Six more days

Only six more days until the “Early Bird” registrations for the 2012 Space Elevator Conference, with significant reductions over the standard registration rates, expire.

As noted earlier, this year’s Conference is being held, for the first time, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  This venue should be a great backdrop for the conference and the Conference organizing committee has done a great job in getting everything ready.

The program is full and contains many relevant and insightful presentations.  The second issue of CLIMB should also be ready in time to present (and sell!) at the Conference.

So, get your registrations in by July 9th, or pay the full price – see you there!

All Fall Down

Veterans of the Spaceward’s Foundation Space Elevator Games have the pleasure of knowing Vern McGeorge.  He’s one of those guys who works tirelessly behind the scenes getting stuff done, getting stuff made, getting stuff fixed, so that the competitions can go on.  I have blogged about Vern’s contributions before, and that didn’t do him justice – he’s one of the good guys that just makes things happen.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across his first novel, All Fall Down, a story about (in Vern’s words):

When Col. Roberto di Vincente, driven to avenge the shooting of his wife by U.S. Marines, leads a paramilitary attack on the Space Elevator’s base platform anchored off the coast of Brazil, Marcus Gant, the deputy chief of security, is taken hostage along with most of Port Sheffield’s crew. Gant had hoped to live peacefully, far from the streets of Boston where his on-duty shooting of a child tore his family apart. When his boss is executed following a failed escape attempt, he is thrust into leadership of Port Sheffield’s nascent resistance movement.

Stephanie Petersen and the visiting VIPs, including the man di Vincente blames for the death of his wife, escape up the elevator during the attack. An enemy force, led by Major Eduardo Vieira, di Vincente’s ruthless second-in-command, follows in close pursuit. At Clarke Station, Stephanie is reunited with her estranged husband, Tom. Together they will make their stand.

Col. di Vincente intends to use the Space Elevator to lift small missiles high above the earth, giving his nuclear and biological weapons global reach. His goal is to coerce social justice from the temperate “haves” for the tropical “have-nots” who have been reduced to pariah status following a world-wide plague.

His financial backer, Daniel Falcao, and Major Vieira, plan to betray him and launch the missiles against major cities in the developed world so that Brazil can emerge from the resulting chaos as a world power.

Learning this, the President of the United States has set in motion Slam Dunk; simultaneous preemptive nuclear strikes against Port Sheffield and Clarke Station. Marcus, Stephanie, and Tom must race against time to prevent the destruction of the Space Elevator, the sacrifice of its crew, and the possible slaughter of two-billion people. 

Intrigued, I purchased the book on my Kindle (I love my Kindle – thank you wife!) and devoured it in two late-night sittings.  It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

And, to make things even better, Vern will be ‘selling’ All Fall Down for free, at Amazon, on the Kindle, from July 4th through July 8th.

The book’s Amazon website is here.  Vern’s blog, Spark of Ideation can be found here.

Just a note about the content – the Space Elevator in this story is not a tensile structure (which current thinking dictates it must be) but rather more in the mold of the one described by Sir Arthur C. Clarke in his Fountains of Paradise.  Vern talks about why he chose this model and many other considerations in the book’s Afterword.  Vern does have some additional Space Elevator novels in the pipeline and, well, that’s a story for another post.

“Getting to space on a thread…”

While reviewing some of the older Space Elevator Conference programs and trying to see if some of the presenters were still active in the SE arena, I ran across this 2007 paper by Major Jason Kent.

This paper, entitled “Getting to Space on a Thread – Space Elevator as an Alternative Access to Space” was a “Blue Horizons paper” written for the Center for Strategy and Technology for the Air War College.

Major Kent presented a couple of papers at the 2008 Space Elevator Conference and I remember having some very interesting discussions with him during one of the lunches.

Because a Space Elevator will allow such scalable, reliable (and relatively inexpensive) access to space, there is no question that it will be a very significant military asset to whoever controls it.  There is a viewpoint that if the world cooperatively builds a Space Elevator, then, perhaps, we can make it a ‘universal good’, much like, say, the Internet is.  Others (including me) are not so optimistic.

Regardless, it is very interesting to see a military evaluation of the Space Elevator and the article is (IMHO) well worth the read.

The Return of the Kansas City Space Pirates

Followers of this blog and/or the Space Elevator Games are very familiar with the Kansas City Space Pirates.  Captain Brian Turner and his fellow team members competed in several of the Space Elevator Games – Power Beaming competitions and acquitted themselves very well.

They have a new challenge they want to meet and that is to break the record for longest continuous flight of an aircraft fueled solely by wireless power-beaming.  Several days ago, they issued this Press Release, detailing what their plans are.  Money quote from the Release:

This August the KC Space Pirates will take the next step in the development of laser powered flight and in the art of wireless power beaming. We will attempt to keep a one pound robotic aircraft flying for 2 full days (48 hours), nearly 4 times the previous world record…The date of this attempt is set to coincide with the International Space Elevator Consortium’s ( annual conference in August of this year.

The current record is held by LaserMotive, also a veteran (and prize-winner) of the Power-Beaming competition.   With NASA ending its support for the Power-Beaming competition, it’s good to see that the spirit of competing is alive and well.

More to come soon – bring it on!

Space Elevator conference registration now open!

Registration is now open to attend the 2012 Space Elevator Conference.  Register prior to July 9th to take advantage of the “Early Bird Special” pricing!

As noted earlier, the conference this year will be held from August 25th through the 27th at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the first time in this venue and the first time that the conference has been organized by the International Space Elevator Consortium.

Lots of events and speakers are scheduled and, if the ‘early returns’ are any indication, this promises to be the best conference ever.

Make your plans now and we’ll see you there!

ISEC April, 2012 eNewsletter released

Hot off the press is the April, 2012 SEC eNewsletter.  Stories covered include the Space Elevator Conferences’s move to the Museum of Flight, ISEC’s new schedule of yearly events, announcements regarding the Call for Papers for both the Space Elevator Conference and the second issue of CLIMB, ISEC’s move to its new website address and announcements about the upcoming European and Japanese space elevator competitions.

So, check it out and, if you want to be put on the ISEC email list so that you will not miss any future issues (it’s free!), just visit the ISEC website and sign up.

Space Elevator Conference moves to the Museum of Flight!

ISEC is very proud to announce that this year’s Space Elevator Conference, the first organized by ISEC, will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  Conference dates are August 25-27.

The official Press Announcement:

For 2012, the Space Elevator Conference moves to The Museum of Flight!

The International Space Elevator Consortium is proud to announce that the 2012 Space Elevator Conference will now be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  The conference dates remain the same, August 25th through August 27th, 2012, with the Family Science Fest being held on August 25th.  Come experience learning, brainstorming, and working together surrounded by an atmosphere of invention and discovery!  Conference and family science fest attendees will be stimulated and energized by the planes hanging from the Great Gallery glass ceiling or watching a jet take off from the Boeing Field runway.  This will be a fantastic new venue for the conference!

3-Day Technical Conference
The theme of this year’s technical conference is “Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator”.  There is still time to submit your abstracts and papers for the technical conference.  The abstract deadline has been extended to May 18th (the draft and final paper deadlines are still the same).  Abstracts and papers are coming in steadily and we want to be sure we have a great set of presentations for the technology, business, legal, and outreach sessions.

