Call for Papers

The window is now officially open for articles for the very first ISEC Journal.

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is now accepting articles for inclusion into its first Space Elevator Journal.  Articles submitted must be somehow related to the Space Elevator.  The article could also be about the Space Elevator Games or Carbon Nanotubes or Lasers or it could be a short, fictional story, artwork, poetry, etc – but it MUST be related to a Space Elevator.

Formal submission guidelines and a template to use will be up on the ISEC website shortly.  In the meantime, you can view them here (Guidelines) (Template).


We are targeting December 1st (this year!) as our Journal publication date.  It will be available in paperback and electronic (Kindle) format.  ISEC members who joined in 2009 or 2010 will receive a free copy as will all authors who have an article published in the Journal.  Price for the Hardcover and Electronic editions has not yet been set.

Please pass this request along to anyone else you know who might be interested.

Thank you!


The intrepid team from the University of Saskatchewan was a contestant at the recent Japan Space Elevator Games (JSETEC) – I wrote about the competition previously (here and here).

This is a video of one of their runs – as you see, it does not end well…



These guys needed “TetherMan“!

Dr. Bryan Laubscher to appear on the 9/12/2010 Space Show

Dr. Bryan Laubscher, Physicist, long-time Space Elevator enthusiast and the principle behind Odysseus Technologies, a start-up carbon nanotube spinning company, will appear on Dr. David Livingston’s The Space Show on Sunday, September 12th, from 12:00pm to 1:30pm (US Pacific Daylight time).  From the show intro:

Bryan E. Laubscher received his Ph.D. in physics in 1994 from the University of New Mexico with a concentration in astrophysics. In 2008 Bryan left Los Alamos National Laboratory to pursue new adventures in the Redmond, WA where he and his wife now live. In 2006 Bryan spent a year on Entrepreneurial Leave to Seattle. There he started a company to develop the strongest materials ever created. These materials are based upon carbon nanotubes – the strongest structures known in nature and the first material identified with sufficient strength-to-weight properties to build a space elevator. At LANL he is was a project leader and has worked in various capacities for 17 years. His past projects include LANL’s portion of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey , Magdalena Ridge Observatory and a project developing concepts and technologies for space situational awareness. Over the years Bryan has participated in research in astronomy, lidar, non-linear optics, space mission design, space-borne instrumentation design and construction, spacecraft design, novel electromagnetic detection concepts and technologies, detector/receiver system development, spectrometer development, interferometry and participated in many field experiments. Bryan led space elevator development at LANL until going on entrepreneurial leave in late 2005.

Listeners can talk to Dr. Bryan Laubscher or the host using toll free 1 (866) 687-7223, by sending e-mail during the program using,,, or chatting on AOL/ICQ/CompuServe Chat using the screen name “spaceshowchat.”

Full disclosure – I am investor in Bryan’s start-up, Odysseus Technologies.

ISEC awards its first prize

Gaylen R. Hinton is the winner of the very first prize awarded by the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC).  His paper, ‘Seven Deadly Assumptions about Space Elevators‘ was awarded an ‘Honorable Mention’ in the Artsutanov Prize award category.

Gaylen received a framed Honorable Mention certificate, signed by both Yuri Artsutanov and ISEC Prize Chair Peter Swan.  He also had the tremendous good fortune to be personally handed the award by Yuri Artsutanov, attending the conference due to ISEC’s efforts.

In addition, ISEC is going to pay for Gaylen’s Space Elevator Conference Registration Fee, as a token of our appreciation of his efforts.  Finally, his paper is going to be included in the upcoming ISEC Journal.

So, congratulations to Gaylen Hinton, the first person to receive an award from ISEC.  We hope to see even better papers from Gaylen in the future.

I’ve included two picture thumbnails in this post (and, as always, you can click on them to see a full-size version).  The first is of Gaylen, on the left, receiving his award from Yuri, on the right.  In the middle is ISEC Director, Vice-President and Prize Chair, Peter Swan.  Peter gave the award presentation speech.

The second thumbnail is of, from left to right, Gaylen Hinton, Yuri Artsutanov, John Lee and Peter Swan.  John Lee is the head of the Leeward Space Foundation.  His foundation is a sponsor of the ISEC awards.

Congratulations again to Gaylen Hinton – well done!

The Space Elevator and the Strong Tether Challenge makes the news…

The local (Seattle, Washington) NBC affiliate is KING-TV.  They sent a crew to film Yuri and Jerome’s arrival at Sea-Tac on Thursday and another crew to film events, including the Strong Tether Challenge, at yesterday’s first day of the Space Elevator Conference.

A segment on these topics made both the afternoon and evening news on KING-TV.  This segment has been posted on the web here.  I thought it was a very well done piece; not sensationalistic and with all the facts correct.

We’ve also been mentioned twice on Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log, here and here.

Cosmic Log is one of my very favorite daily reads – I highly recommend that you subscribe to it.

Results from the 2010 Strong Tether Challenge

In a word, disappointing.  No team’s entry seriously challenged for the prize.  No team’s entry performed even to 10% of what was needed to win the prize.  Even with three teams entering carbon-nanotube or carbon-nanotube-reinforced entries, no visible, forward progress was made.

However, in another sense, progress WAS made.  Because of the way that the rules have been modified (i.e, to allow entries much shorter than was previously required), this allowed less-expensive tethers to be built.  And because of this, we had multiple, carbon-nanotube based entries this year, a first.  And there is every reason to believe that these teams will be back next year with a better product and, hopefully, with additional competitors.

One item of note; after the third or fourth tether entry was tested, Yuri Artsutanov (who was there to witness the competition) offered his tie as an entry…

It’s truly amazing how hard this is.  It’s truly amazing how hard it is to find someone who wants to build a carbon nanotube tether (let alone enter it into a competition).  I, personally, had tried to find competitors for this year’s competition and found it to be next to impossible.  There are several companies and universities out there making carbon nanotubes, but they, almost universally, are ‘in it’ for the electrical and other, non-strength related properties of carbon nanotubes.  One would think that the prize money and/or potential market for super-strong materials should be enough to spur development, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.  And the NASA rules precluding non-US-based entries certainly does not help.

But someone, somewhere, someday is going to do this.  All the physics point to this as being possible.  In the meantime, we’re all waiting as fast as we can…

So, until 2011…

23AUG10 Update – Andy Petro from the NASA Centennial Challenges program corrects me by pointing out that the rule precluding any non-US teams competing for prize money is a rule set by Congress, not by NASA. He also points out that non-US teams are welcome to compete, they just won’t be eligible to win any of the Prize Money. My apologies to Andy and NASA and thank you for setting the record straight.

The other two entries

Here are pictures of the other two entries in the Space Elevator – Strong Tether Challenge.

The two loops are from the same competitor.  In one of my earlier posts, I showed a nanotube thread – this is the end result of them (Spaceward as sent multiple threads) being wound into a loop.

The ‘long, shiny thing’ is, I understand it correctly, glass fibers coated with carbon nanotubes – I will find out more later and post it.

As always, please click on the picture thumbnails to see a larger version of the picture.

uStream TV ready to go for Strong Tether Competition

All hail Maurice Franklin from Microsoft for coming in at the last minute and rescuing the uStream TV broadcast of the upcoming Strong Tether Competition – Thanks Maurice!

The URL to follow this is—strong-tether-competition.  The feed is live now, you can see people setting up – it will probably be on and off between now and the competition.

The competition is scheduled to begin at 4:15pm US Pacific time.  I’ll be tweeting the status too.

Tune in – watch the future as it unfolds!

Another Tether entry

Just in the past few minutes, the third tether entry in the Strong Tether competition confirmed that they will compete.  A picture thumbnail of the nanotube loop being entered is included in this post (click on it for a full-size version).

As you can see, this has little in common with the meter-sized loops from previous competitions.  The Spaceward Foundation changed the rules this year to encourage more participation – and with three, confirmed entries, all of the carbon nanotubes, I think I can say it succeeded.

Prize levels are different, depending on the weight of the entry and it’s specific strength.  The different types of entries have been a challenge for Spaceward in adapting their “Tether Torture Rack” to them, but they have adapted as necessary.

And now, full disclosure on my part.  The entry picture in this post is from Odysseus Technologies, a company I have invested in.  So, I will admit to some bias in rooting for this particular entry to win ?.

However, the important thing is that SOMEONE wins, because if they do, this means that the state-if-the-art in this field has been advanced, and, as the lack of strong enough material to build a Space Elevator is the ‘long pole in the tent’, a winner would mean that the day a Space Elevator can actually be built becomes more real.

Still no details on uStream – I’ll post that as soon as I have it, promise…

Carbon nanotubes are HERE

The picture thumbnail is of one of the entries in today’s Space Elevator Games – Strong Tether Challenge.

This thread has now been wound into a loop and will be put on the “Tether Torture Rack” in today’s competition.

I still don’t have the uStream details yet, but hope to have them in the next hour or two and will publish (and Tweet) them as soon as I have them.

Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson are HERE

Today I was very privileged to help welcome Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson to Seattle.  Everybody’s connections were on time so everyone showed up on time.

Peter Swan, ISEC Director and Vice-President arrived first this morning.  Jerome Pearson arrived shortly thereafter and they waited behind Security for Yuri to appear.  He and Eugene Schlusser (Yuri’s translator and traveling companion) were met at their gate by Peter and Jerome and then they all came downstairs to collect their luggage.  Michael Laine (of LiftPort fame), John Lee (of the Leeward Space Foundation) and Belinda Young (our publicist) were also part of the welcoming committee.

