to that is setup and preparation and I’m looking forward to wandering around the arena, introducing myself (as much as my sore throat will let me), taking pictures and, in general, just soaking up the competition atmosphere.

Gonna be fun!

(The picture thumbnail is of team #408, in the hotel parking lot, getting a last-minute briefing from one of the adult members.  Click on the thumbnail for a full-size picture.)

ISEC co-sponsors this year’s BEST Competition

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is co-sponsoring one of the regional BEST competitions this year, the one held in Auburn, Alabama on December 1st and 2nd of this year.

From Wikipedia:

BEST, Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology, is a national 6-week robotics competition in the United States held each fall, designed to help interest middle school and high school students in possible engineering careers…BEST encourages its teams to follow an engineering process, similar to the engineering process used in many engineering jobs. This gives students a taste of what they may have to do in future engineering jobs. It also hopes to get students excited about the field of engineering and more likely to go into it. Although BEST has not been able to keep up with alumni to see if BEST has had an effect on their career path, similar robotics competitions, like FIRST, show that activities like BEST do have a higher rate of students going into science and engineering related fields.

This year’s competition is entitled Warp XX and consists of designing Tether Climbers.  I’m going to be attending the competition, taking photos, passing out ISEC ‘goodies’ and talking up the idea of a Space Elevator.

It should be a lot of fun and I look forward to attending and blogging this event.

Announcing the 2013 Space Elevator Conference dates and venue!

It’s official – the 2013 ISEC Space Elevator Conference will be held on August 23rd, 24th and 25th, 2013 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

This is the same place as the 2012 Conference was held at and it is a truly fine venue for an event such as ours.

Planning is already underway and more details will be coming soon.

Mark your calendars and save the date!

Updates from the Kansas City Space Pirates

I’m a bit behind posting this – the October updates from our friends in Kansas City.  Brian Turner, captain and fearless leader of KCSP writes the following:

The laser power supply was fixed under warranty. Lumina power seems to have given me a generous benefit of the doubt about the failure.

I have reinstalled it and everything is testing out fine.

We have lost some momentum. At this point we are just working on power beaming in our spare time.

But in our spare time we have managed to get full control of the quadcopter via our LabVIEW programing environment. This allows us to “close the loop” between the tracking, and laser control systems. Something we would have had to do manually before. I also have improved quadcopter flight stability while hauling the solar panel.

You might wonder why this is taking us so long when Lasermotive pulled it off in about 3 months. The answer is time and money. They had at least 2 full time employees working on it and up to 4 kilowatts of laser power targeted at thousands of dollars of photovoltaic cells. We are limited by having far less laser power and much less expensive photovoltaic cells. If we do nothing but match their performance we will have substantially improved the state of the art from a price/performance point of view.

So… Watch this space.

Brian Turner
KC Space Pirates

It’s good to see that even without the NASA prize money available anymore, Brian and the KCSP continue to plug away…

First pictures from the 2012 European Space Elevator Competition (EUSPEC)

A couple of weekends ago, the second annual European Space Elevator Competition (EUSPEC) was held.  ISEC’s own Martin Lades attended this event and has been able to send me some preliminary pictures and information.  Winter has arrived early in Europe this year and Martin reports that the first climb was held in the snow!  Martin reports:

“The issue was of course the weather with rain and snow on the second day.  Picture attached. ~50m climb track.” This is the picture thumbnail in the upper left.

Martin also sent 3 other pictures (taken by Julius Hein) of the competitors enjoying the snow.

The competition was organized by TU Munich as EuSPEC, the WARR working group, one of the oldest university working groups in Germany, and Eurospaceward is a sponsor.

Official results coming soon…

 

     

 

Click on any of the picture thumbnails to see a full size picture.

The Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) Blog

I just found out that Devin Jacobson, a member of the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA), has been maintaining a blog entitled “JSEA Activities” (a name almost as unique as the one on this blog :).

Many of the posts are about Devin’s thoughts about space and the future and many of them are about activities at the JSEA.  For example, his current post talks about the recently completed JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical and Engineering Competition).