Family Science Fest

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 25th will also be held at the Museum of Flight.  This event is open to the public and is included in the Museum of Flight admission price.  The Family Science Fest includes Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, a youth robotics competition, exhibits from universities and science clubs, and much more.

Registration, Lodging, and More Info Coming Soon
More details of the conference technical program and the Family Science Fest will be posted on the conference website ( in early May including registration, lodging, and other information as it becomes available.  Please note the the conference web site will be updated with a new look and feel the end of April.

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 discussion with people working to make the Space Elevator a reality!

So, mark your calendars and make your reservations.  This Conference promises to be the most exciting ever!

Electronic version of CLIMB now available

An electronic, pdf version of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, is now available.  For those of you who didn’t want to pay for the print version, you can purchase an electronic version for only $1.99.

Just visit the ISEC store and click on the PayPal button.

Volume 2 of CLIMB is well underway and we’re on track to release it at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (August 25-27).  And, speaking of the Space Elevator Conference, stay tuned because a major announcement about it is imminent!

6 years? OMG, 6 years!!

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…

Stay tuned!

(5 year anniversary post here.  4 year anniversary post here.  3 year anniversary post here.  2 year anniversary post here.  1 year anniversary post here.)

2012 JSETEC is in the works

This coming August, the Japan Space Elevator Association  (JSEA) will be holding it’s fourth annual JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical and Engineering Competition).  Each year, the JSEA gets more and more ambitious with its competition and this year, they are aiming for a racecourse more than a kilometer high!

Planning details are still sketchy, but I have received the following additional information from Devin Jacobson of the JSEA:

The next space elevator competition here looks like it will be the first week of August 8/1-8/5.  We will probably have a narrower/thicker tether 25mm x 1.2mm, and plan to get up past 1km this time.  There is quite a bit of activity due to the recent report from Obayashi Consortium that they plan to build a space elevator by 2050.

We will welcome any teams from the US that want to participate, so I will pass on the competition details once they are fixed.  Sounds like end of June or July will need to be the final decision to come or not. Please feel free to pass the information on as well.  Again there is no prize money but participation fee should also not be too much, probably cost much more just for the trip to Japan 🙂

If you are interested in participating,  you can contact Devin directly at devinjacobson [at]

The JSEA also recently held a workshop for JSETEC, 2012.

Previous posts about the 2009 competition here, the 2010 competition here and the 2011 competition here.  There are also several other posts related to these games on this blog – just key in “JSETEC” in the blog’s search window to view them.

Congratulations again to the JSEA – we look forward to an even bigger and better JSETEC this year!

Mechanic Panic

A new game, Mechanic Panic, has been issued for Apple platforms (iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone) with the Space Elevator as a backdrop and, guess, what, the Space Elevator gets destroyed – how original!  From the game description:

“A catastrophic explosion has rocked the world’s first Space Elevator. Thankfully you’re on the job! As the fearless mechanic, jump as high as you can to save all the people in peril. The environment around you is crumbling. Beware of the many hazards that will come crashing down.”

For a limited time, the game is free, so if you’re a fan of the Space Elevator and an Apple aficionado, head on over to the iTunes link to download it.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke once famously said that the Space Elevator would be built “50 years after people stopped laughing about it.”  Perhaps a more modern take on this is that a Space Elevator will be built “20 years after people stop joking about it crashing”…

EDDE gets funded!

Most anyone in the space elevator community knows who Jerome Pearson is.  He’s one of the people who independently re-invented the idea of Space Elevator, wrote a seminal paper on the subject and provided much of the rigorous engineering and mathematical underpinnings that such a structure would need.

He attended the 2010 Space Elevator Conference (along with Yuri Artsutanov) and gave a presentation on his “Electro-Dynamic Debris Eliminator” (EDDE) idea, an idea for a low-cost solution to getting rid of large pieces of space debris.

I am happy to report that his idea has now received funding from NASA to begin serious studies and experimentation for this effort.  You can read more about that here.  And you can visit the website of his company, Star Research, here, and his page on the EDDE project here.

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that the inaugural issue of our space elevator Journal CLIMB very proudly included a paper written by Jerome on the EDDE project.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this initial project is successful and leads ultimately to a solution for the Space Debris problem that is of increasing concern to everyone who pays attention to these things.


When the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) was first formed, the only website available with the ISEC acronym was  Much later on, became available and we snatched it up.  You can visit either URL and see the ISEC website, but our internal/external email addresses have always been, not  This has been due to the vagaries of Google email and our own internal procrastination to ‘bite the bullet’ to favor one URL over the other.

We are now finally transitioning our email to the address.  These new email addresses are now active and the email addresses we have used in the past are being phased out.

So, the upshot of this all is this – if you want to contact ISEC or anyone in ISEC, you will need to start using the following email addresses:

  • Ted Semon – President and Director (
  • Peter Swan – Vice-President and Director (
  • Martin Lades – Secretary and Director (
  • Skip Penny – Treasurer and Director (
  • Ben Shelef – Director and Technical Pillar lead (
  • Markus Klettner – Director (
  • Bryan Laubscher – Director (
  • Ben Jarrell – Legal Pillar lead (
  • Matt Gjertsen – Public Relations Pillar lead (
  • David Horn – Conferences Chairman (
  • CLIMB – The Space Elevator Journal (
  • Membership services (
  • Customer Service (

All other ISEC email addresses are going to be phased out in the next few weeks, so please, update your address books.  If you try to send an email to an email address after that time, you’ll get a polite email informing you that the old addresses no longer work and that you have to use the new ones…

And, if you want to talk about something related to ISEC, please feel free to email me at

Thank you!

Some truly sad news…

I have just found out that Gaylen Hinton, the first person to be awarded an “Honorable Mention” in the Artsutanov Prize competition and a contributor to Volume 1 of CLIMB, has recently passed away after a long bout with cancer. Gaylen’s online Obituary can be found here.  It’s fascinating reading and just goes to show how so many times we know so little about our fellow human beings…

The last time I heard from Gaylen was several months ago; we were working on the final edits to one of his contributions to CLIMB.  He apologized to me for being tardy in his response saying that he had been diagnosed with “terminal cancer”.  As a cancer survivor myself, I do have some small understanding of what he was going through, though I’ve been much luckier than he was.

Gaylen was never afraid to ruffle feathers – indeed, his Honorable Mention paper talked about his take on ‘misconceptions’ regarding Space Elevator thought and development.  Gaylen passed away before Volume 1 of CLIMB was published so he never saw the final product, but he did know that two of his articles had been included, so we have that as a small consolation.

RIP Gaylen – you will be sorely missed by our community.

(Picture thumbnaiil is of Gaylen being congratulated by Yuri Artsutanov on being awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Artsutanov Prize competition.  This picture was taken at the 2010 Space Elevator Conference held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington.  Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version of the picture.)

Michael Laine to appear on The Space Show

On Tuesday, March 20th, Michael Laine (of LiftPort fame) will appear on Dr. David Livingston’s The Space Show.  From the Who’s On The Space Show This Week email:

We welcome back MICHAEL LAINE of Liftport to discuss his Lunar Space Elevator Concept. Visit his website for more information. 