ISEC has hired a photographer / filmographer (Owen Kinding) and he was there to record all of the events.  In addition, we had a camera man from the local NBC affiliate (King 5 TV) recording things too.  He interviewed me and I now live in mortal fear of having said something stupid on camera.  If you’re in the Seattle area or if they broadcast on the Internet, you might want to tune in tonight at 10:00PM local (US Pacific) and see if I made a fool of myself.  Hopefully, most of the footage is of Yuri and Jerome.

It really was a thrill to shake both Yuri’s and Jerome’s hand today.  I have been working on making this happen for several months now and to see it all come to fruition was very satisfying.  I think they are going to be huge hit at the conference (which kicks off tonight with a Public presentation).

We’re back at the hotel now, getting ready to go to dinner.  After that, we’re all going to attend the Public presentation (presented by ISEC Board Member Bryan Laubscher).

They’re HERE – it’s really happened!

(A few pictures for you.  The topmost is of Yuri Artsutanov, on the left, and Jerome Pearson.  The middle picture is of our group getting filmed and interviewed by NBC news.  And the bottom picture is a more formal group shot.  In the front, from left to right, are Eugene Schlusser, Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson.  In the back, from left to right, are Peter Swan, Michael Laine, John Lee and yours truly.  As always, clicking on any of the picture thumbnails will display for you a full-size version of the picture.)

Latest updates on the Strong Tether Challenge

Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation, organizers of the Space Elevator Games, arrived in Seattle / Redmond today.  He tells me that there will be at least two contestants, and possibly a third, in this year’s Strong Tether Challenge.  All of the contestants are bringing entries made out of carbon nanotubes.

This is über-mega-cool.  In 2007, there was a single carbon nanotube entry from team DeltaX, a collaboration between MIT and Nanocomp.  In 2009, there was another single carbon nanotube entry from Shizuoka University in Japan.  Neither one performed very well.  The Delta-X entry slipped at the knot tied in the loop (very high tech ) while the Shizuoka entry, a ‘tape’ formed from nanotubes held solely by Van der Walls forces, broke at a very low level.

But that was the past and this is now the future.  With two, maybe three entries, we could see some very good performances.  The lack of a material strong enough is the single biggest obstacle in the way of building a Space Elevator.  Having some sort of breakthrough demonstrated at this year’s Space Elevator Games – Strong Tether Challenge would be nothing short of monumental.

Plus, if there are any winners, there is a cool $2 Million dollar prize purse, courtesy of NASA, to be awarded.

So, stay tuned.  Despite a last-minute glitch, we’re still hopeful of broadcasting the competition live on uStream.  Details will be posted here (and on Twitter) as soon as they are available.

Results from Japan’s 2010 JSETEC Competition

The Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) held its 2nd annual Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition this past weekend.  I received this email from Shuichi Ohno, president of JSEA:

We finished our JSETEC competition 2 days ago.
15 teams bring 16 climbers.
Each team tried 1-3 times.

Champion is Kanagawa University team. (Speed was not high, but safety sureness and functional point was high.)

Top players like Munich team could not complete their climb and (with) decent safety.

All of JSETEC acting team members are too much tired from 3 days competition.

Saskatchewan team’s rope tether climber marks 18.3m/s (=66km/h!) We have not checked, just from their log data, but we watched crazy climb speed before it broke and crashed on the ground.

We are now making English press release. (To be distributed)

Some news:
– We have a plan to hold climb meeting once for 3 – 4 month.(30-300m eight)  to enhance the climber technology. (cost $200 – $300 for each team)
– Andreas of Munich expressed their new SE competition plan in German from 2011.

Some press coverage:

Yahoo News UK


(Source movie of JSETEC was distributed by Reuter. We are now checking why Reuter TV crew didn’t indicate credit on the movie…)

Shuichi Ohno
Chairman JSEA

18.3meters/second! Yes, it’s a battery-powered climb, but still, that is very impressive.  It’s nice to see that the team from USST is keeping their hand in the game (I assume it’s the same group – I’ll have to check).

I also have just received the Press release from Kayoko Oshima which you can find here.  It gives the complete results from the competition.

Finally, Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation, found a video summary of the competition.  You can see it here. Note that this page is an aggregation of news stories.  At the moment, this story is the topmost, leftmost one.  I don’t know how long it will stay up on this site or it’s future location among other stories.  So, the sooner you try and watch it, the better chance you’ll have.

The video summary is very good, and it’s very impressive that they put this together and aired it just a couple of days after the competition.

Congratulations to Shuichi Ohno and the Japan Space Elevator Association for putting on another great competition.  And congratulations to all of the competitors, especially the winners from Kanagawa University, for their fine showing.

Strong Tether challenge just 3 days away…

The Strong Tether challenge, part of the Space Elevator Games, is just three days away!  It will be held at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference, on Friday, August 13th.

This challenge is part of the NASA Centennial Challenge program and is administered by the Spaceward Foundation.  Oh, and by the way, NASA has provided a $2 Million dollar prize purse for this competition, just like they have for the Climber / Power-Beaming competition.

This year it looks like we may may have multiple entries – the first time that’s happened in a few years.  But we’re only going to know for sure at the competition.

For up-to-the-minute information and status, subscribe to our Twitter Feed “SEGames”.  And, if all works according to plan, we’ll be broadcasting the competition live over the Internet via uStream.  Details will be posted here and on Twitter.

I know that the Climber / Power-Beaming Challenge is the ‘sexier’ of the Space Elevator Games, but IMHO, the Strong Tether Challenge is the more important one.  No one in the know seriously doubts the ability to beam power over distance and then do something useful with it (though the devil is always in the details and I’m certainly not saying it is easy – look how long it took a team to actually win some prize money in this challenge), but creating a fundamentally stronger material is more than an exercise in ‘simple’ Engineering – it requires a real scientific breakthrough – and this breakthrough is required if we’re going to build an earth-based Space elevator someday.

If someone can win the challenge this year at the Space Elevator Conference, the year that Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson attend, well then I think it will be safe to say that Gods want a Space Elevator to be built.

Stay tuned!

They’re back – and still horsing around…

Long time readers know of the Elevator2Space guys – 4 funny dudes who have put out a couple of dozen short vignettes of Space Elevator humor…

Their ‘final episode’ (which I blogged about here) appears to have only been a pause in their efforts.  They have two new episodes which I share with you here.





I am very glad they are back and I plan on playing many of their videos during the upcoming Space Elevator Conference.

You can view all of their episodes here.

Looking for a few good teams…

I received this email from Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates.  It’s pretty self-explanatory…

The dust has settled from the failed attempt to schedule the games for this fall. I will give a recap of how we got here.

A few months after the last games USST was informed that they would not be allowed to enter the games this time around. Turns out that the prize monies are reserved for US citizens. This was not a new rule but how would you tell a US team from a non US team? The rules said that the team captain had to be a US citizen. USSTs official captain was just a figurehead to meet that requirement. I will let you decide for yourselves if this is all fair or not. Personally I would rather compete to be the best in the world.

I do however have a bias. The KC Space Pirates were sharing laser expenses with USST. Also the cost of running the competition is divided among the teams. With USST gone our costs jump by $30,000 to $50,000. That was more than I thought we could handle. With only 1 competitor there really is not a competition. So the competition was delayed to give USST time to figure out a way. A wide array of options were explored. In May USST dropped out graciously.

The costs were just too high. I asked Spaceward to work on lowering the costs. A new venue was found up in Washington state that was close to the helicopter. This would lower costs significantly. Spaceward got a preliminary OK from the venue and I set about raising the funds needed. Amazingly I got pledges for the more than $50,000 we needed in just 2 weeks. But the time needed to find the venue and raise the money left little lead time for everything else to come together. We needed official approval from NASA the venue and TRUMPF to proceed.

An unfortunate snag was hit causing another 2+ week delay in the process of getting all the paperwork together and that was enough to push past fall and into winter. It’s not prudent to hold an outdoor event that requires mild weather in the winter in Washington state. So that leaves us with Spring 2011.

But there is still a cloud of doubt over the competition. Most of the pledges I received were conditional on fall 2010. So I still don’t know if we can raise the money and I don’t know if TRUMPF will still be willing to provide a laser. We also don’t know if even LaserMotive will stick around that long.

What we need is a few more teams to enter the competition. That will lower the costs and put the predictability back into the competition.

This has put me in the rather odd position of trying to recruit teams to compete with us. The threat of winning less money is balanced by the high cost of raising the money needed without additional teams.

I am even going so far as to offer help to new teams to help them up the steep learning curve of the competition. This offer is in exchange for a cut of their prize. Remember, we are pirates after all.

The altruistic motivations that provided the resources to run the competition in the past are substantially less this round. Mainly because the success of the competition has shown that power beaming works largely as predicted and is only currently practical for a few applications. The big motivators of cheap Space Access and the Space Elevator are firmly located in the future world of better lasers and bigger budgets. I think that both of those are coming.

But without new teams bringing in new innovation and resources the competition may not happen at all.

So the KC Space Pirates are on a recruiting drive. If you think you have what it takes, want to go where few have gone before, and have at least some kind of budget, contact me.

Brian Turner
KC Space Pirates

So, the gauntlet has been thrown – any takers?

The Mighty Tether – now on YouTube

In May of 2008, I posted about a DVD-story that had been created about Team Astroaraneae – a group of people that had entered into the first two Space Elevator Games – Strong Tether Competition.

This DVD, entitled the “Mighty Tether” is now available in 5 parts on YouTube.

Part 1



Part 2



Part 3



Part 4



Part 5



It’s a shame that they have not competed since the first two competitions…

Remember, the 2010 Strong Tether Competition will be held at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, Washington – it’s still not too late to make your reservation, but time is running out…

Here’s to a successful 2010 Competition!

Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov – part III

This is the third in a three part series of Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov.  Part I can be found here and Part II can be found here

What Yuri Artsutanov told us about himself

Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov by phone, March 2010

Q. When and where were you born?
A.I was born on the 5th of October, 1929 in Leningrad, on the Moika river, in the building which once belonged to the Governor-General of St Petersburg in the XVIIIth century, during the time when either Casanova or Cagliostro visited the city.

Q.Who were your parents?
A. My mother was a teacher of history and worked in both standard and technical schools. My father was also a teacher of history but taught in special schools for workers which were organized after the revolution to educate the working classes. They met at the “A. Herzen Education Institute” where they studied together.

My maternal great-grandfather, my mother’s grandfather, was Ivan Vassil’evich  Vassil’ev (after whom a street in old St Petersburg was named, now called Degtyaryov’s street). He was the son of a serf  who came to St Petersburg from  Tver province to sell canvases. Artists recognized his talent and began to teach him their trade. He became an artist and produced many paintings. Later he even  became an Honorary Citizen, the title passed on to the next generations as Hereditary Honorary Citizen and my mother had this title as well. He opened a lane on the Okhta (a district in St Petersburg on the other side of the Big Neva River) near the Okhta cemetery. This lane grew and was renamed Vassil’ev street as I mentioned before.

In 1935, when I was 5 years old my father was arrested in connection with Trotsky’s trial and he was exiled to Kazakhstan. During the first couple of summers he came illegally from there to the dacha we rented near Leningrad. In 1937 he was finally sentenced to  five years as ‘an enemy of the people’, and taken to a concentration camp in Magadan, on the Kolyma.

After that  he was stripped of his civic rights for a further15 years, exactly like Ivan Denisovich, the hero in Solzhenitsyn famous novel. After five years, in 1942 he was released but denied  the right to live in a big city. He lived in a village called Nexican, in Magadan district until 1957.  After Stalin’s death and with Khrushchev in power he was rehabilitated. Then he moved to Krasnoyarsk where he lived until his death in 1973. I have a document confirming that I’m the son of the victim of unlawful repression and as such I receive an additional pension – 300 roubles (about $10!) a  month.

My mother died in 1998. I had a brother who died 5 years ago. He was a graduate of the Air Force Academy as a meteorologist. After his death his wife appropriated  my flat by deceit and left me to live in a tiny flat where I can’t order all my belongings properly. I think my original flat should become a museum just like the Tsiolkovsky museum.

Q. Where were you educated? What do you remember about your school?
A. I was educated  in school No.14 (which later became No.78) on the Petrogradskaya Side. That was before the war and it was a standard school and my class was a standard one as well. There were some boys who were friends interested in science and we discussed all sorts of  unusual scientific problems. I finished year 7 only.

Q. What you remember about the war?
A. The war started in June 1941 but only in March of 1942 were my mother, brother and I able to escape the blockaded city across the frozen Lake Ladoga along the so called “Road of Life”. We were lucky to survive as the truck in front of us sank under the ice. We spent the rest of the war in the Urals – in the village of Beloyarka in what was  Chelyabinsk province at that time but later became Kurgan province. There was a very nice river in Beloyarka and the village itself has some connection to  Tsar Boris Godunov.

Q. Where did you study and work after the war?
A. We returned to Leningrad in July 1945. After  7th grade at the standard school I began studies  at the technical school from 1945 to 1949 and in that year I entered the “Lensoviet Leningrad Institute of  Chemical Technology”. After graduation in 1954 I  was sent to The Research Institute for the Chemistry of Mineral Oil (I stayed there for 3 years) and worked on polymers. In 1957 I entered the special course at the same Chemical Institute. I studied to do my PhD in the faculty of colloid chemistry.

Unfortunately I didn’t complete my PhD. I wrote my thesis but didn’t submit it because I became very sceptical of the details of “ Kremnyov’s Method ” ( he was the  head of the Faculty) when I  found them to be incorrect – this way of doing things made it possibile of achieve any results you wished.Q. Was it at that time that the idea of a lift into space came to you? How?
A. Yes, my idea for  a lift into space took shape at that time. I was always interested in space and my friend Alik Yezrielev’s father, as a Stalin Prize winner had access to  foreign scientific and technical journals (that was in 1957, four years after Stalin’s death) and we could also read them. On one occasion we read about a newly developed extremely strong polymer, so strong that if you used it to make a rope 400km in length it would not break under its own weight. At an altitude of 400km the force of gravity is already less than on earth so the rope could be lengthened up to 1km ( according to  my calculations) without it  breaking. The question arose what thickness would a rope of infinite length require. It turned out to be impossible if it was of a constant diameter. However, such a rope could be possible if it had a variable cross section, that is, was spindle shaped and if it was possible to use centrifugal force  to counter the force of gravity. Step by step the idea of a lift into space was born. I kept talking to people about the idea but didn’t submit my article to the Soviet newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” until 1960 and a week later they published it.
Q. Where does your ability to have ideas on so many different areas come from? Is it innate or did you develop the skills yourself or were they the result of your studies and work?
A. It is difficult for me to answer that question. As a child I read popular science books in the series “ Entertaining Physics”,”Chemistry”,”Mathematics”, “Astronomy”,”Mechanics” and so on, all by the same author Perlman. Perhaps both my interest and my ability came from there.
Q. If you were interested in such books and you read them it suggests you already had an interest in these things. The ability to think, to analyse, to develop new ideas could develop from your reading because all those books were about ideas and how to put them into practice.
A. I was always solving difficult problems. For example in  4th Grade I solved all  the problems in our Arithmetic text book.

Q. Was your Arithmetic teacher special?
A. No, he was an average teacher.

Q. Do you recall any outstanding teacher at your school?
A. Yes. In Grade 7 there was a teacher of Physics – Guchkov who made a big impression on me. He gave me a physics textbook to read which he had used at University.

Q. Did you understand it all?
A. Of course! (he laughs)

Q. What are your own best qualities?
A. Love for knowledge otherwise known as ‘inquisitiveness’. I love to solve difficult problems. Yes, I’ve always tried to solve difficult problems wherever I’ve been.

Q. Did you join the Komsomol (Young communists) organization?
A. Of course I did. It was compulsory! As soon as I was 14 years old  I became a member at once.

Q. What happened when you graduated from the Technological Institute? Did you let your membership lapse?
A. When I started my studies at the technical school I was asked whether I was a member of Komsomol and I said “yes”. When I started to work in the Research Institute for the Chemistry of  Mineral Oil I was asked if I was a member of the Communist Party. I said ”no”. Of  Komsomol? I said “yes”. When I completed the course work for my PhD in 1960 I left Komsomol because of my age. They kept asking me to become a member of the Communist Party but I avoided it at all costs. I was afraid to tell them that I didn’t want to! (Laughs).

From 1960 to 1964 I remained in the faculty of Colloid chemistry and worked in the laboratory. for four years.

In 1965 my friend Alik Yezrielev persuaded me to join the Institute of  Synthetic Rubber (VNIISC) because at the Chemistry for  Mineral Oil Institute I had been working with latexes. It was here I first met some young dissidents.

Q. Did the fact your father was arrested affect your career, if so how?
A. Yes, it affected me before his rehabilitation in 1956. Before then I was expelled from the special faculty of Atomic Energy in the Technological Institute where I studied. It was actually contrary to their own popular slogan “Children are not responsible for the deeds of their fathers”! (laughs). I always had the best marks in all subjects. I was awarded a special allowance as part of my scholarship (but they didn’t give me a Stalin scholarship!) Everyone  around me kept telling me I was the best student in the Institute etc. Despite this I was expelled form the Atomic Energy faculty.

Q. How did you get into the Faculty of  Atomic Energy in the first place?
A. I had a “red”diploma (an outstanding diploma with Honors) from the technical school where I had studied  so they enrolled me there but by doing so they kept me from any of the other, better faculties. (The faculty of Atomic Energy was “closed” with increased security and secrecy so you needed to have an absolutely (politically)clean biography. From that point of view I was not  “trustworthy” because my father was a political prisoner. Political considerations were more important than my qualifications in 1949. My father wasn’t rehabilitated until 1956.

Q. Were you interested in atomic energy?
A. No, but they offered other subjects in the faculty: all the nuclear processes, all the chemical processes connected with nuclear technology etc. i.e. it gave a very broad knowledge around the behaviour of atoms.

Q. How did you become an “Enemy of People”?
A. It was much later, in 1965 and I didn’t become one directly as such. There was a group of nine students who decided to organize a communist revolution. They were all arrested and imprisoned. Those who read their pamphlets and the book called “From Bureaucracy to Dictatorship of the Proletariat” and who hadn’t informed the “organs” (of the KGB) about such anti-Soviet activities were expelled. ‘Why didn’t you denounce them?’ ‘Why didn’t you  come to tell us?’ ‘If you hadn’t forgotten our special department (Department No.1)  at your place of work or study and if you had have come to us more often everything could be different’. So, I was dismissed from the Institute of Synthetic Rubber. I had worked there for only a year and a half.

Q. How did that affect your life?
A. It continued to affect me in one way or another. Wherever I worked I was either paid less than before or didn’t receive any wages for some months. And if they wanted to dismiss me I was told to write an application that I wanted to terminate my work “of my own free will”. Or else I was told, “Yes, we’ll appoint you” but three days later I was rejected.

