Nine years – and that’s enough for now…

Today marks nine full years that I’ve been hosting and authoring the Space Elevator Blog and I’m going to call it quits, at least for the time being.  I have several other projects on my plate and I’m not getting any younger…

Being a part of the effort to promote the idea of a space elevator over the past nine years has been fun and interesting and full of highlights with my being a part of the Space Elevator Games topping the list.  This competition was held over several years and in several venues and was a joy to participate in.  Spending several days at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (now known as the Armstrong Flight Research Center) with NASA personnel and all the contestants for the 2009 Space Elevator Games was beyond awesome and I want to thank Ben Shelef, the Spaceward Foundation and, of course, NASA for allowing me to be a part of it.  It was truly special.  A close number two was the formation of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), an organization that I was very proud to be the president of for four years.

What is the status of an earth-based space elevator?  In the most important area, tether strength, we’re still where we were nine years ago.  No one has produced a tether from new materials that matches, let alone exceeds, tethers made from conventional materials and until that happens, an earth-based space elevator remains a pipe-dream.  But research continues, and perhaps someday material like this will become a reality.  If and when it does, then perhaps I’ll restart this blog.  I still love the idea of a space elevator, but the reality is that right now (and for the foreseeable future), it’s just not possible to build one…

Two groups still continue to press forward with this idea however, the aforementioned International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) and the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA).  ISEC, under the current leadership of Dr. Peter Swan, is in very capable hands.  While they are not working with the materials science necessary to make a super-strong tether, they continue to investigate other areas in order to, in the very appropriate phrase from Ben Shelef, “increase our understanding of the space elevator“.

If you are interested in keeping up with developments in this arena, you can visit the ISEC web page, “Like” their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

So, goodbye for now and thanks for reading!

The Lonely Astronaut finally gets a Space Elevator

TwistedMojo has a new episode out in the Lonely Astronaut series and it has a space elevator!

If you’re not familiar with the series, an Astronaut is stranded on the moon and somehow survives several decades.  There are rescue attempts, Sexual Harassment training, hallucinations, etc. – but all funny (if you have a warped sense of humor like I do).

The latest episode is about another rescue attempt, this one based on the idea of a lunar and earth-based space elevator.  Forget the ‘science’ – everything is wrong, but it’s still funny.

Oh, and this is definitely NOT workplace safe…



Shoot the Moon update

The folks creating Shoot the Moon – a story about Liftport‘s effort to build a space elevator – have posted another update for their Kickstarter funded project.

Hey, everyone!

Since our last update, we’ve converged on the Seattle area for a month of shooting. This week alone has been packed with activity. Here’s a quick recap:

Our storyboards our in! The talented Ben Granoff has visualized what our special effects sequences might look like. Now that we have these in hand, we’ll pass them onto our model designers/makers (more on that later), and they’ll get started building. Take a look at some of Ben’s work below.

On Tuesday, we stopped by the Tethers Unlimited’s (TU) headquarters in Bothell, Washington. Since a tether is the central component of a space elevator, you can imagine why we wanted to chat with CEO Rob Hoyt and VP of Engineering Jeff Slostad…

You can read more, including seeing some of the storyboard pictures (one shown above) and pictures from the workshop of the people who are designing the model miniatures being used in filming.

As noted above, the team visited Tethers Unlimited and spoke with VP of Engineering Jeff Slostad.  Mr. Slostad gave the Keynote presentation at the 2012 Space Elevator Conference and spoke about “Thinking Unlimited” – not letting your thought process and expectations being bound by previous experiences.

He’s a handsome man…

I’m looking forward to the film…

Weekend Walkabout – Thailand to Japan to Fantasy Land…

Welcome to this edition of Weekend Walkabout.  In this post, we visit India Thailand to see a ‘possible competitor’ to a space elevator, then journey to Japan to see the latest with our favorite anime series, Gundam, and then wind up in what can only be described as “Fantasy Land”.  There’s also a programming note concerning this blog and Facebook.  And without further ado…

A new “lift system” has been demonstrated in India Thailand and it is just awesome.  Frankly, I don’t ever think it will be a competitor to the space elevator 🙂 but it ranks pretty high on my cool-o-meter.  Make sure you watch it to the end…

At the very end, when all of the pieces are falling, it reminded me of one of the qualifying runs by the Kansas City Space Pirates at the 2007 Space Elevator Games.

Next up is a stop in Japan.  If you’re a fan of Anime, you almost certainly know about Gundam.  This started as a TV series in Japan in 1979 and now has grown to be much more than that.  According to Chris Beveridge, who knows much more about these things than I do, something very cool has happened:

While fans of Gundam Build Fighters Try have been treated to a proper simulcast for that series and its previous incarnation, fans of Gundam Reconguista in G haven’t made out as good. But that’s now managed to change some as the series has begun streaming on the official Gundam Info YouTube channel with English subtitles (as well as streams in other territories/subtitles). The addition comes as about twenty-two episodes have been broadcast in Japan since it’s debut last year.