The show will be aired at 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) and you are encouraged to call in to ask Michael any questions you might have.

And, you can view the Space Show Website Newsletter to get a detailed bio of Michael as well as information about how to call into the show.

(Image thumbnail of “Moonlifter”, from the Liftport site).  Visit the Liftport 2.0 page – Art of the Elevator to see a full-size version of this picture as well as many more images that have been posted).

Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Space Elevator

I’m a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor (not so sure about the person) and one of my favorite movies of his was Total Recall.  Futuristic, lots of mind-twists, unseen aliens, etc., all things which appeal to a science fiction geeks like me.

In a recent posting on io9, David Hughes tells us how a sequel of Total Recall nearly came into being several times – and, in one of the possible versions, Arnold Schwarzenegger (playing Quaid), goes to work on a construction site for a Seattle-based Space Elevator.  From the article:

Dejected and financially dependent on Rekall, Quaid finds a job on the construction site of a Seattle-based ‘space elevator’ — one of Arthur C. Clarke’s proposed constructs tethering an orbital space station to the Earth, allowing payloads to be transported cheaply to and from space.

Meanwhile, an imminent presidential election draws Quaid’s attention to an electoral campaign by Gloria Palomares, the President from his dream, denounced by her opponents as a “mutant lover” for promising to hold a referendum on Mars’ independence if she is elected. Torn between his feelings for Melina (whom he now believes to be a construct of Rekall) and Renee, one of Mrs Palomares’ campaign volunteers, Quaid becomes involved with her political campaign, but is betrayed and framed for an explosion which wrecks the space elevator. Imprisoned for six months in a space prison known as the Pasternak Institute for the Criminally Insane, he manages to escape, and rejoins what remains of the rebels, who tell him of Melina’s death.

Why do they always blow up the Space Elevator?  And, a Space Elevator based in Seattle?  That’s more than 47° north of the equator.  I don’t think so – but hey, it’s Hollywood!

The article is a difficult, confusing read and, I guess it was supposed to be as it is an excerpt from Hughes’ book, Tales From Development Hell.  Reading this excerpt, it seems amazing that anything actually gets done in Hollywood.

But Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Space Elevator?  I’d definitely pay to see that…

(Picture thumbnail of Arnold as they attempt to reprogram him in Total Recall – click on it to see a larger version.)


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”.
  • .

  • 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.
  • .


  • 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).

LaserMotive Tweetup!

Tomorrow, Friday, March 2nd, beginning at 1pm Eastern (10am Pacific), LaserMotive is hosting a Tweetup to mark their 5 year anniversary.

5 years.  Geez.  Lest anyone forget, this is the ONLY team that has won any prize money in the NASA / Spaceward Space Elevator Games.

And, as a side note, though the NASA / Spaceward sponsored power-beaming competition seems to be ‘on hiatus’ as they say, I think the future of space-elevator related competition is bright (pun intended).

So, get on Twitter tomorrow, and tweet Lasermotive @lasermotive.  Feel free to send them questions or just say hello!

Congratulations LaserMotive for reaching yet another milestone!

(Picture thumbnail – courtesy of NASA – is of winning LaserMotive team and their Climber from the 2009 Space Elevator Games – Power Beaming competition.  Click on it to see a full-size picture.)

ISEC February, 2012 eNewsletter released

Just released – the ISEC February, 2012 eNewsletter!

Lots of articles including the announcement of CLIMB, status on the IAA Cosmic Study, the 2012 Space Elevator Conference, the 2012 ISEC Theme and a Call for Papers for both the next volume of CLIMB and the Space Elevator Conference.

If you’re not receiving this eNewsletter directly and would like to do so, just sign up – it’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Happy Reading!

io9 is skeptical…

Robert Gonzalez from io9 is skeptical about the promotional claim made by Obayashi that they want to build a Space Elevator by 2050.  While I indicated in my own post on the matter that I thought the Obayashi story was “more concept than engineering“, I’m not as skeptical as he is about the final end-product…

Mr. Gonzalez writes that “Getting carbon nanotubes into this ribbon configuration is a significant technical hurdle“.  Actually, the Japanese solved that particular problem a few years ago.  The Japanese entry (from Shizuoka University) in the 2009 Strong Tether competition WAS in a “ribbon configuration”.  In my post on the matter, I noted that the Shizuoka entry looked “like a tape from an old VCR Cassette”.  It wasn’t strong enough, of course, but it was in the ribbon configuration.

CNT TetherBut let’s assume that Mr. Gonzalez was referring to the actual specific strength of the tether, not it’s configuration, and there, surely, we do have a long way to go.  But progress is being made.  At the University of Cincinnati CNT Workshop held in October of last year, I saw, for the first time, a heavy emphasis on the potential specific strength properties of CNTs.  In previous year’s workshops, speakers had talked about using CNTs in electrical devices, or combined with ceramics to make unique materials, or used in medical devices, etc., but very little about making “long, strong tethers”.  This has changed – at least half of the speakers in the 2011 Workshop talked about work they were doing, and problems they were running into, in exploiting the specific strength properties of CNTs.  And, a second possible material has come onto the scene – Boron Nitride nanotubes (BNNTs).  This material, while not naturally occurring in nature, is fairly easily synthesized and it seems to have nearly the same potential specific strength properties that CNTs do.

You know, I really need to put up a post about that workshop – it was very informative and very encouraging…

And finally, lets not forget the fact that this is the Japanese.  Their corporations tend to have a longer-term outlook than many others do.  And Obayashi is a MAJOR company in Japan – lots of bucks, er yen, to potentially put into a project like this.

So, I’m not putting the champagne on ice yet, but I think there is a reasonable chance that this is more than just a pipe-dream.

(Picture thumbnail is of the entry into the 2009 Strong Tether competition from Shizuoka University.  Click on it to see a full-size version of the picture.)

A Space Elevator by 2050?

I had several people email me today with the story that the Japanese Construction company Obayashi is making plans to build a space elevator.

The original story is in Obayashi’s Quarterly Magazine #53 and was announced in a Press Release which you can view online, in Japanese of course (you can use Google Chrome to view it and translate it into English).  The Press Release also shows a few concept drawings of the tether and Base Station.

Their general approach seems to be along the lines of the Edwards-Westling model, i.e. a 100 100,000 km long tether made out of CNTs stretching from a base station on earth (the concept drawing seems to indicate an ocean location) to a counterweight in space.  They describe Climbers, possibly powered by ‘magnetic linear motors’ traveling at ~200km/hr and a space station located at geosynchronous orbit.  They also talk about Solar panels located at the space station, beaming power back to earth.

What they DON’T say is how they will power the Climbers nor do they discuss how CNTs are going to be spun into something useful (the major sticking point right now, IMHO), etc.  From the Daily Yomiuri Online article:

Whether carbon nanotubes can be mass-produced economically enough and whether various organizations from around the world can work together are two key issues facing the development of the space elevator, according to the company.

“At this moment, we cannot estimate the cost for the project,” an Obayashi official said. “However, we’ll try to make steady progress so that it won’t end just up as simply a dream.”