That was the case in five or six work places. Finally I found a position at the VNIIASH (Institute for  Abrasives and Grinding Materials) where people from the 1st Department of my previous place of employment had called asking them to take me (the Institute had a low security profile). That was in 1966. Actually it only happened after I had gone to the headquarters of the KGB in Leningrad (the so called “Big House” on the Liteinyi Prospect) and told them that  I hadn’t known that I had to inform them about the dissidents. I hadn’t known I had to denounce them! I worked from 1966 to 1992 at VNIIASH.  In between I worked for four years at the “Ilych” in an experimental research plant.

Q. Your future wife worked at VNIIASH?
A. Yes, she had graduated from the Electrotechnical Institute in Leningrad.

Q. How did you survive financially before you started to work at VNIIASH?
A. My mother and my aunt helped me with money but personally I wasn’t stressed because I felt it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t  have a job.

Q. Why didn’t you emigrate when it became possible?  You told me in 1979 when I emigrated that you couldn’t bear leaving the Russian landscape.

A. No, I was joking! I never considered emigrating seriously because I couldn’t bear to cut  my connections with hundreds of my friends and acquaintances.

Q. Are you a member of some scientific organization, club, or association?
A. I was a member of a society where people delivered scientific lectures and I did the same: the  Society for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge Unfortunately I haven’t  heard about the society for a long time. I also gave lectures at the Historical Museum of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Q. When did you retire from VNIIASH?
A. In 1992. I didn’t retire, they made me go on the pension. The Deputy Director of Science, M. Efros, told me  I was too individualistic. If I had have  included all the “essential people” (i.e. himself) as co-authors on the  applications of my inventions I could have worked much longer!

Copyright 2010.:Yuri Artsutanov, Natalie Sherman, Eugene Schlusser

This conversation, as the previous two, are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any form without the express, written consent of Eugene Schlusser (eugenesc [at]

I find the whole interaction with the KGB and the Russian state beaurocracy to be fascinating.  To not be allowed to do the work of your choice because they had a political problem with your father is just so bizarre…

Yuri Arsutanov and Jerome Pearson will both be at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference and it’s still not too late to sign up!  Come out, learn more about this magnificent idea, and meet the two people largely responsible for the modern day concept of the Space Elevator!

The Space Elevator Blog wishes to thank Mr.’s Schlusser and Artsutanov for their permission to publish these conversations.  It’s truly been an honor.

Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov – part II

This is the second part of a three part series; “Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov”.  Part I can be found here.

Dyson Sphere

(Conversation with Yura Artsutanov by phone – Melbourne – St Petersburg), March 2010

Q. What is Dyson’s sphere?
A. Dyson is an American scientist-physicist. He proposed that if we want to survive in the Universe we need to search for much bigger sources of energy than the sun, the sizes of the entire solar system and the absolute temperature of  radiation up to 300 F,  the temperature needed to support life. He said that life of any civilization develops and expands requiring more and more space. In the end, the entire terrestrial civilization will occupy a “cocoon” – so called “Dyson’s cocoon ” which will include some of the planets of our solar system, satellites, any artificial bodies (Sputniks) etc. All  this matter will form a  sphere around the sun capturing its entire energy for use by  humankind. At present only a millionth part reaches our planet. So the sphere has to be of an enormous size but its temperature has to be equal to that of the human body.

Nobody knows how to construct such a cocoon.  The (Polish) writer and philosopher Stanislav Lem wrote that it was impossible. Mathematics and mechanics also indicate such a sphere is impossible to create, that it is fundamentally unstable, that it will be crushed by the forces of gravity.

So this is my proposal: to make a belt in the shape of a beautiful shell revolving around the sun like a stretched satellite. If such a belt were constructed we could get not just a millionth part of the sun’s energy but as much as one hundredth of it. However, the radiation will be immense so a second belt has to be constructed at an angel to the first, and a third belt – at the same angle as the second one. The second belt must have a lesser diameter than the first one and the third belt a lesser diameter than the second  to prevent them from crashing into each other. Such a shell will be impossible to crush. It will be stable because in each section  the centrifugal force will be balanced by the force of gravity. The sphere will rotate around the sun and in addition it might even be possible to move closer to the sun. However that is a very complicated option.

So in principle it is possible to devise a mechanical  structure which will not be crushed under its own weight and I’m the first one to propose this. My article “Threefold Matryoshka” was published in the Russian magazine “Energy”. 1986, No.12. There is even a drawing of how it will look. I sent the article to Freeman Dyson, but unfortunately I couldn’t meet him when I was in the USA  about 10 years ago.

Copyright 2010 Yuri Artsutanov, Natalie Sherman, Eugene Schlusser

Again, these conversations are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any form without the express, written consent of Eugene Schlusser (eugenesc [at]

The ‘belt’ idea seems to mimic Larry Niven’s Ringworld (one of the all-time great SciFi stories) – I wonder if Yuri is familiar with this novel?  I’ll have to ask him at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference.

As I mentioned in Part I of this series, Yuri will be attending the upcoming Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, Washington.  If you want the chance to be able to meet both Yuri and Jerome Pearson, two of the true pioneers of the space age, come out to the Conference – it’s going to be the best one yet!

Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov – part I

For those of you who don’t know who Yuri Artsutanov is, he is a Russian engineer and the original co-inventor of the modern idea of a Space Elevator.  It was Yuri who first postulated the Space Elevator being a tensile structure rather than a compressive one (like a conventional building or tower).

Yuri will be appearing at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (August 12-15) in Redmond, Washington – traveling all the way from his home in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Yuri is 81 years young and is, by all accounts, in excellent health.

The Space Elevator Blog is very privileged to be able to present the first in a three-part series; “Conversations with Yuri Artsutanov”.  Parts II and III will be posted over the next several days.

Yuri Artsutanov in a phone conversation with Natalie Sherman and Eugene Schlusser – part I        
(Melbourne –St Petersburg), March 2010

Q. Yura, please tell us how the idea of “A lift into Space” came to you initially?
A. It was in 1957; I had a friend, Alik (Albert) Yezrielev; his father was a Stalin Prize winner and as such had access to foreign scientific and technical journals so Alik read them as well. One day he told me the Americans had invented a very strong material so that a cable made of this material could be as long as 400kms and would not break under its own weight. I commented that if the cable were placed vertically at an altitude of 400kms where the force of gravity is less than on earth the cable could be made even longer (for ~ 200m) without collapsing into itself. There followed this hypothetical question: what strength would a cable of infinite length have to have? And what if such a cable where erected on the equator where its centrifugal force would keep it at the higher altitude and therefore it would not fall down? That might make it possible to travel into space along such a cable instead of using rockets!

Q. What aroused your interest in the material and the thickness of the cable in first place?
A. I was interested in travelling into space from my early childhood. When I read that a new super strong material had been invented I immediately realised  it could be used for building super long cables to lift us to cosmic altitudes, i.e. for traveling into space.

Q. So the very idea of “a lift into Space” came to you when you thought about the cable, its strength etc.?
A. Yes and it was in 1957, two months before the first Sputnik was launched.

Q. Why is it so important to travel into Space?
A. To find fossils and water on other planets and to use them.

Q. What about “saving humankind”?
A. Plenty of writers and philosophers from Aristotle to the present have thought and written about this. K.E.Tsiolkovsky said that “The Earth is the cradle of humanity but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever”.  The idea of Arthur C. Clarke was “to resettle humankind around the sun to increase its possibilities of survival”. Besides, sooner or later the sun and our planet will perhaps explode and people will need transport to escape and to disperse into space. So “salvaging humankind” has two meanings:  the salvation of humankind in the event of a catastrophe, and making way for humankind in its natural aspiration to expand. Now it is closer to being realized thanks to the invention of the new super strong material – fullerene. The Americans could be using “A lift into Space” by 2040.

Q. Tell us how your idea came to be connected with Tsiolkovsky?
A. Five years after my article “A Lift into Space” was published in the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” a short article mentioning it appeared in the newspaper “Leningradskaya Pravda”. A year later the Americans invented the same “lift” (they called it a “space elevator”) and published an article in the American magazine “Science”. A correspondent of the “Novosti Press Agency” V. Lvov had special access to the foreign press and brought the article to “Leningradskay Pravda” where he was told that the idea was not a new one. A Russian article on the same idea had already been published in their paper one year prior. They searched their archives and found the article. Lvov then came to me convinced that the Americans had stolen my idea and he even published an article accusing the Americans. That was in 1966 when “the cold war” was coming to an end. When the Americans found out about Lvov’s article they asked him to stop alleging plagiarism because he was wrong. Their invention had been made quite independently. Lvov agreed and in an article for the American journal “Science” wrote:the space elevator had been “invented for the second time”.

Then the KGB came into the picture asserting that Artsutanov was not worthy of the status of ‘ a hero’. His father had been arrested as “an enemy of the people” and he himself hadn’t informed them about a group of young dissidents (i.e.“enemies of the Soviet State”) at the Leningrad Technological Institute where he had studied. He had known them and was even connected with them. Lvov was ordered as follows: “You need to reduce the role of Artsutanov in this invention; write that the idea originated with Tsiolkovsky and Zander, and Artsutanov had copied their idea; that is, he wasn’t the originator of the idea”.

In fact what Tsiolkovsky had written was: ”if it were possible to build a tower to a height of 36, 000 kms it might be possible to launch satellites  from the top. However, everybody understands that to build such a tower is impossible”. He didn’t even offer a solution on how to build such a tower. It was a purely mental speculation on his part, “a mental experiment” as Arthur C. Clarke put it later.

Among the rough notes belonging to F. Zander they found his calculations for the strength of a tube which could be used by people to get to the moon.  He concluded that the entire supply of  cast iron on the planet would not be enough to build such a tube. He also wrote that while it might be conceivable “everyone understands that it would be impossible”, and thereafter he never mentioned it again.