I’ve put his blog into my RSS FeedReader and recommend you do the same…

Payload

There is a new space elevator-themed short out now called Payload.  It’s nice to see the Space Elevator getting more publicity this way, but this short film is a real downer – it makes The Hunger Games look like It’s a Wonderful Life in comparison…

And, maybe it’s just me, but the opening shot of an ascending Space Elevator reminded me a little bit of the Kansas City Space Pirates and LaserMotive’s entries in the 2009 Space Elevator Games…

I’m also reminded of Brian Turner (the captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates) appearance on the Conan O’Brien show.  After Brian had described his vision of the highway system to outer space,  Conan remarked that “It will be filled with drifters, loners and prostitutes.

Gee, such optimism about the future.

(The picture thumbnail is of the LaserMotive climber during it’s prize-winning ascent in the 2009 SE Games, courtesy of NASA.  Click on it to see a full-size version of the picture).

Meet ISEC’s new eNewsletter editor

I’m very pleased to announce that Yi-Jeng Huang, a resident of the Canada, has agreed to join ISEC as our new eNewsletter editor.

Yi-Jeng brings a lot of experience in creating and editing newsletters to the table as well as a passion for the Space Elevator.  He attended the recent Space Elevator conference and volunteered his services there.

With Yi-Jeng heading up the effort, I’m confident that ISEC’s eNewsletter will get better by orders of magnitude in the very near future.

Thank you Yi-Jeng and welcome aboard!

You can sign up for ISEC’s eNewsletters here.

(Click on the picture thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.  Yi-Jeng can be reached at yi-jeng.huang [at] isec.org.)

ISECdotORG

ISEC has a new social presence – and that is ISECdotORG!  Our Twitter Feed is ISECdotORG.  Our Flickr Photostream is ISECdotORG!  And our new Facebook page is ISECdotORG!

I’ll have more to write about ISEC’s new ‘face’ in the near future, but for now, please follow ISEC on Twitter at ISECdotORG and please “Like” us on Facebook at ISECdotORG!

Space Elevator Conference photos now online

If you visit the ISEC Flickr Photostream, you can now see photos from last month’s Space Elevator Conference.  The Collection is divided up into various sets and all pictures are labeled.

The Museum of Flight was a very interesting and enjoyable venue for the Conference.  While the rooms weren’t as ‘fancy’ as the Microsoft Conference center was, they were quite nice and the Museum of Flight as a backdrop is nothing short of awesome.  As part of being involved in this whole Space Elevator effort, I’ve been fortunate to visit some really cool places, chief among them the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at the Edwards Air Force Base.  But the Museum of Flight ranks right up there – it truly is an amazing collection of flight-related exhibits.  And they continue to expand it – a new wing was under construction while we were there and, if we hold our Conference there next year, I very much look forward to visiting it.

We’re way behind on posting photos and we know it – we’ll have more up on this site soon…

(Picture thumbnail is one of the many, many WWII planes on exhibit at the Museum of Flight – they have a whole floor for this and another for WWI aircraft.  Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size picture.)

NASA, the Space Elevator Challenges and the Kansas City Space Pirates

Over at one of the NASA websites, there is a very nice write-up about the Kansas City Space Pirates (KCSP) and how they performed in one of the NASA Centennial Challenges (the Power-Beaming competition).  You can read it here…  The captain of the KCSP team, Brian Turner, commented ‘We got some positive press on the actual NASA web site. Makes me want to shout ‘We’re number TWO!’

So, where are we now with the Space Elevator Games?  As NASA has not renewed its 5-year commitment to the Power Beaming and Strong Tether challenges, we in the Space Elevator community have to look to other sources to fund these competitions.

The Power-Beaming competition appears to be dormant at this time.  KCSP wanted to challenge LaserMotive’s unofficial endurance record, but this isn’t happening, at least not in the immediate future.

For the Strong Tether Challenge, however, the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) has pledged to find sponsorship money and host a Competition for 2013.  Finding a material strong enough to make a Tether is still the major problem and this is what we have to concentrate on.

You can bank on it – ISEC will sponsor a Strong Tether Challenge in 2013!

Round-up of news coverage of the 2012 Space Elevator Conference

Here is a list of the majority of articles that covered the recently completed Space Elevator Conference.

Leading off is Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log post.

A post from RT.com.

A local (Seattle) Online news source, The SunBreak, had a story here.

David Appell posted his coverage of the conference at the online site of Scientific American (the graphics in this article were provided by ISEC’s graphic artist, Frank Chase).

The Conference was mentioned in the Economist article on Space Elevators.

Some pre-conference articles / announcements:

This one from the Atlantic.

An article from CBS Seattle.