The story is also on the Japan Space Elevator Assocation (JSEA) website and I hope they can work together on this project.  Right now, it’s obviously more “concept” than “engineering”, but as one of my readers put it “Good to see they are still excited in Japan.”

(Picture thumbnail of Tether and Space Station from the Obayashi Magazine Press Release.  Click on it to see a larger version or visit the article to see still more concept pictures).

LEGOs and the Space Elevator

Over the past several years, I have posted multiple entries on this blog about Space Elevators and Legos.  The two seem to go together like fish and chips or ham and eggs or Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.  Oh, wait…

For several years now, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) has had an annual competition (LASER) devoted to children building models of Space Elevators and, this past year, the American Space Elevator Conference added a similar event to its schedule.

And now a new book has been published titled The Cult of LEGO, by John Baichtal and Joe Meno.  It is an absolutely fascinating look into this whole genre, everything from the history of LEGOs, Minifigs, LEGO art, the whole robotics – Mindstorm thing (which I really would like to do one day)., etc.  The last chapter of the book, entitled “Serious LEGO” talks about LEGOs being used for Autism Therapy and “Open Prosthetics”; amputees using LEGOs to help design the next generation of prostheses – talk about being Über cool.

And, in that same chapter, Serious LEGO, is a sub-section entitled “Prototyping a Space Elevator“.  Here the authors discuss the LEGO model of a Space Elevator that the representatives from the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) brought to the 2008 Space Elevator Conference, complete with pictures (I had earlier posted about the JSEA LEGO Space Elevator here).

While not inexpensive (prices on Amazon for this book currently run from $20 on up), it is a really fine look into the whole cult of LEGO.  I’ve skimmed through the entire book and am now about 1/4 of the way through a serious read of it.

Highly, highly, recommended…

And, on a related note, there are now several pictures posted on Flickr of entries into last summer’s The Next Generation of Space Travel competition.  The winning entry was, fittingly enough, of a Space Elevator.  Shown is a picture of the winning entry.  Click on the thumbnail to view a full-size version of the picture.  You can see more pictures of this entry here.

CLIMB Volume 2 – Call for Papers

CLIMB CoverNow that ISEC has finally succeeded in publishing and releasing Volume 1 of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, ISEC has now issued its official “Call for Papers” for Volume 2.

This is the official “Call for Papers” for the second issue of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal.  We recently released our first issue of CLIMB – you can take a look at it / purchase it here:

Your article must have some relevance to the Space Elevator itself or to technologies that will be needed to build and operate a Space Elevator.

Article submission deadline is May 15th (this year!) as we want to have this issue published in time for the 2012 Space Elevator Conference (tentatively scheduled for August of this year).

We will soon have the format specifications ready.  If you are interested in submitting an article, please send me, ted [AT], an email letting me know.

The first issue of CLIMB is something we’re very proud of and, with your help, we can make the second issue even better.

Thank you.

Ted Semon
President – ISEC

We have again assembled a top-notch review team and we’re confident that the second issue of CLIMB will be as technically excellent as the first issue was.

Learning new tricks from spiders…

Nature Magazine CoverIn the February 2, 2012 issue of Nature, there is an article entitled “Nonlinear material behaviour of spider silk yields robust webs”.  This article is, unfortunately, paywalled, but you can probably find a copy of the magazine at your local bookstore.  The Editor’s Summary of the article is as follows:

Spider silk is one of nature’s ‘super-materials’. Its remarkable mechanical properties include high extensibility and strength comparable to that of steel. But Markus Buehler and colleagues show that it is not just these virtues that make silk ideal for web construction. Silk’s nonlinear stress response — linear at low strain, suddenly softening as strain increases then stiffening prior to failure — is also critical. This behaviour allows webs to keep their shape when experiencing small, distributed loads such as those exerted by wind. But during strong local deformations, such as those caused by falling debris, the geometrical arrangement of the threads and the nonlinear stress response combine to limit damage to the area near the impact site, so that the web remains functional.

What does this have to do with Space Elevators?  Well, a lot actually… We all know that the tether must have a minimum specific strength in order to fulfill its function as railway line.  But it is also going to have to absorb various stresses and debris hits, etc. and not catastrophically fail.  The design of the tether will have to incorporate knowledge such as this to make it more robust.  Maybe the eventual Space Elevator tether will look like a Hoytether.

This article was written by a team of authors, one of them being Prof. Nicola Pugno of Italy.  If that name sounds familiar to longtime readers of this blog, it should, as Prof. Pugno has presented at several EuroSpaceward conferences, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Artsutanov prize competition held by ISEC and is also an author of a peer-reviewed paper in ISEC’s Journal, CLIMB.

Prof. Pugno’s article in CLIMB, Modeling the Self-Healing of Biological or Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials, points to yet another possible tool/technique that can be used to make the eventual Space Elevator Tether more robust – the potential of ‘self-healing’ tethers, at least at the nano scale.

One of the biggest objections that the uninformed give to a Space Elevator is “What if it breaks”?  We can design in so many ways to handle this; Make the raw tether’s specific strength more than it needs to be, keep it out of the way of large debris objects by actively inducing oscillations as necessary, design it so that micro-debris hits don’t cause it to catastrophically fail, monitor these debris hits so that weakened portions of the tether are replaced before they fail, have the material be able to ‘heal itself’, at least at the nano-scale, and probably some others I’m not thinking of at the moment.

A very interesting article and well worth finding the magazine for…

Space Elevator Pocketbook ported to iPhone

Early last year, I posted about an iPad app developed by Mr. Shigeo Saito of the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA).  Recently I learned that he has ported this application from the iPad to the iPhone – so, if you have an iPhone (and, I think there are a few of you that do), then this is good news.

The app is only $1.99 and I’m sure it’s well worth the money.

You can find out more about the app here.

(Thumbnail is of a snapshot from an iPhone running this app.  Click on it to see a larger version or visit the app website to see more screenshots.)

New Space Elevator article – and crunchy ice cream…

David Appell, PhD and independent science journalist, has penned an article about the Space Elevator, partly based on his experience attending last year’s Space Elevator conference in Redmond.

At some point, it’s supposed to appear in the UK Magazine “Physics World” but you can read it now on his website.  It’s a fairly comprehensive article.

And the relation to ice cream?  Well, that’s in the article – supplemental reading here.

It’s finally here!

The first issue of ISEC’s Space Elevator Journal is now here!  Volume 1 / Number 1 (publication date – December, 2011) is hot off the presses and will soon be sent out to all ISEC members (past and present) and Journal contributors.

The Journal consists of 8 peer-reviewed Papers plus some additional articles that I think our readers will enjoy.  If I do say so myself, the content level of this Journal is quite high.  We’re now working on making it available in ePub format and then will begin to plan for the next volume of the Journal.

As mentioned earlier, all members of ISEC will be receiving this Journal in the mail soon.  If you are not a member of ISEC but want to purchase a copy, it will also soon be available on the ISEC website.  But rather than buy it there, why not join ISEC instead? You will get a copy of the Journal mailed to you as part of your membership benefits and you will help us move this most magnificent engineering project forward.

(The photo thumbnails are of the Journal cover and an inside view of the photo of Yuri Artsutanov and the Foreword that he graciously wrote for our Journal.  Click on either of them to see a full-size version.)