Despite all these obvious facts V. Lvov still claimed that both scientists had been thinking of “a lift into Space” long before Artsutanov.

It must be said that Tsiolkovsky’s idea for a tower was not original.  It goes back to the Biblical Tower of Babel. People wanted to build a tower to reach the sky but God punished them and destroyed the tower.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote to V. Lvov pointing out that there are no references to a lift in the works of Tsiolkovsky. The idea of a tower remained merely a speculative matter.

Q. What did Arthur C. Clarke think about it all when he found out you were the real father of the idea?
A. In his novel “The Fountains of Paradise” he clearly wrote that the lift into space was invented in the 20th century by Yuri Artsutanov and Tsiolkovsky didn’t invent any of it. Tsiolkovsky’s writings about the tower are no more than a mere “mental experiment”.

Q. How did you meet Arthur C. Clarke?
A. He came to the USSR with several purposes in mind; one  was to meet me. His main goal was to see the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the location in Siberia where the Tunguz meteor fell in 1908 (he wasn’t able to fulfil this aim). His trip was organized by the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” who gave him an interpreter as well. Yes, he came to my apartment, looked out from my window, we spoke sitting around the table …

Q. What do you think about Jerome Pearson and his work?
A. His is engineering work of a very high quality but the idea itself is exactly the same as mine. He had the opportunity to try to build a lift – the company, the equipment etc. which I, of course, didn’t have. The idea itself came to him through his work as an ichthyologist. In their research into the oceans it was very important to have very strong cables which wouldn’t break even at a depth of 30km. Then he realized it would be possible to pull the cable not only down underwater but up as well.

Q. Do you have other inventions on which you have written and published?
A. Dyson’s Sphere. In our search for other civilizations we need to locate and study huge objects of a length of up to one billion km. Their temperature has to be less than 50C for life to exist. In the future the increasing population on earth will need all the energy of the sun, not just that fraction which at present reaches our planet. So we need to create a sphere, where intelligent creatures can live on its inner surface and  capture all of their energy’s source – the sun’s or other sources. That’s Dyson’s idea.

Q. What is your part in the idea?
A. Nobody knows how to construct a sphere so that it isn’t destroyed by the sun’s gravitation. My article on the subject was published in the Russian magazine  “Knowledge is Power”, 1969, No.9.

© Copyright 2010 Yuri Artsutanov, Natalie Sherman, Eugene Schlusser

Note that these conversations are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any form without the express, written consent of either Natalie Sherman or Eugene Schlusser (you can email Eugene at eugenesc [at]

I found Yuri’s remarks, especially about the role of the KGB, absolutely fascinating.

It’s not too late to sign up to attend the Space Elevator Conference.  Yuri will be appearing with another co-inventor of the modern idea of the Space Elevator, American Engineer Jerome Pearson.  They will be hosting a Q&A session, currently scheduled for the morning of Saturday, August 14th.

Come on out and meet some true pioneers of the Space Age!

LiftPort and the Lunar Space Elevator

With all of the work I’ve been doing as President of ISEC, I’ve neglected my Space Elevator Blog a bit – I’m now making a concerted effort to catch up…

Michael Laine of LiftPort fame has a new project; trying to convince people that building a Lunar Space Elevator is a good idea and doable with today’s technology and materials.

He’s hosting a four day event/workshop in downtown Seattle, Washington, starting on Thursday, July 29th.  Details can be found here.

There is also an article about this effort in Universe Today which you can find here.  As you read the article, you find that this seems to be more of a thought-experiment than a serious proposal.  But he would like to make this work, no doubt about it…  Money quote from the article:

Laine started a space elevator company in 2003, LiftPort, which fell to financial problems in 2007. He sees the lunar elevator as a possible rebirth for the company, which once had 14 full-time employees. “This is a renaissance project, a rising again,” he said. “I’m applying a lot of what I learned on the Earth elevator to this new vision. While tackling the Earth elevator, all my money came from real estate, and I had plenty of money for my needs. But this time is different. For us to build this thing we are going to have to earn our way.”

“But I think it could be phenomenally lucrative, too,” Laine continued. “We are going to make discoveries along the way that will lead to products and services that are not related to going to the Moon. We think there is a solid value proposition as part of this.”

We’ve reached CNET…

The news that both Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson will be attending the upcoming Space Elevator Conference has reached the lofty realm of CNET.

From Chris Matyszczyk’s CNET Technically Incorrect blog:

“Artsutanov was apparently the first, in the early 1960s, to posit the idea of attaching cables to a satellite and creating a two-way elevator between us and the great beyond.

Pearson, in 1975, did his own thinking on the subject while at NASA and published “The Orbital Tower: A Spacecraft Launcher Using The Earth’s Rotational Energy.”

Since then, the thinking appears to have solidified. As the conference’s Web site puts it: “The Space Elevator uses a carbon nanotube ribbon that stretches from the surface of the earth to a counterweight in space. Climbers ascend the ribbon lifting cargo and passengers to earth orbits and launching spacecraft to distant planets.”

I am not sure whether this includes Pluto, but I am very sure that, if it does not, this should be a serious offense.”

Yes Chris, we consider Pluto a very worthy destination, regardless of whether or not it’s considered a planet…

Read the entire blog posting here

Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson to appear at the 2010 Space Elevator Conference

I am very excited to announce that both Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson will appear at this year’s Space Elevator Conference, to be held in Redmond, Washington (August 12-15).

As many of you know, Yuri and Jerome are co-inventors of the modern-day concept of the Space Elevator and they did the groundwork for all of the developments in this field. Without their insights and expertise, all the advancements in this field since Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s original idea may not have happened.  These are the guys that postulated the Space Elevator as a tensile structure (as opposed to Tsiolkovsky’s ‘tower’) – something that, with the discovery of carbon nanotubes, might actually be possible to build.

Yuri is traveling all the way from St. Petersburg, Russia, to attend the conference – I truly cannot wait to meet this man and shake his hand.

They will be attending all three days of the conference working sessions (August 13/14/15) and will be hosting a Q&A session on the morning of the 14th.

If you would like to meet these pioneers, it is still not too late to sign-up for the conference.  Visit the conference website to register and be able to meet two of the true pioneers of the space age.

You can view the official press release announcing their visit here.

Call for Comments – Official ISEC Paper on Space Elevator Survivability – Space Debris Mitigation

One of the many ISEC projects we’ve been working on this year is coming up with an “official position paper” on the subject of this year’s theme; Space Elevator Survivability – Space Debris Mitigation.

A team headed up by Dr. Peter Swan has been working on this document and it is now ready for review – I’ve linked to it here (Word / PDF).

Comments are ENCOURAGED – this is a draft document and is subject to change, pending comments from reviewers.  This paper will be the subject of the Space Elevator Conference Technical Pillar workshop scheduled for Sunday, August 15th.  Once the comments have been incorporated, this document will be officially released as an ISEC Position paper.

Please send all comments to

Power-Beaming competition postponed…

I received word yesterday from Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation (the group that organizers the Space Elevator Games) that this year’s Power-Beaming competition has been postponed until March/April of next year.

The Strong-Tether portion of the Space Elevator Games is still scheduled to be held at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference.

As more news becomes available, it will be posted here and at the official site of the Space Elevator Games.

New LaserMotive video…

A new video about Team (Corporation) LaserMotive has recently been created and posted on the LaserMotive website and YouTube.

Though it’s not directly relevant to a Space Elevator, they do talk about power-beaming – a technology that an SE will certainly need.  Plus, these guys are the Space Elevator Games champs (for now!) and it’s good to see what they’re doing…


June is Space Elevator month

I’ve written about the NASA MICI (NASA Minority Innovation Challenges Institute) before (here), telling you all about a video which had been posted on this website.  This video showed portions of the competition in several of the recent NASA Centennial Challenges.

That’s all well and cool, but Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation (organizers of the Space Elevator Games) has just let me know that, at the NASA MICI channel, “June is Space Elevator Month“.  Two presentations relating to the Space Elevator Games have already been posted and two more are on the way.  And, if you login to the site while a presentation is underway, you’ll be able to interact (via Chat) with the presenter, asking questions in real-time.

The presentations that have already been posted are:

  • The Space Elevator (Ben Shelef)
  • Robotics and the Space Elevator (Dr. Antonio J Soares)

Upcoming presentations are:

  • Photovoltaic cells and the Space Elevator (Dr. Antonio J Soares) – June 21st, 3:00pm US Eastern time
  • Lasers and the Space Elevator (Dr. Antonio J Soares) – June 28th, 3:00pm US Eastern time

The ‘catch’ to all this is that to register to view these presentations, you must be a professor that is “…currently employed at a university or college located in the United States” or a student that is “…(a) a US Citizen currently enrolled at a university or college or (b) a non-US Citizen who is currently enrolled at a university or college located in the United States. ”  If you don’t fall into either of these categories, you can apply for login permission (you’ll see how to do this on their website).

This site and it’s videos are there to encourage participation by US students and faculties in the NASA Centennial Challenges program.   If you qualify (i.e. are a faculty member of student meeting the MICI requirements), then I would highly encourage you to sign up for this.  We are always looking for more competitors in the Space Elevator Games and the majority of teams that have registered have been university-based.  The more the merrier!

LaserMotive gets some new sponsors…

Just a case of the rich getting richer…  Team LaserMotive, winners of a cool $900K in last year’s Climber / Power-Beaming portion of the Space Elevator Games, has acquired some new sponsors in its attempts to collect the remaining $1.1M in the NASA-provided prize pool.