Geekwire questions ISEC Director Bryan Laubscher here and posts another article about the conference here.

The Tukwila discusses the ‘upcoming’ conference here.

And finally, the Space Elevator Reference announced the conference here.

ISEC’s new Twitter Feed

ISEC has a new Twitter feed and a new “social media identity” – ISEC.ORG (or ISECdotORG for those sources, such as Twitter, that have a problem with ‘the period’)!

As ISEC’s President, I pledge to send out Tweets on a regular basis, so please Follow us on Twitter at ISECdotORG!

I’ve just Tweeted about the Board of Director elections at the recent annual Board Meeting – check out the election results here.

Deadlines approaching…

posted earlier about the LiftPort Kickstarter campaign; it has now raised over $96,000 – and there is only 11 hours to go (as of this post).  If you want to contribute towards the rebirth of LiftPort, here’s a tangible way to show your support!

And,  I also posted earlier about The Tower of Babel: NASA’s Great Endeavor, a new novel with a Space Elevator as a central theme.  The author, Dr. Victor Nelson had previously offered to donate any revenues he received from early August through the end of the just-completed space elevator conference to ISEC.  Dr. Nelson has now extended that offer to September 15th, so you still have a chance to buy the book and help ISEC.  Dr. Nelson also tells me he lives “…near the Johnson Space Center and will be happy to sign the books for those who are in the area.”  Thank you Dr. Nelson!

ISEC September, 2012 eNewsletter released

The current issue of the ISEC eNewsletter has been released.  This newsletter contains a wrap-up of the just-completed Space Elevator conference, a status update on LiftPort’s Kickstarter campaign (which has now raised over $85K – wow!) and a status update on the upcoming EuSPEC (EuroSpaceward’s annual Space Elevator competition).

You can see the eNewsletter by visiting the ISEC website here.

If you’re not already subscribed to the Newsletter, you can do so here and have it delivered directly to your Inbox.

Check it out!

The Space Elevator Conference makes Scientific American

In the current online issue of Scientific American, science writer David Appell has a piece about the Space Elevator, the recent conference (photos & update coming soon, promise!), LiftPort, etc., etc., etc…

The graphic in the article is from the 2012 ISEC Poster (designed by Frank Chase – great job Frank!).

This is just the latest in a series of articles that David has written about the Space Elevator.  Other ones include:

Stairway to the heavens, Physics World, December 2011

Japanese construction firm unveils ambitious space-elevator vision, Physics World, April 2012, p. 8

Thanks David.

LiftPort and Kickstarter…

As part of the “LiftPort 2.0” relaunch, Michael Laine and company have created a Kickstarter campaign to finance some projects they want to do/accomplish.

Their initial goal was to raise $8K to finance some fairly low-grade experiments and they have totally blown by that (their campaign has raised over $60K at the time of this blog post – MOST impressive…).  This will allow them to fund some of their ‘stretch’ goals which are much more ambitious undertakings.

I spent some time with Michael at the recent Space Elevator Conference (posts about this Conference are coming soon – promise!) and it was very good to interact with him again.  He’s a dynamic force in the community and I’m glad he’s back.

I’ve become a sponsor of the LiftPort KickStarter project (at the Video Channel level – I think it’s a great idea) and I encourage you to do the same (at any level).  There’s a lot we need to learn to make a Space Elevator a possibility and this effort will contribute to the total body of knowledge that will be necessary to make this most magnificent of all engineering projects a reality.

(Note that funding for these projects will close on September 13th, so act soon if you want to be a part of this!) 

The Tower of Babel

I was just made aware of another book (published in August of 2011) that has a Space Elevator as a “major player”.  This book, The Tower of Babel: NASA’s Great Endeavor, was written by Dr. Victor Nelson.  We hadn’t heard of him and he hadn’t heard of ISEC until very recently.  After some brief correspondence with ISEC’s Bryan Laubscher, Dr. Nelson made the very generous offer that any revenues he receives from selling his book from now until the end of the current Space Elevator Conference will be donated to ISEC.

Thank you Dr. Nelson!

Bryan has ordered his copy and I’ve just ordered mine (via Kindle – I love my Kindle – thanks wife!).