Update Feb 9, 2012 – You can now order this hard-copy publication at

Google X and the Space Elevator – and trickle-down economics…

Catching up on an older item here…

Over at the Space Elevator Reference, there was a post last November about a new product lab at Google, called Google X.  The original story referred to is here.

And, it didn’t take long to find the naysayers…  In the Times Science online edition of November 21st, columnist Jeffrey Kluger likens the Space Elevator to ‘…trickle-down economics’ – one of those ideas that ‘just won’t go away’.  He lists a long litany of reasons why a Space Elevator ‘probably never will’ exist.  He mentions the Coriolis effect, space debris, having to put the base station at sea, etc., etc., etc. and winds up estimating that the system will cost ‘$13.6 kazillion zillion’.  Sigh.

Maybe I’ll send him a copy of the ISEC Journal (real soon now, promise!) and our report on Space Debris Mitigation…

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know, it’s been a long time since I put up a post – I just needed a break from blogging for a while.

But I’m back and ready to get you up-to-date on the latest goings-on in the Space Elevator community.  Many exciting events are in the works including the imminent publishing of the first ISEC Journal, early planning on the 2012 Space Elevator Conference and much, much more.

In the meantime, please enjoy this holiday picture from Professor Pierre Rochus from the University of Liège in Belgium.  You can click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version of the picture.

Happy Holidays!

The Space Elevator conference and io9

Over at io9, they have a summary posted about the recently completed Space Elevator Conference.  I’ll be doing my own in the near future, but thought I would link to this for your enjoyment.

You should especially check out the brief interview with Mark Haase.  Mark is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati and a longtime fan of the space elevator.  He gave one of the presentations on Friday, the “carbon nanotube day”.  He has an interesting comparison between the development of carbon nanotubes and the development of aluminum.

I have one problem with the io9’s graphic of the space elevator though, it has a very ‘Chinese theme’.  As I’ve written before, in the long run I don’t care who builds the space elevator as long as it gets built, but I’ll be very, very, very disappointed in my fellow Americans if we don’t do it first…

And finally, the article was written by Annalee Newitz – Annalee and I have corresponded before via email.  This year she attended the conference and I had the pleasure of meeting her in person – You have a great site Annalee and thanks for coming to the Conference!

The 2011 Strong Tether Competition

The 2011 Space Elevator Games – Strong Tether Challenge was held yesterday, August 12th, at the 2011 Space Elevator Conference.

This competition is part of the NASA Centennial Challenges program, a program funded by Congress and run by NASA, with the purpose of fostering new technologies.  Successful competitors are awarded prize money.  For the Strong Tether Challenge, there is a prize pool of $2Million for any entry that meets all the benchmarks.

NASA doesn’t run the competitions themselves.  Instead, they partner with organizations who run the actual Games.  These organizations set the rules (with NASA’s review and approval), they arrange the venue, they find the teams, etc.  For the Strong Tether Challenge and the Power Beaming Challenge, the Spaceward Foundation is the organizing partner.  These two competitions are packaged together by the Spaceward Foundation and labeled “The Space Elevator Games” as Power-Beaming and Strong Tethers are crucial components of building a Space Elevator.

When the competitions are held, NASA sends a representative to judge the results and to make the final determination as to whether or not a prize will be awarded.

This year’s strong Tether competition was held, as mentioned earlier, at the annual Space Elevator Conference.  This is the third year that the competition has been held here and it seems to be a perfect venue.  The facilities are absolutely first rate and there is already a gathering of space elevator enthusiasts and, this year, carbon nanotube (CNT) scientists and researchers.

To actually test the tethers, you need a machine that stretches the tether to failure and records the value at which the tether broke.  Spaceward built the machine that does this testing.  A tether is mounted on the test rack.  A hydraulic pump is then manually pumped, putting strain on the tether.  When that tether breaks, the readout device shows the measurement of the level that the tether actually broke at.  This measurement is then entered into a formula which also contains the length and weight values for that tether and final score is computed.  If the score exceeds one of the prize benchmarks, then that tether is a prize-winner.

Two teams competed this year.  One was an individual and first-time competitor in the Strong Tether Competition, Flint Hamblin.  If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because he was part of team which competed in the Power-Beaming competition some years back.  Flint has decided to go after the tougher nut to crack, making a strong tether.  The second team was Odysseus Technologies, Inc – a team which also competed last year.

Flint brought three tethers to the competition.  Each tether was measured (weight and length), put on the test rack, and then stressed until they failed.  His first tether needed a score of 898 pounds, but broke at 153 pounds.  The second tether needed a score of 948 pounds but broke at 264 pounds.  The third tether needed a score of 452 pounds but broke at 154 pounds.  The reason for the different metrics was that the tethers themselves were of different weights and length.  The prize competition formula normalizes these measurements so that all tethers have an equal shot of winning.  Flint’s tethers were made with off-the-shelf components plus some “secret sauce”.  As a newbie in the competition, Flint stated he didn’t expect to win this year, but wanted some baseline measurements he can use to help judge future year’s results.

The second competitor, Odysseus Technologies (headed by Dr. Bryan Laubscher), brought only one tether, but it was made out of carbon nanotubes.  This tether however, broke at a very low level.  It’s target score was 2,000 pounds, but it broke at just 11 pounds.  This tether did not perform as well as the CNT tether that Odysseus brought last year, so obviously something adverse happened.  Whatever it was, this means that we concluded another year of Strong Tether competition without awarding any prize money.

However, hope springs eternal.  Attending the conference this year were Dr. Vesselin Shanov and graduate student Mark Haase of the University of Cincinnati and Dr. Boris Yacobson and Dr. Vasilii Artyukhov of Rice University.  They were very enthusiastic about what they saw and expressed a strong interest in having their departments work on competition entry.  With the resources they have behind them, this should provide a quantitative leap in the entries for next year.

So, until 2012…

(Picture thumbnails:  Topmost is Sam Ortega, one of the NASA representatives attending the competition.  Next is Ben Shelef, principal of the Spaceward Foundation.  As part of his introductory speech, he is showing a piece of a cable we obtained from the Puget Sound Rope Company.  Next is Flint Hamblin, showing one of his tethers.  Fourth is the carbon nanotube tether from Odysseus Techologies.  And last is a picture of the two competitors.  Dr. Bryan Laubscher from Odysseus Technologies is on the left while Flint Hamblin is on the right.  As always, clicking on any of the thumbnails will give you a full-size picture).

2011 Space Elevator Games – Strong Tether Competition – is Friday

undefinedOn Friday, August 12th, the next installment of the Strong Tether Competition of the Space Elevator Games, one of the NASA Centennial Challenges, will take place.  It will be held on the first day of the Space Elevator Conference and is part of the ISEC theme this year of “Longer, stronger tethers – 30MYuri or bust!”

It looks like we have a couple of competitors this year and we are all hopeful that they can raise the bar on tether strength and help point the way to a material strong enough to build a Space Elevator.

Like last year, the competition will be live video-streamed for your viewing pleasure.  The URL for the livestream is here, and the competition is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm, US Pacific time.  If you are unable to follow the competition live, I will be Tweeting the activities as they occur.