This is detailed on their latest blog posting on their website.  Money quote:

“We’re pleased to announce these industry partners as sponsors of Team LaserMotive as we prepare to enter the next round of the Power Beaming Competition in 2010,” said Tom Nugent, president and co-founder of LaserMotive. “Laser power beaming — the wireless transfer of energy from one location to another using laser light — offers tremendous potential to businesses in a wide variety of industries, ranging from alternative energy to unmanned aerial vehicles. Not only do we believe that the sponsorships will enhance the development of our entry for this year’s Competition, but the technology developed can be used to further practical applications for laser power beaming, both near and long term.”

This is just going to make them an even more fearsome competitor in the upcoming competition.  Congratulations again to LaserMotive!

An (old) interview with Clayton Ruszkowski

Anyone who is familiar with the Climber / Power-Beaming team from the University of Saskatchewan, the USST team, knows or knows about Clayton Ruszkowski.  Clayton was the team captain for the first several years of their competing and, in the latest competition held in 2009, Clayton was there as an elder statesman…

Many moons ago (Dec 28, 2007), Stan Taylor of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario did an interview with Clayton and recently, he kindly emailed it to me.  You can read the interview here (it’s in pdf format).  It’s very interesting and we learn all sorts of interesting facts about Clayton.  For instance, he is a Canadian and, when he was younger, he played hockey – what are the odds?

He gives his future plans as ‘joining the Canadian Air Force’.  I wonder if it’s this Canadian Air Force he’s thinking of:

STAN FREBERG: …ahem, okay people, now when I give you the cue, I want the 700 foot mountain of whipped cream to roll into Lake Michigan, which has been drained and filled with hot chocolate. Then the Royal Canadian Air Force will fly overhead towing a 10-ton maraschino cherry, which will be dropped into the whipped cream to the cheering of 25,000 extras. All right – cut to the mountain!
(Appropriate SFX)
Cue the Air Force!
(Appropriate SFX)
Cue the maraschino cherry!
(Appropriate SFX)
Okay, 25,000 Cheering Extras!(Appropriate SFX, which end abruptly)
Now, you want to try that on television?

Of course, if you weren’t a fan of Stan Freberg, that probably didn’t mean anything to you…

Anyway, it’s a cool interview – check it out.  And hey, Clayton – you still owe me a USST mug…

2nd Annual JSETEC Competition announced

From August 6th-8th, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) will host it’s second annual JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition) event.  I blogged about the inaugural event, held in 2009, here and here.  It was a great success and I’m sure this year’s event will be to.

This year’s event will be held at the same place the 2009 event was held at; Japan University’s Futuwa Field.  Last year, the tether was 150 meters long and this year they’ve doubled it to 300 meters.

The goals of the competition are as follows:

  • To support technical experimentation and activities geared toward building a Space Elevator Climber model for a vertical belt tether based on the Edwards’ Space elevator plan.
  • To support technical experimentation and activities geared toward developing a vertical rope tether climber which could be used for a stratospheric platform which is considered a milestone in the path toward realization of the Space Elevator.
  • Provide accurate factual information about potential plans for aSpace Elevator to the any interested parties.

There is still time (though not much) to sign up for this competition – entrance is closed on June 25th.  I’d love to go to this, but will be unable to this year – maybe next year…

Mr. Devin Jacobson of the JSEA sent me a 26 page pdf file containing information about the Japan Space Elevator Association, the 2009 competition (including details of the various climbers that were entered) and the 2010 competition.  It is a very interesting, very informative document and I highly recommend you read it.

Some of the highlights:

  • As of March 31st of this year, JSEA had 470 members.  That’s very impressive…
  • If you look at the diagram and explanation of the Tether ‘racecourse’, you’ll see similarities and differences to the ‘racecourse’ that the Spaceward Foundation has set up for it’s own Space Elevator Games.
  • The 2009 competition was held on a 150 meter tether.  This year’s competition will be held on a 300 meter tether.  Next year, they plan on using a 600 meter tether.  But, unlike the Space Elevator Games, they plan on holding the tether aloft with balloons, not a helicopter.  It will be very interesting to see how successful they are.  I know that Ben Shelef (from the Spaceward Foundation) looked at using balloons and decided that they were not practical for the kilometer long racecourse he had setup.  He also moved from the ‘seatbelt tether’ (as he had used in previous year’s competitions) to a steel cable.

It is really interesting to see the various approaches here, both in the climbers and the setup of the racecourse itself.

Please take a look at the pdf describing JSEA, and the 2009 and 2010 competitions – you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll be posting the results of the competition once it is completed.

Good luck and congratulations to JSEA!

And many thanks to Devin Jacobson for sending me this information so I could post it on the blog…

Translating to Belorussian…

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Patricia C., asking me if she could translate my post Hey Lasers – Happy 50th Birthday! into Belorussian (her mother tongue).  Of course I was happy to agree, asking as my only ‘payment’ if she would send me the Belorussian translation of “Space Elevator”.

A few days ago, she sent me another email saying that this was complete.  You can find her translation of my blog post here.

And, the Belorussian equivalent of Space Elevator is “???????? ????”.

Thanks Patricia!

The ISEC 2009 Space Elevator Poster

No, that’s not a typo – this post is about the ISEC 2009 Space Elevator Poster.  One of our goals at ISEC is for us to issue a commemorative poster each year.  For various and sundry reasons, the poster for 2009 never got created, until now.  The fact that we now have one is almost solely due to our new Artist-In-Residence, Frank Chase.

I’ve posted about Frank before (here and here) and carried through on my threat promise to see if he would be ‘interested in designing a poster’ for ISEC.  Frank has done more than that, agreeing to become ISEC’s Artist-In-Residence.  This poster is his first completed project and he is now throwing ideas at us for the 2010 poster (which will have as its subject the 2010 ISEC Theme – Space Debris Mitigation).  We’re actually to going to have that poster created THIS YEAR.  Frank will also be designing the cover for our new ISEC Journal as well as doing some other projects we have lined up.

Visuals convey so much more than what mere words do and I think that Frank’s efforts will be a potent weapon in ISEC’s arsenal.

Frank does truly fine work (as you can see from this poster and from his websites I linked to in my earlier posts) and we are absolutely thrilled that he has agreed to become part of the ISEC team.  Welcome Frank!

You can learn more about Frank by visiting the Team page on the ISEC Website.

Oh, and how do you get one of these posters (which is 11 x 17 inches and is offset print on high-quality, glossy stock)?  Well, if you became a member in 2009, you are going to have one shipped to you, free, as part of your membership benefits (along with my personal apologies for being so tardy with this).  Current members of ISEC can also purchase previous year’s posters (while supplies last) for a discounted price of $15.00 (plus shipping) or, if you’re not a member of ISEC, you can purchase one for $25.00 (plus shipping).

Those of you who have already joined or renewed in 2010 will get the 2010 poster for free.

(You can click on the Poster thumbnail to see a slightly larger version)

Future Space Elevator Architect

Several months ago, I put up a post about my first grandchild being born.  Karl is nearly 7 months old now and his mother just emailed me a picture of him dressed up in the NASA outfit I purchased for him from the NASA gift shop at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Future space elevator architect, no doubt about it.

Click on the picture thumbnail to see a full-size version…

Hey Lasers – Happy 50th birthday!

According to the LaserFest website, today, May 16, 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the laser.  First demonstrated by a team lead by American physicist Ted Maiman.

From Wikipedia:

In 1917, Albert Einstein established the theoretic foundations for the LASER and the MASER in the paper Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung (On the Quantum Theory of Radiation); via a re-derivation of Max Planck’s law of radiation, conceptually based upon probability coefficients (Einstein coefficients) for the absorption, spontaneous emission, and stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation; in 1928, Rudolf W. Ladenburg confirmed the existences of the phenomena of stimulated emission and negative absorption;  in 1939, Valentin A. Fabrikant predicted the use of stimulated emission to amplify “short” waves;  in 1947, Willis E. Lamb and R. C. Retherford found apparent stimulated emission in hydrogen spectra and effected the first demonstration of stimulated emission;  in 1950, Alfred Kastler (Nobel Prize for Physics 1966) proposed the method of optical pumping, experimentally confirmed, two years later, by Brossel, Kastler, and Winter.  On 16 May 1960, Theodore Maiman demonstrated the first functional laser at the Hughes Research Laboratories,  capable of producing short pulses.

Of course lasers are what power the Climbers in the Power-Beaming Competition at the Space Elevator Games and lasers are, in all probability, going to be at least part of the power equation of a real Space Elevator.

The LaserFest website is very cool – lots of interesting videos and articles – it’s well worth a visit or two.

So, happy 50th birthday congratulations to the Laser!

(Hat tip to  Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log)

(Update June 13, 2010 – Patricia C. has translated this article in Belorussian.  You can find that article here.  Thanks Patricia!)

The Artsutanov and Pearson prizes

The deadline for the abstract submission for the Artsutanov and Pearson prizes has been moved back from May 15th to May 31st.

We’ve received several entries for both prizes already, but have also received a couple of requests to extend the abstract deadline.  We can do this for a couple of weeks, but no longer…

So, if you’ve not already done so, you can still submit an abstract to enter the competition.  Remember, the winners will receive a monetary prize ($1,500 for the Pearson prize and $2,500 for the Artsutanov prize) as well as airfare and lodging and free admission to the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (Aug 12-15) .

Don’t delay – the abstract deadline will not be extended again.

NASA Centennial Challenges Video

Recently posted on the NASA MICI (Minority Innovation Challenges Institute) website is a short video showing portions of the competition in several of the recent NASA Centennial Challenges.

The Power-Beaming competition is shown, of course, with the 2009 prize-winners, LaserMotive, as the representative.