Chris tells us that the plot concept of Gundam Reconguista in G is:

The Universal Century, an era of historic migration into space and space wars has ended, and some time has passed. Now, mankind believes that their pursuits and prosperity will continue on peacefully into the new era, the Regild Century (R.C.)

R.C. 1014. The Capital Tower is a space elevator which towers over the land connecting Earth to space. The tower’s purpose is to bring down Photon Batteries from space that power the Earth, and as such is perceived as a holy place…

Read more about it here.

Finally, we wind up in “Fantasy Land”.  The baseline model for today’s concept of a Space Elevator was defined in the book by Dr. Brad Edwards and Eric Westling; The Space Elevator: A Revolutionary Earth-to-Space Transportation System.  If you want to understand how a space elevator could work in the real-world, this book is a must-read.  I’ve often referred to it on this blog.

However, it appears that this book has become worth its weight in Gold.  Longtime Space Elevator Blog reader Paul R. recently sent me this snapshot from Amazon:

When I checked this item yesterday, this price was still advertised.  Just to let everyone know, I have a copy that I will sell for just $1,999.99!

Finally, some programming notes.  I have killed, once and for all, with a wooden stake to the heart, the “Subscriber” function for this blog.  I’ve tried it twice now, but all I get are registrations from spam-bots and it’s just a waste.  So, if you want to subscribe to this blog, you’ll need to do it via RSS or…

There is now a Facebook page for this blog.  Yes, I’ve gotten with it with technology that’s only several years old 🙂 but still is relevant.  “Like” The Space Elevator Blog on Facebook and you’ll get a notification every time a new post appears on this blog – Thank you!

Hat Tip to Dr. Peter Swan, president of ISEC, for the URL of the new Indian Thai “Space Launch system” and to reader Paul R. for letting me know about the “greatly in-demand” Edwards-Westling book – thank you both!


09Mar2015 Update – Thanks to reader Bob Munck for pointing out that the “space lift” is from Thailand, not India and also that they are called “Girandola” – you learn something new every day…

Book Review – Celestial Phoenix

Yes, I said that my next post was going to be on tether capacities and power systems, but that can wait – a new space-elevator themed book is available!

Celestial Phoenix is written by new (I think) author A. P. Williams and is available on Kindle at Amazon.

Be warned – this book is NOT politically correct.

The gist of the book is that an engineer and his beautiful and talented wife orchestrate the building of a space elevator set against the backdrop of the world gone mad and falling apart.  The elevator is eventually used to start a lunar colony, a place of perhaps the “last, best hope” for humanity when the crap really hits the fan.

In the category of “Did I enjoy the book?”, the answer was an unqualified “Yes”.  I started reading it yesterday evening and only put it down when I was too tired to hold my eyes open.  I spent a good part of today finishing the book.

The space elevator which was built was designed mostly according to the principles described in the Edwards-Westling book on this subject.  Build it on the equator?  Check.  Build it out of carbon nanotubes (or other super-strong material)?  Check.  Increase the capacity of the “seed” tether by using the elevator itself?  Check.  Power the climbers with lasers?  Check.

But there are some differences too.  Williams has the elevator based on an island rather than an ocean-going platform that was described in the Edwards-Westling book.  While this simplifies some things, it also becomes more difficult in other ways as there are no unclaimed islands – wherever you want to build a land-based space elevator, you will have a local government to deal with (Williams writes about this a lot in the book).  Also, and this is my second biggest quibble with the design, Williams describes multiple tethers going up to a single space station.  According to technical people I know and trust, this is just not realistic.  Tethers spaced so closely together will inevitably touch and get tangled up, causing all sorts of problems.  The counterweight (“Apex Anchor” in the current vernacular) will keep everything generally taut.  But there will be oscillations in the tether which will naturally occur and also those that have to be propagated throughout at least some parts of the tether to avoid satellites and other large space debris.  And my biggest quibble with the design is on the subject of space debris, this book ignores the issue.

Still, all in all, it’s not a bad depiction of a possible space elevator – certainly better than some of the half-baked ideas I see on various internet forums…

The writing of the book was, in general (and IMHO of course), fairly well done.  There were a couple of loose ends, some spelling/grammar errors, etc. and also some stereotypes which, for me anyway, detracted from the story.  For example, the “evil government bureaucrat” was an ugly, single, middle aged woman who owned a cat.  Hello!  And the “journalist” who was portrayed as being biased and uniformed was named “McYaps”.  The good people were really good and the bad people were really bad – not much grey there.  Corporations could do no wrong and government could do no right.  And some of the villains, the Chinese and Iranians, were fairly predictable.  Finally, things seemed to go just a bit too well in every technical aspect of the space elevator and colonization of the moon – only one accident was recorded.  Again, that’s just not realistic.  But all in all, the book kept me very interested in what was going to happen next.