And today, on a related note, several of us visited Puget Sound Rope, one of the Cortland Cable companies.  They are located in Anacortes, about an hour and a half north of Redmond.  We had an absolutely fascinating tour of their factory and I took lots of pictures and videos – I will post these in the next few days.  But I wanted to share a YouTube video with you that they gave me the link to.  This video is a compressed version of a test-to-failure of a big, big rope.  The machine that does this testing is truly industrial strength – and it’s our hope that a machine like this will be needed some day to test a space elevator tether.

Enjoy – and stay tuned to Friday’s competition!


Space Elevator Conference begins Friday!

Friday, August 12th, marks the official start of the 2011 Space Elevator Conference.  I’ve posted about this conference on this blog ad nauseum so will just refer you to some links (here, here, here, here and here).

If you live in the Seattle area and haven’t yet registered, it’s not too late.  And, if you’re into carbon nanotubes and live in the Seattle area, you really, really, should attend – you’ll find it very worth your while.

See you there!

The Space Elevator Analysis Spreadsheet

Long-time space elevator fan Maurice Franklin has created a very interesting document, the Space Elevator Analysis Spreadsheet.  He explains it as follows:

The Space Elevator Analysis Spreadsheet provides you with the ability to calculate the characteristics of a Space Elevator and vary the inputs to those calculations.  Thus the spreadsheet allows you to see the impact upon the mass, capacity, time to build and other important aspects of a Space Elevator when different strength of ribbon, type of deployment spacecraft, efficiency of climber power array or other critical choices are made.  As provided, this spreadsheet follows closely the choices and calculations made by Dr. Bradley Edwards in his NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts proposal, though the author has attempted to validate the calculations independently of his work.

The author has three goals for this spreadsheet.  First, that Space Elevator enthusiasts wishing to dig into the physics (and thus the math) behind the dynamics of a Space Elevator will find this spreadsheet a useful tool for that purpose.  Second, that individuals who have critiques of the physics of a Space Elevator as laid out by Dr. Edwards, and interpreted here by the author, will have a reference against which to make a case for different calculations.  Third, that anyone proposing alternative Space Elevator configurations will have be able to use this spreadsheet to work through the impacts of their configuration across the many aspects of the Space Elevator system in a consistent and complete manner.

The author looks forward to getting feedback from users of the spreadsheet, whether it be improvements in usability, alternative configuration scenarios, corrections to the physics and math, or anything else.  Contact information for the author can be found on the first tab of the spreadsheet.

In addition to creating this spreadsheet, Maurice is a former employee of Microsoft and is one of the chief organizers of the Space Elevator Conference.

This spreadsheet is going to have a permanent home on my blog.  At the top, in the section which used to be marked “Translation Project” is now the “SE Spreadsheet”.  As new versions are created, they will be updated here and be made available to all enthusiasts and potential collaborators (the Translation Project page is now on the ISEC website).

Thanks Maurice – this is one cool document and should prove be of great use!

Official Space Elevator Conference Poster released

It’s still not too late to register – the 2011 Space Elevator Conference, to be held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington, is only a few days away.  This year’s conference is going to be very good and somewhat different in than in year’s past – an entire day, Friday, is going to be devoted to developments in the CNT arena – developments that are crucial to building a Space Elevator.

And, the Space Elevator Conference committee has released their official 2011 SE Poster.  Please feel free to print it out, post it, send it around to your friends – be the first one on your block with this poster in your window!

See you there!

“We welcome Science on this program along with Food & Shopping”

As I blogged about previously, David Horn and Maurice Franklin, two of the co-chairs of the upcoming Space Elevator Conference, appeared on KING TV on the New Day Northwest show.

David and Maurice did, IMHO, an excellent job in explaining the concept of a space elevator and talking about the upcoming Space Elevator conference and NASA/Spaceward Strong Tether Challenge.  They also explained local area (Seattle) tie-ins to the Conference and to the Space Elevator.

You can view the show online here – Great job guys!

And, it’s still not to late to register to attend the Conference – the registration link is here.  It promises to be the best conference ever.  Friday is dedicated to talking about carbon nanotubes with several invited experts attending and giving presentations.  Saturday and Sunday are devoted to talking about all aspects of the Space Elevator.  There’s a family track, a Lego competition, the NASA/Spaceward $2Million Strong Tether Challenge and much more.

Oh, and where did the title for this blog post come from?  Watch the interview and find out ?

Dr. Bryan Laubscher to appear on The Space Show

This coming Sunday, July 24th, from noon to 1:30pm Pacific time, Dr. Bryan Laubscher 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 Sunday, July 24, 2011 program from 12-1:30 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, 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. Odysseus Technologies, LLC is planning to compete in the 2011 challenge. 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, or

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

Space Elevator Conference Early Bird special ending soon

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 10th, is the last day for the “Early Bird” special rates for the Space Elevator Conference.  After that date, the prices will go up.

This is going to be a dynamite conference, as you can see from the Conference Program.  Experts from the University of Cincinnati and Rice University will be joining us on Friday to talk about strength possibilities (and limitations) of carbon nanotubes.  We have the NASA / Spaceward Strong Tether competition (with a $2 Million prize!) also coming up on Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, we have presentations on the current state-of-the-art thinking about this most wonderful of concepts.

So, register early and save some bucks (and then you can use those dollars to purchase a membership in ISEC!)

See you there!

Space Elevator Conference preview on KING TV

(Note – this appearance has been moved to the following day, July 14th, still at 11:00am (US Pacific time)

Next Wednesday, July 13th Thursday, July 14th, at 11:00am (US Pacific time), Space Elevator Conference organizers David Horn and Maurice Franklin are scheduled to appear on the New Day Northwest show on KING TV (Channel 5) in the Seattle Area.

David and Maurice will be talking about the conference and all the activities scheduled for it.  Every year, this conference gets better and better and they will have a lot to talk about.

With the truly high-powered lineup we have assembled for this year’s conference, we are sure that we will exceed the publicity generated last year (here’s a link to a KING TV story from last year’s conference).

So, if you can access this channel, tune in and get a sneak preview as to what you will see when you attend the conference.

Remember, only three more days for the Early Bird special rate – visit the conference website for more details.

See you there!

Space Elevator Conference All-Star lineup!

In keeping with the International Space Elevator Consortium’s (ISEC) theme of “Longer, stronger tethers – 30MYuri or Bust!“, the Space Elevator Conference has assembled an all-star lineup for its Friday, August 12th program.  This day of the program is dedicated to stronger tethers and the Guest speakers that have been assembled are simply awesome.

From the University of Cincinnati, home of one of the foremost Carbon Nanotube (CNT) labs in the world, the Space Elevator Conference welcomes Dr. Vesselin Shanov.  From Dr. Shanov’s biography:

Dr.Vesselin Shanov is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He received his MS in Electronic Materials from the Technological University of Sofia, Bulgaria in 1970. In 1980, he completed his PhD in Solid State Chemistry at the University of Regensburg, Germany and at the Technological University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Dr. Shanov has received several prestigious awards, including the Fulbright Award for Research and Teaching in USA, German Academic Foundation (DAAD) Grants, and the Bulgarian Patent Office Award for Distinguished Patent. He is a member of the Materials Research Society and former President of the Bulgarian Fulbright Alumni Association. Dr. Shanov`s recent breakthrough achievement, accomplished with the help of Dr. Schulz of University of Cincinnati, in growing the longest carbon nanotube arrays has attracted the attention of the scientific community.  NSF Special Press Release on this topic.