If you visit their photos/videos page, you can see several other cool things worth watching.

Hat-tip to the LaserMotive blog posting which alerted me to this.

‘Garage Inventors’

A few days ago, NPR radio broadcast a segment on ‘Garage Inventors’.  Three of them were discussed and one was our very own Brian Turner – Captain and Fearless Leader of the Kansas City Space Pirates Climber / Power-Beaming team.

The segment is about 9 minutes long as is well worth listening to.  Check it out!

The photo thumbnail is of Brian working in his garage.  This was the cover of the July 1, 2007 NYTimes Magazine.  Click on it to see a full-size version.

Hat-tip for the NPR broadcast to Susan Seichrist – the designer of this blog’s masthead and, most definitely, Ben Shelef’s better half…

LaserMotive gets a new look

LaserMotive has a new website – a new, spiffy look to present to the world.  The home page includes several photos and a drawing (I’ve never heard of a ‘quadrocopter‘ before)  They also have a new slogan / catchphrase;

Power on a Beam of Light

I like it.

For those who don’t know, Team LaserMotive was the winner of $900,000 in the 2009 Climber / Power-Beaming competition – part of the Space Elevator Games held at the NASA Dryden facility in the Mojave desert.

With their winnings, they’ve now hired some people full time (chronicled here).  Their blog has several new entries, including this one discussing their first White Paper – using lasers to power UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

Make sure you check it out!

The ISEC Legal Pillar is now under ‘new management’

A couple of months ago, Benjamin Jarrell joined ISEC as our new Legal Pillar Lead. He is an attorney practicing in Huntsville, Alabama. In his ‘day job’, he handles a wide variety of matters in his law practice, but his primary interest is in helping government contractors negotiate the federal acquisitions process. He received his Juris Doctor in 2007 from the Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was awarded a certificate in Environmental Law from the Loyola Center for Environmental Law and Land Use. Ben received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2002.

Ben is also a long-time fan of the concept of a Space Elevator having first been exposed to it when reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy.

In 2007, he published an article in the Loyola Law and Technology Annual addressing the international and federal legal environment that should be considered before the Space Elevator can become a reality. This article was titled International and Domestic Legal Issues Facing Space Elevator Deployment and Operation (7 Loy. L. & Tech. Ann. 71 (2007)).

You can access the article here, but please note that it is not to be republished in any form without the express, written consent of Ben.  You can reach him at ‘benjamin.jarrell [at]’.

We are very fortunate that Ben has volunteered to join us at ISEC as the new head of our Legal Pillar and I’m sure he is going to be a great asset to our organization.  If you would like to get involved with our Legal Pillar, please contact Ben at ‘benjamin.jarrell [at]’.

Welcome aboard Ben!

Registration now open for 2010 Space Elevator Conference

Registration is now officially ‘open’ for the 2010 Space Elevator Conference.  Following is a copy of the Press Announcement:

The Space Engineering and Science Institute Presents
2010 Space Elevator Conference
Redmond, Washington, USA
August 13 – 15, 2010
Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation

The 2010 Space Elevator Conference is a three-day conference to be held in Redmond, Washington at the Microsoft Conference Center on August 13-15, 2010.  The conference, focusing on all aspects of Space Elevator development, will engage an international audience of scientists, engineers, educators, managers, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and students.

This conference will feature topical discussions in all of the Four Pillars of Space Elevator Development: Science/Technical, Political/Social, Legal, and Economic. In addition, we anticipate technical and speculative presentations on the topics mentioned below.  The evening of August 12th, a public presentation on the Space Elevator will be held at the Microsoft Conference Center.

We invite you to present a paper on a topic of your interest (details below). Check out the conference web site frequently for updates to the conference program and events as they are finalized over the coming weeks.  More details will be sent out as the conference approaches.

Registration is Now Open
Register Today to get the “Early Bird” registration discounts!

Conference to Include:

  • A Free Public Space Elevator Presentation 7:00pm, August 12, 2010, Microsoft Conference Center
  • Space Elevator Overview Presentation – the popular conceptual design
  • NASA Centennial ChallengesStrong Tether Competition – A NASA challenge in materials engineering in which the tether provided by each team is subjected to a pull test to win a $2 million prize
  • Carbon Nanotube Research – presentation on the progress of high strength CNT research
  • Impact on the Future – transformations enabled by the Space Elevator, including exploration, using space resources to solve problems here on Earth, solar power platforms, extra-Terran bases, and colonization
  • Road map Workshops – focusing on the four pillars of development
  • Presentations of the Pearson and Artsutanov Space Elevator Prizes for the ISEC space elevator research paper competition
  • Shotgun Science Session – science ideas not ready for prime time: rapid sequence, 5 min


 Abstract and Presentation Guidance

Abstracts must be in English, one page or less, and summarize a presentation suitable for the conference. We plan on collecting presentations in PowerPoint or PDF format, and offer them for purchase on CD after the conference. In addition, we encourage, but do not require, authors to submit papers that will also be included on the CD. The nominal length of the required final paper should be about 6-10 pages. Abstracts will be evaluated as they are received and authors will be notified of acceptance within five business days. The preferred procedure and format for abstract submittals for this conference is given on the Call for Papers page on our web site:

For all submissions, please include the title, authors and affiliations, mail address, e-mail, and phone number of the corresponding author, and up to 10 key words.  Abstracts are due by May 28, 2010.  Final acceptance notices will by sent by June 4, 2010. Final drafts of the presentations and any accompanying papers, in specified formats, will be due two weeks before the conference, July 30, 2010.

Send your 2010 Space Elevator Conference abstract and paper submission inquiries to:
Technical Chairman:  Hugh Kelso (hkelso [at]
Microsoft Chairman:  David Horn (david.horn [at]


This conference is going to be the best one yet – make your plans now!


On March 21st, the LASER (Lego Bricks Activity and Space Elevator Race) competition was held in Tokyo, Japan.  This event, organized and sponsored by the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA), is an event that allows school children the opportunity to build and race Climbers, constructed entirely out of Legos.  This is the third time this event has been held and this year was named LASER ’10.

Mr. Hideyuki Natsume, the Director of this event, sent me the following details about the competition:


Regulation of the competition is:

  1. Climb vertical track of 25mm width, 7m high polyester-tether.
  2. The Climber must be made of LEGO bricks.
  3. The Climber must have a ‘residential module’ as would the future Space Elevator!
  4. Award categories were speed, power(payload) and design of the Climber.

The winner of the competition were students from an elementary school!  It was very exciting event not only for the participants, but also the audience.

Overall Awards: (The total score of each category determines the award)

  • 1st Place – Falcon Robots: Team Falcon Robots (elementary school students)
  • 2nd Place – Falcons: Team Falcons (elementary school students)

Individual Category Awards:

  • Speed Award: (For the fastest time to climb.(7m/14.2sec) – Falcon Robots: Team Falcon Robots (elementary school students)
  • Power Award: (For the best efficiency(payload)) – Team Bahamut: Nihon Univ. Buzan Junior High School
  • Mechanical Design Award: (For the best mechanism) – Team Snake: Nihon Univ. Buzan Junior High School
  • SE Design Award: (For the best design for Space Elevator) – COSMIC BOX: Komazawa Gakuen Girl’s Junior High School

Special Awards

  • Nihon University Award: (For the best presentation) – Eritakenchan: Yokohama city Nara Junior High School
  • Team Play Award: (For the best team-work) – SKY-T: Komazawa Gakuen Girl’s Junior High School

We are scheduled for the next competitions this Autumn.  See you next LASER!

(About LASER and previous competition) LASER’09

For additional details, please contact us.
Team LASER ( info [at] )

LEGO is a trademark of ©The LEGO Group.


In addition to sending me details about the competition, Natsume-san also sent me some photos which I’m including in this post.

This is the venue where the competition was held at.  It is the Komazawa Gakuen Girl’s Junior/Senior High School Memorial Auditorium Inagi-city Tokyo, Japan.
This is a closeup of the climbing mechanism for the entrant that won the “Fastest Climber” Award – Falcon Robots: Team Falcon Robots
And here is a closeup of the winning “Residential Module”, entered by COSMIC BOX: Komazawa Gakuen Girl’s Junior High School.
This photo shows the teams working with their ‘racetracks’ suspended from the auditorium ceiling.  The tethers were 7 meters high and 25 mm wide – think automobile ‘seatbelt’…
And this photo shows the competitors, guests and staff of LASER ’10.  What a great photo!

(You can view larger versions of all of these photo thumbnails simply by clicking on them.)

Thank you again, Natsume-san, for sending me all of this information and congratulations to JSEA and all the contestants!

Space Elevator Blog celebrates its 4 year anniversary

Once again, all together now;

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Space Elevator Blog!
Happy birthday to you!

Four years ago yesterday, I started this blog. It’s been yet another exciting year. In keeping with my tradition of writing an ‘anniversary post’ (first year summary, second year summary and third year summary), the following is a list of, IMHO, the more significant happenings in the past 12 months that I was privileged to cover:

The Space Elevator Games has a winner!  After several years of ever-increasing competition requirements and competitor sophistication, The Spaceward Foundation and NASA awarded Team LaserMotive the very cool prize sum of $900,000.  This was for their >2meter/second run (which they did multiple times) in the 2009 Climber / Power-Beaming competition in the Space Elevator Games.  Coverage of these Games was extensive, both via the Internet, including uStream (which I was privileged to moderate along with Bryan Laubscher) and in the conventional media.  Kudo’s must also be given to the other two competitors in this competition, the Kansas City Space Pirates and USST.  Both of these teams have proved they’re very capable and I fully expect them to compete for the $1.1 Million dollars in prize money still available.  Plans for the 2010 Climber / Power-Beaming competition continue apace and will be announced here and at the official site of the Space Elevator Games when finalized.  In the Strong Tether Competition (the other half of the Space Elevator Games), a team from Japan brought the second, ever, carbon nanotube tether to the competition.  Though this tether was not strong enough to win a prize, it is a portent of things to come.  This year’s Strong Tether competition will be held, again, at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference (August 13-15) in Redmond, Washington.