The obligatory ‘dust jacket’ description:

Earth has survived into the third decade of the twenty-first century, but the United States and Communist China have become embroiled in a deadly space race. Whoever succeeds will have a dominant advantage in colonizing Mars and producing military bases in deep space and on Earth’s moon. Although the Chinese have a head start with their project, a recently revivified NASA has developed new technologies that will gain for them a competitive edge. The Chinese will stop at nothing to obtain this classified information and to destroy the American scientific leadership. Magnus Kolden, a brilliant scientist, was oblivious to the ominous signs of trouble and disaster when he was appointed as NASA’s project leader. He has never had an interest in the military applications of this technology, but only in its use for the advancement of science. Nevertheless, he will have to lead the Americans to victory in the largest space endeavor in the history of humankind. A life-long dream of creating a better way to travel into deep space has come with a heavy price. Magnus finds himself pitted against a ruthless enemy agent organization and also against Islamic extremist terrorists. Both organizations will stop at nothing to terminate his pursuits. He is fighting for the safety of his family, his life, and his dreams. Many internal and external forces may sabotage his success. A cataclysmic event will change the course of the story. What revelation will be thrust upon Magnus Kolden?

It sounds very interesting and I will probably delve into it during my plane ride home.

So, buy the book and benefit ISEC – thank you again Dr. Nelson, and I hope to get to meet you at a future event.

The BBC talks about the Space Elevator Conference

Space Elevator Conference chair David Horn was interviewed by BBC’s Richard Hollingham recently and the result of that interview is posted here, on the BBC Future website.

It’s a good article and gets the basic facts right.  It does incorrectly state that ISEC has been the organizer of the Space Elevator Conferences for the past 10 years (this is the first year that ISEC is the organizer), but that’s a minor nit.

All in all, well worth a read…

Space Elevator Conference registration deadline approaching…

Just a reminder that registration closes for the upcoming Space Elevator Conference on Sunday, August 19th, so you have 12 days from today to register if you want to attend (and you do want to attend, don’t you?).

The latest press release from the Conference:

Tether Strength Competition and Pacific Science Center Exhibits at the 2012 Space Elevator Conference

The technical conference will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington August 25th through August 27th, 2012.

undefinedRegistration for the 3-day technical conference closes August 19, 2012 in order to get our final attendee and catering counts to the museum and to the caterer.  All 3-day registrations will be entered in a raffle to win one of two Android Tablets (a 10” and a 7” model) provided by Leeward Space Foundation.  Raffle winners will be announced at the Saturday night dinner banquet.

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 25th is included with Museum of Flight admission. You do not need to register for the Saturday Family Science Fest.

3-Day Technical Conference

The presentation schedule for the technical will be finalized by August 10th.  There may be a few changes to the presentation order and start times between now and August 10th.  Check out the fantastic presentations we have lined up this year, register to come see them, and participate in the discussions!

Tether Strength Challenge:  ISEC is funding the prize purse for this year’s Tether Strength Competition and the rules have been updated to lower the bar a bit and increase the chances that someone will win the competition this year.  Competition rules are now available on the conference web site.  One or two teams are interested in competing this year and we’re working to get them registered for the challenge.

Family Science Fest

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 25th is included in the Museum of Flight admission price. We have recently added the Pacific Science Center to the list of activities.  They will have physics exhibits and instructors to provide hands-on experience with various physics concepts for kids of all ages.  The Family Science Fest also includes the Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, the ever-popular youth robotics competition (rules and registration instructions are on the web site), and much more.  This is a great event for the whole family!

About the Space Elevator

The Space Elevator is one of the most magnificent Engineering projects ever conceived. It promises abundant access to space and a multitude of benefits for humanity. Come to the Conference and hear presentations and discussions with people working to make the Space Elevator a reality!

Many thanks to the Museum of Flight for being a “Counter Weight” level sponsor of this year’s conference.

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EuSPEC 2012 planning well underway…

Planning for the 2012 European Space Elevator Challenge (EuSPEC) is well underway.  This is the second year this competition is being held and it will occur October 25th through the 28th in Munich, Germany.

The application deadline is tomorrow, July 31st and more details can be found at their website.

The first competition (EuSEC 2011) was a great success and I’m sure this one will be even better.

The Space Elevator and Forbes…

In today’s Forbes online, science journalist Bruce Dorminey writes about the Space Elevator and the upcoming Space Elevator conference.

Bruce interviewed ISEC Conferences Chair David Horn for his story.

This is an excellent interview / article and well worth the read.

And remember, the conference is only a little more than 4 weeks away.  There is still time to register, but don’t delay.