Dr. Shanov has published 145 papers, 14 patents, 3 books, and has been part of 40 funded proposals including many with NSF, the US NAVY, the US Air Force, and industries. He was selected a “Distinguished Professor” at the Department of CME for the 2006/2007 academic year.

Dr. Shanov co-directs the UC Nanoworld with Dr. Mark Schulz.Nanoworld is a large interdisciplinary teaching and research laboratory located in the College of Engineering.  It has unique facilities enabling synthesis, processing, and device fabrication based on nanostructured materials. Nanoworld carries an important mission helping to recruit, excite, and retain the undergraduate students at the UC College of Engineering.

Also from the University of Cincinnati and presenting at the conference is Mr. Mark Haase, a PhD student at the University.

And the Space Elevator Conference is very pleased to announce that Dr. Boris Yakobson from Rice University will also be attending the conference and presenting a paper on CNT strength.  From Dr. Yakobson’s biography:

Dr. Yakobson received his PhD from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1982.  He is currently the Karl F. Hasselmann Chair in Engineering, a Professor of Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering and a Professor of Chemistry at Rice University.

Professor Yakobson’s research interests are in theory and modeling of structure, kinetics, and properties of materials, derived from both macroscopic and fundamental molecular interactions. Computational methods and simulation are used to visualize and enhance the understanding of underlying physics and to identify the efficient degrees of freedom in complex systems, especially in connecting different length scales of description. He is an editorial board member of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research and a member of the American Physical Society and the Electrochemical Society.

Also presenting from Rice University is Dr.  Vasilii Artyukhov.

Additional speakers are scheduled for that day including Mr. Karen Ghazaryan, one of last year’s Honorable Mentions for the Artsutanov prize and Dr. Bryan Laubscher.  And, also on Friday is the NASA/Spaceward Strong Tether Challenge – with a prize purse of $2Million!

More details about the Space Elevator Conference can be found on the Conference website, including details for the presentations on Saturday and Sunday (August 13th and 14th).  And, until July 10th, you can reserve a place at the conference at the “Early Bird” special rate, a substantial discount off of the full rate.  But you have to hurry – the 10th is the absolute deadline for this.  After the 10th, you will need to pay the full conference fee.

This is high-powered stuff folks!  To my knowledge, this first day of the Space Elevator Conference is the first time, anywhere in the world, that a portion of a conference has been dedicated solely and only to the strength properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs).  Without a strong enough material, the entire idea of a Space Elevator is just an intellectual exercise, so we hope this will be the first in a succession of such gatherings.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that the speakers from the University of Cincinnati and Rice University are attending the conference through the courtesy of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC).  This is just another way in which we are working to make this dream a reality and shows you what your membership dollars go for.

Only 36 days to go – I hope to see you all at the Conference!

National Geographic and the Space Elevator

If you take a look at the latest issue (July, 2011) of the National Geographic Magazine, you will find a short, 2-page article about the Space Elevator, complete with a custom-drawn, concept diagram.

A few of us (Ben Shelef, Dr. Peter Swan and myself) have been working with the National Geographic team over the past several weeks to try and make this drawing and the explanation of it as technically accurate as possible.  Andy Petro of NASA, the Space Elevator Games (Centennial Challenge) and the Space Elevator Conference were also mentioned.

National Geographic was kind enough to give credit to the 3 of us and the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), so the word about the Space Elevator and ISEC continues to spread…

You can also view an interactive version of the article online here.

National Geographic!  Way cool…

EuSEC announces competitors

The first European Space Elevator Games (EuSEC) website now has a page devoted to the teams who will be participating.

It’s good to see our friends from ETC (Earth-Track-Controllers) involved in this competition.  They were great competitors and great sports at the 2007 Games held near Salt Lake city.

A total of 8 teams are listed.  The ‘usual suspects’ are included (Japan, US, Germany), but there are also teams from the UK, Iran and Macedonia!  Truly, the whole idea of “Space Elevator Games” is now becoming a much more international endeavor…


A few updates for you…

Over at Marc Boucher’s Space Elevator Reference (THE original Space Elevator website), Marc tells us that “The European Spaceward Association has made available a summary report from the recent 4th Luxembourg Carbon Nanotechnology and Space Elevator Systems as well as the book of abstracts.”  Full details and links can be found at his posting here.

A new book (Triads, The Gradient Stone) themed around a Space Elevator is now available.  From the abstract;

The Gradient Stone, an unidentifiable purple comet, collides with the space elevator creating the first disaster of spacetime mankind has ever faced, what’s even worse is that the hero Alex also seems to be the cause.  The greatest military killers are converging at the world’s first space elevator to form a new branch of military; Primary Resistance and Offensive Tactical Officer’s or PROTO’s are interplanetary paratroopers who possess not only the most advanced weapons and black ops technology but who rely on the ability to kill without emotion. This story follows the cocky and quick-tempered Alex Amador who is intrigued by the calm and collected Evelyn Artwright as they struggle to uncover the reasons why strange global events seem to be centered around Alex and his 19th century relative.

It’s available, it seems, only in Kindle eBook format for $.99.  You can learn more about it here and buy it directly from Amazon here.

Mr. Uche Ogbuji (follow his Tweets at @uogbuji) Tweets that “Also I’m honored my poem “Sendai Space Elevator” will appear in the “New Sun Rising” anthology to benefit Japan  From the website:

On March 11, 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the north of Japan. In the wake of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in the history of Japan, a state of nuclear emergency was declared, forcing the evacuation of thousands more.

The world watched, stunned.

We wanted to help. Just giving money didn’t seem like enough.

The idea for New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan was born.

Thanks to your overwhelming generosity, we’ve received amazing stories, poems, and art from around the world. Enough for half a dozen books.

Right now, we’re going through all the wonderful work you’ve sent, making some really difficult decisions. And we’re really excited about how amazing this book is going to be.

And we’re going to give one hundred percent of the proceeds to the Red Cross to aid the relief effort in Japan.

This sounds like a very cool project.

On a related note, I had previously blogged that there was now a Space Elevator app for the iPad.  The author of the app, Mr. Shigeo Saito sent me this update about it:

As you pointed out, this digital book is a revised version of the one you saw two years ago.  I added 4 pages of writing to the old one, changed all of background illustration and attached a movie file of the SE-technology competition held in Japan 2009.

This “Pocketbook” is a digest for beginners who will learn about the Space Elevator for the first time.  I hope this book will become a help in this topic for them.

As you know, a big earthquakes hit our country last week. This digital book was released the day after the earthquakes happened.  So I am going to pay some part of my profit of this book as contribution.

So, you can purchase this cool app and help out Japan at the same time.  Thanks Saito-san!