ISEC becomes a real organization.  After spending some time ‘finding our way’, the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) finally emerged as a real force in the Space Elevator community.  I am privileged to be the President of this group and it is a real joy to be able to work with many of the movers and shakers in the Space Elevator effort.  We’ve adopted our first Strategic Plan and are in the process of making it happen.  Each year, we will adopt a space elevator-related topic as our theme for that year and focus our activities around it.  This year it is Space Debris Mitigation.  We have a ‘red team’ headed up by ISEC Director Peter Swan preparing a paper on this topic.  The Pearson prize will be awarded for the best paper presented this year on this topic.  This topic will be a theme at the Space Elevator Conference.  The ISEC Journal will also adopt this as a theme.  We have a Library Project underway, whereby we will create a central repository / search engine for the major papers and studies on this topic.  And finally, the ISEC Poster for 2010 will have Space Debris Mitigation as its theme.

Artsutanov and Pearson prizes announced.  I am particularly thrilled with this development.  Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson are two of the co-inventors of the modern-day thinking about Space Elevator design and operation.  ISEC is honoring these two innovators with prizes named after them.  The Pearson prize is $1,500 and will be awarded to that individual who submits the best paper on our 2010 theme; Space Debris Mitigation.  The Artsutanov prize is $2,500 and will be awarded to that individual who submits the best paper on any other Space Elevator related topic.  In addition, ISEC will invite these prize winners to the 2010 Space Elevator Conference to present their winning papers and receive their winnings.  ISEC will cover travel and lodging expenses for the winners.  Abstracts are beginning to come in and it looks like we’re going to have some very interesting papers created.  The deadline for abstract submission is May 15th and details for these prizes can be found on the ISEC website.

Japan – The Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) sponsored the first Asian Space Elevator Competition in August of 2009.  The winning team was from Germany.  In addition, JSEA, sponsored two Space Elevator competitions (LASER ’09 and LASER ’10) aimed at getting school children interested in the concept of a Space Elevator.  Finally, JSEA held its second annual Space Elevator Conference in December of 2009.  This is a very active group and we expect great things from them in the future.

EuroSpaceward Conference – I was able to attend the 2009 EuroSpaceward Conference (held in Luxembourg in December) and was privileged to be able to make a presentation on ISEC and our future plans.  This is the third year in a row that EuroSpaceward has hosted this conference, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to attend.  The conference was excellent; very informative and a lot of fun to be at.  They’ve just announced their fourth annual conference for Dec 4-5 of this year.  Markus Klettner heads up this organization and it, too, is very active in the Space Elevator effort.

The 2009 Space Elevator Conference.  This was the second year in a row that the conference was held at the Microsoft Conference center in Redmond, Washington and I’m very pleased to say that they will host the 2010 conference again this year (August 13-15).  The Conference facilities are outstanding and contributed to a most-excellent conference this past year.  With all of the ISEC activities we have planned for this year at the conference and, with the Strong Tether competition again being held at the conference, I think this year’s conference will be the best ever.

The Elevator2Space series debuted in 2009 and published a series of 26 episodes.  All of them are funny – it’s difficult to pick a favorite (though I really liked this one and this one and this one).  You can view all of the episodes on their website.  Very, very creative.

Other highlights include seeing Designs for a Space Elevator Base Station, honoring the 40th Anniversary of the first moon landing, the publishing of Space Tethers and Space Elevators and, of course, celebrating the announcement of the world’s first space elevator.

I’ve also enjoyed watching the traffic at this site continuing to grow.  This Space Elevator Blog has recorded well over 288,000 hits since we’ve begun and we’ve been visited by people from 185 different countries!  That’s not all of them, but we’re getting close ?

I also have to mention, again, the fun I had working with Ben Shelef of the Spaceward Foundation and the people at NASA (especially John Kelly and Andy Petro) in the planning and testing leading up to the Climber / Power-Beaming half of the Space Elevator Games.  As most of you know, this competition was held at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.  This is located inside of Edwards Air Force base in the Mojave desert in California.  It is one of the most Über-cool things I’ve ever been involved in.  I put up several posts about this (a couple are here and here), but just have to mention it again – it was unbelievably awesome!

Finally, this past year was special to me on a personal note; I welcomed my first grandchild and I turned 60.  I’m now, officially, getting old…

What will the next 12 months bring?  We have the Space Elevator Games (American and Japanese) to look forward to.  We have Space Elevator Conferences (American and European) to look forward to.  ISEC will continue to coordinate efforts in the Space Elevator arena.  And I’m sure we’ll be surprised by other activities in the Space Elevator effort.

If you want to get involved, join ISEC!  We are helping to push this magnificent concept forward, but we can only go as far as our member donations let us.  We need you – we need your membership donations – we need your enthusiasm and ideas.

Stay tuned!

It’s about time!

I am very pleased to report that the Isle of Man Space Agency today announced plans to build the world’s first Space Elevator.  Details can be found here.  According to the news release, the Isle of Man will be partnering with Fox News in this effort.  Rupert Murdoch is quoted as saying “We have won the ratings race on this planet.  We want to be the first news organization on both the moon and Mars and ensure our supremacy there, too.  Rush Limbaugh will head up the Moon division and Bill O’Reilly will be in charge of the Mars branch and a Space Elevator is the only device powerful enough to lift their egos off of the planet.”

President Barack Obama praised the move saying “This is proof that my new NASA policy is already paying dividends.  I urge Congress to pass legislation to ensure that all workers on the Space Elevator, including illegal immigrants, will have health insurance.

In response, MSNBC issued a press announcement stating “Fox News cannot be allowed to monopolize the ‘space-waves’.  Though we admit that even a Space Elevator is not powerful enough to lift Keith Olbermann’s ego, we will work to find a solution that can.  We call on President Obama and Congress to overcome Republican objections and repeal the Law of Gravity, thus ensuring a fair and level playing field for all.

Osama Bin Laden issued an audio tape promising to build his own Space Elevator, which he will name the “Tower of Terror”.  “You don’t need gravity to behead people” he is quoted as saying.  He also announced plans to build a space station several thousand miles up on the tower and use it to drop infidels to their death.  “Their screaming as they burn up in the atmosphere should make a lovely sound” he said.   The Disney Corporation immediately announced their intention to sue Bin Laden over the use of the name ‘Tower of Terror’ and, in response, Bin Laden issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill Buzz Lightyear as a ‘holy duty’.

The Pope hailed the opening of the new frontiers by saying “We’ve been having difficulty in moving some of our priests and being able to send them to the moon and Mars is a perfect solution for us.”

North Korea immediately denounced the move stating in an official press release; “Our Beloved Leader is mobilizing our armed forces to fiercely repel any attacks from the Space Elevator.  ‘We will deal a decisive and final blow to any and all Elevator invaders!’” he is quoted as saying.

And finally, Sarah Palin is lobbying to become the United States of America’s first ambassador to the Space Elevator saying that  “I can see both the moon and Mars from my house.”

Be wary of pushing buttons…



View all of the episodes (they’re up to 26 episodes now!) here

And, I just found a Tweet from Alex Koll (one of the four ‘climber-nauts’) which said about this episode “Season Finale”…  Really?  I’ll have to contact these guys again and see what’s what…

And, I’m sorry there’s been less-than-normal posting from me on this blog, but I have been very, very busy launching the various ISEC initiatives we’ve adopted for the year.  We’ve received several abstracts already for the Artsutanov and Pearson prizes, we’re getting ready to issue a “Call for Papers” for the ISEC Journal, we’ve got artwork in process for the ISEC Posters, we have a Library project underway and the planning for the upcoming Space Elevator conference proceeds apace.  We’ve had several new volunteers come on board and it takes time to get everyone up to speed.

I’ll be posting on all of this soon…

A skeptical view of earth-based Space Elevators…

I’ve read several books by David Brin and enjoyed them all.  This is the first time, however, I’ve seen a David Brin video (albeit a YouTube version).

He talks about future technologies, Space Shuttle fuel tanks representing a lost opportunity, tethers, solar sails and, briefly, Space Elevators.  He’s a skeptic of the idea of an Earth-based Space Elevator (calling it a ‘far out what if’) but is more positive about putting one on Mars.



Some small nits;

  • In his discussion of solar sails, he says that no one has tried to do this.  However, the Planetary Society has tried once – and failed – and is getting ready to try again.
  • He gives the impression that the taper on a space elevator has to continue increasing from the ground all the way out to the counterweight.  If my understanding is correct, it only has to grow to GEO – from there the tether width can remain constant or even decrease.

A Japanese space elevator

At the 2008 Space Elevator Conference, a large contingent arrived from Japan (I blogged about this here).  One of the many items they brought and showed was a video/cartoon that had been created by some organization in Japan.  I think they also brought this video to the 2007 Space Elevator games held near Salt Lake City in Utah.  I have tried to get permission to show this in the US, but so far without success

However, I did just find a website that is advertising this movie and, if you’re in Japan, you can go see it.  The website is very cool, is bi-lingual (to flip it into English, just click on the ‘English’ button in the upper, right-hand corner of the webpage), and has a trailer of the movie.

Check out the Trailer and, as they have a contact form on their website, I will attempt to use this avenue to get permission to show this here in the US ?