See you there!

Dr. Bryan Laubscher to appear on The Space Show

This coming Monday, July 16th, from 2pm to 3:30pm Pacific time, Dr. Bryan Laubscher, astrophysicist and ISEC Board Member, will appear on Dr. David Livingstone’s The Space Show.  Bryan will talk about the Space Elevator, the upcoming Space Elevator Conference, carbon nanotubes and other related subjects.

From the Space Show website:

The Monday, July 16, 2012 program from 2-3:30 PM PDT welcomes back Dr. Bryan Laubscher for space elevator news, updates, and conference information.

Dr. Laubscher is a PhD in Physics with a concentration in Astrophysics. After a career as a project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory that included research and development of astronomy projects, space missions, satellite instrumentation, optics, novel electrodynamic detection techniques, high power lasers, and classified projects Bryan became interested in the Space Elevator. Bryan’s current Space Elevator activities include being the General Chairman for the annual Space Elevator Conference held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, WA. Pursuing the R&D of the Space Elevator has led him to start Odysseus Technologies, LLC a small company based in Washington state with the goal of developing high strength carbon nanotube materials. In August 2010 and 2011, Odysseus Technologies competed in the NASA Centennial Strong Tether Challenge. Although the tether was not strong enough to win prize money, it was strong enough to beat the other two teams. Bryan now lives in Olympia, WA with his wife Carla.

Listeners can talk to Dr. Bryan Laubscher or the host using toll free 1 (866) 687-7223. Listeners can also send short email questions or comments during the discussing using by sending e-mail during the program using drspace@thespaceshow.com, thespaceshow@gmail.com or dmlivings@yahoo.com.

Tune in and get the latest news and don’t hesitate to call in if you have a question or comment.

Early Bird Special – Last Call!

Just a reminder that July 15th is absolutely, positively the very last day you can sign-up to attend the upcoming Space Elevator Conference at the Early Bird special rates.  After that date, full-price will be charged.

This year’s Conference, to be held August 25-27 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, promises to be the best ever and we sure hope you can attend.

Be There or Be Square!

Reminder – All Fall Down is free for a limited time…

A few days ago, I posted about Vern McGeorge’s eBook, All Fall Down, and mentioned that it would be free (Kindle version) from July 4th through the 8th.  This offer is open now, so visit the website and download this eBook for free!

I asked Vern if he had any comments about the writing process or anything else he would like to share and he sent me this:

What can I say about the book?

Well, I’m glad I wrote it. It’s not been financially lucrative yet – still very much in starving artist mode – but as an avid reader, I have wanted for years to give something back to the world of books. Now,I have – and I am proud of the result.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. It is harder than it looks and I learned (and am still learning) many lessons along the way. Among them:

  • If you are trying to write a book that is accurate to a set of facts, do your research first. It is easier to revise before you write than after.
  • When all is said and done, you have to “un-write” as well. It took years to get to 140,000 words and a year to then get rid of 40,000 words. My style got leaner and more direct as I wrote so at the end, 2/3rds of the first 1/3rd of the book had to go. It was pure bloat and removing it left a much better book.
  • Pick a story that won’t let you go. Reading three bad novels and saying “I can do better than this” will get you started but when it gets tough, and it will, a story that you just cannot let go untold will pull you through.
  • Having someone else read your work and edit your work is invaluable.
  • When you are done, you are not done. Getting the book published or self publishing as an indie author is every bit as hard as writing the book in the first place. There has never been a better time to be an indie author, but it is hard work.

All Fall Down is 20% science-fiction and 80% techno-thriller. I’m glad about the former because I feel a sense of mission to keep telling people about the Space Elevator, but my next novel will be a pure techno-thriller about an EMP attack against the USA and America’s military response. I have three more space elevator novels in the queue and a planned series of interstellar colonization stories in the planning stages. Must write faster!

I don’t recall the quotes exactly, but Charles Sheffield said “don’t let a few facts get in the way of a good story.” Robert Heinlein said “above all else, the writer owes the reader an entertaining story.” I hope that I have done both, and that where my elevator differs from Dr. Edwards’ design, I have adequately set the record straight in my Afterword. I am always eager to do anything I can to get the word out about the space elevator and will gladly answer any questions about the space elevator or about writing at Spark of Ideation.

So, head on over to the website and get a copy of this book for yourself.