Japan and Space Solar Power

In the may Space Energy News eNewsletter, it references a January, 2011 article in the Japan newspaper Daily Yomiuri Online.  It talks about an experiment testing the feasibility of space-based solar power generation;

The technology would start by generating electricity from sunlight in space, convert the power into microwaves and then send it to Earth, the team said. The planned test will attempt to convert a strong electric current into microwaves and transmit them 10 meters away in a simulated outer space environment at Kyoto University.

I have blogged before about my skepticism about this technology.  I have no doubts that it is technically feasible.  No real scientific breakthroughs need to occur in order to have some sort of demonstration project set up.  But I am very doubtful about this being used to generate a significant portion of the world’s energy needs – the amount of energy we use is just too vast.  I think I calculated once that it would take solar satellites with the combined area of the country of India beaming down to an area the size of Italy, just to keep up with the forecasted increase in our energy demand.  The problem is just one of sheer bulk – an awful, awful lot of material would have to be put into geosynchronous orbit (and then maintained, perhaps an even bigger problem).

But, hope springs eternal.  Japan is certainly the ideal testing place.  They are a skilled, patient people, very technologically advanced and, with a falling birth rate (which, along with being more energy efficient, could translate to an actual drop in their energy needs).

I am waiting for the day when any proponent of space-based solar power actually ‘runs the numbers’ and states how much material (weight and size) will need to be launched into GEO to generate a significant amount of power – they seem to avoid this exercise…

No matter how efficient the energy gathering / transmission mechanism eventually is, the enormous amount of material to be launched into space to build such a system will demand a commercial earth-to-space transportation system, and that means a space elevator.  If you’re a fan of commercially available space-based solar power, you HAVE to hope that a Space Elevator is technically feasible.

On the website (yes, this is a real website), they allude to this by saying;

The next step will be figuring out how to reduce the cost of putting all that material in space. This will probably mean cheaper and more efficient launchers, but also lighter solar panels and equipment.

Space Elevator, space elevator, space elevator…

Announcing JSETEC2011

The Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) has announced the JSETEC2011 competition, to be held August 4th through the 8th.

Details can be found on the announcement webpage.  If, you’re like me and cannot read Japanese, open the page in Google Chrome and translate it to your language of choice.

This is the third JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition) event and I’m sure it will be the best, most ambitious one yet.  Among other changes, they are increasing the height of the climb from 300m to 600m!

In February, I had blogged about this competition, and included some videos that Mr. Shuichi Ohno, president of JSEA had sent me.

Congratulations JSEA – we look forward to an exciting event!

(Hat tip to reader Darren Coste for alerting me to this – thanks Darren!)

The Animals ride a Space Elevator

Here’s an animation that just showed up in my FeedDemon reader – 8 animals riding on a Space Elevator, part of a United Nations project:

“The Animal Conference on the Environment” multimedia project was launched in 1997 during the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Kyoto, Japan. The project includes children’s picture books promoting environmental awareness, and short animation video clips.

One of these videos (episode 5 – ‘With Love from Space’) has 8 animals (each one from a different country) taking a ride on a Space Elevator up to a Space Station.  The details they specified about the Space Elevator are correct (at least according to current thinking).  The tether (they call it a cable) is reeled outward (upwards and downwards) from GEO, the Base Station has an ocean location and , when the animals fail to get off at the first space station, it will take “days” to reach the next one (i.e. they have the Climber speed at the proper scale).

The video doesn’t give credit as to actually produced it, but I suspect the Japanese as many of the sites (one here) this video has been discussed at are Japanese, the conference kicking off the project was in Japan and when you Google this video, you find many of the titles / explanations in both English and Japanese.  Anyway, I thought it was cute…



A couple of updates for you;

First the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (you are attending, aren’t you?) will be holding a new event; RoboQuest.

This one-day event, Saturday, August 13, also held at the Microsoft Conference Center, will provide an opportunity for young people to learn more about the Space Elevator. Although details have not yet been finalized, we’re planning on having a robotics challenge for middle and high school students, demonstrations of FIRST Tech Challenge robots on a competition field and a LEGO Build Zone for kids of all ages to engineer their own space-faring vehicle.

For more details, check out the Conference eNewsletter.

Second, Brian Turner of the Kansas City Space Pirates let me know that he found out some more information about a YouTube video I had linked to a few days ago.  I didn’t know where the video had come from, but thanks to Brian’s sleuthing, I know now that this elevator climber is the product of three guys from the Afeka Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering.  You can read more about them here.

Thanks Brian!

New items from Japan

A couple of new Space Elevator items from Japan are in the news.

First is a pre-announcement of LASER2011, the annual student competition held by the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA).  This is the third (or fourth?) such competition.  No exact date has been set, but JSEA states that it will be at “the end of October”.  Details can be found here (note that this page is in Japanese – you can open the page in Google Chrome and translate it to English).

The second item is a video I found titled “Spinning Carbon Nanotubes for the Space Elevator and Industrial Applications“.  This appears to be narrated by Professor Yoku Inoue – team lead for a competitor in the 2009 Strong Tether Competition (I blogged about his entry here).  Professor Inoue and his team hailed from Shizuoka university in Japan.  Professor Inoue has been invited to compete again this year and I sincerely hope he does.



What’s interesting here (to me anyway) is that the CNT’s are being pulled out/off of the CNT ‘forest’ in a wide array.  It’s nearly transparent as you can see.  When I watched CNT’s being pulled out/off a CNT ‘forest’ at the University of Cincinnati labs, they pulled them off as a very thin thread – traveling from one of the ‘forest’ and back again.  In both cases, it is just the Van der Walls force that is holding the CNTs together…

A couple of more videos…

Two more Space Elevator themed videos I’ve found on YouTube…

The first is an interview with Jason from Team Skyhook.  I think they were going to compete in the initial Power Beaming competition, but as I wasn’t there, I’m not sure.  The video is recent (April of this year) and talks about an Engineering Expo last year and the SPACE ELEVATOR PROGRAM at the University of Idaho.  Really?  A program dedicated to this?  I will be sending him an email, for sure.  The video is basically a promo piece for the University…



And the other video I have for you today is one from (I think) Israel.  I think this is a beam-powered climber, but I’m not sure.  It’s about a year old.



It’s amazing how many videos are on YouTube that are found by using the term Space Elevator but are not really related to what we’re interested in…

A couple of videos…

Some new videos about Space Elevators have shown up on YouTube.

The first appears to be from a German Television show.  As I don’t speak German, I don’t know how accurate the presentation was but their graphic did show a Space Elevator taking off from a land-base, probably something that is not going to happen (the Base station will probably be based at sea).  Most of the video centered around the German team that participated in the Japan Space Elevator Games.

This second video is very interesting (IMHO).  Anyone who was at the Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, Washington last year got to meet Space Elevator inventor Yuri Artsutanov and his interpreter, Eugene Schlusser.  Eugene visited Yuri in Russia and enlisted his help in trying to find his (Eugene’s) Uncle’s grave.  Eugene had this to say about the trip:

We did find my uncle’s grave the next day! He died there in 1943 in the war. This was the first time I had met Yuri, through my cousin Natalie Sherman.

She thought it was not safe for me to travel alone in these remote parts of Russia so Yuri was my well informed chaperon and delightful companion.

It’s interesting to see what the reaction is to Yuri from some of the people they ran into during the search…