And, as implied earlier, Williams is not afraid to offend various ethnic and religious groups, in ways that one usually doesn’t see.  As this is The Space Elevator Blog, and not FoxNews or MSNBC, I’ll not comment on his political leanings.  I will say, however, he has a unique take on how things could fall apart and how they might be put back together again…

Overall, I give this book a rating of 3.5 stars.


Many of you remember, I’m sure, a cartoon on the most-excellent XKCD website entitled Payloads.  This cartoon compared and contrasted, in increments of “horses” (which I calculate to represent 1,200 pound increments), the differences in Launch Vehicle Capacity and Spacecraft mass of various space craft from the past, present and future.

The kicker for Space Elevator fans was, if you moused over the original cartoon, the comment “With a space elevator, a backyard of solar panels could launch about 500 horses per year, and a large power plant could launch 10 horses per minute” would briefly appear.

I have no idea where he got the space elevator numbers from but, as a proponent of the idea of a space elevator, I have to compliment the enthusiasm on his part 🙂

How much payload COULD a space elevator launch?  The answer to that is, as you might expect, complicated.  It depends almost exclusively on the carrying capacity of the tether and the power system.  I’ll talk more about this in the next post, but for now, you can read the Space Elevator Power System Analysis and Optimization document written by Spaceward CEO Ben Shelef.  It lays out very clearly why power systems have such a profound effect on the throughput of a space elevator.

Here is my contribution / augmentation to the XKCD cartoon showing the weight of the Climber and the Payload which can be carried by a Climber for the Edwards-Westling baseline 20MetricTon space elevator.

Total Climber mass, with Payload, is 20 Metric Tons.  Payload makes up about 40%.

Click on the graphic to see a larger version.

Weekend Walkabout – From shooting things into the sun to India to Canada…

This Weekend Walkabout continues to catch up on some things I didn’t blog about while I was taking my holiday break.

We start off by hypothetically shooting things into the sun, then learn about the latest success from the Indian space program and wind up in Canada – learning about the Hudson Bay Space Elevator…

Have you ever been interested in shooting someone into the sun?  Want to know the physics involved and some of the problems you’re going to face?  Well, fear not – Mr. Ryan Hardy has done the research for you!  An answer posted by him over at Quora (and reproduced at Gizmodo, which is where I found it) makes it clear that, unless you are contemplating using a space elevator for this task, you are going to flatten and incinerate your payload.

I love this article – he’s actually run the numbers (something which is all-too-often sadly lacking in articles like this).  And humor abounds – I think my favorite part of the writeup was this;

Once the person makes it through the barrel, they will be immediately greeted by Earth’s atmosphere at Mach 90. The acceleration from the resulting drag would be comparable to the acceleration felt while coming out of the cannon, but in the opposite direction. The thermal loading would heat the air ahead of the person to tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of Kelvin.

So, in summary, you’ve embarked on one of the largest engineering projects in history and found a way to pulverize and incinerate a human being in less than three thousandths of a second.

Read the whole thing – it’s a treat – well done Mr. Hardy!

(The image is the Lego version of the Schwerer-Gustav, an enormous artillery cannon used by Nazi Germany in WWII.  Ryan Hardy’s article shows why even a device as large as this has nowhere near the power to shoot something into the sun.  Click on the image to see a somewhat larger version).

Next up is another milestone for that under-the-radar space program from India, this the successful launch of their Next Generation Launch Vehicle, one intended to put payload directly into geosynchronous orbit and also, eventually, for crewed vehicles.

The actual launch is just before the 26 minute mark.  You can read more about this event at the most excellent SpaceRef website.

I have blogged many times (for example here) about India and the space elevator.  I think they will have both the expertise and the desire to build and operate a space elevator.  They have a real and growing space program.  They are a respected military power.  And two of the prime possible locations for a space elevator are in the Indian ocean with Indian access via direct sea lanes.

Don’t discount India – they really could be the first ones

And finally, we have a hypothetical space elevator anchored in Hudson Bay (yes, the Hudson Bay in Canada).  This has been supposedly described by Scott Sigler in his book The Rookie.  Don’t confuse this book (which is about football in the future) with The Rookie with Dennis Quaid (which is about contemporary baseball).

I haven’t read the book yet (I’ve put it on my to-be-purchased list), but I did see this review of it by Paul L on Scott Sigler’s website.  He points out the following:

Hudson Bay is at 60 degrees North latitude. There’s just no way to anchor a space elevator at Hudson Bay with a satellite or a counterweight. And if you tried to build from Hudson Bay to a satellite at the equator (with the counterbalance going south of the equator) the forces don’t balance. Instead their would be a huge torque on the elevator (let alone no feasible way to build the elevator that far north).

He’s right, but it’s a shame you can’t build a space elevator in Canada.  It could be guarded by the Royal Canadian Elevator Police, it could have a beer named after it (or perhaps a line of clothes) and, could you imagine what Doug and Bob McKenzie could do with this?  OMG – look what they did with the Canadian arm on the space shuttle:

Oh those wacky Canadians…

Should we give up on the dream of space elevators?

Making the rounds over the past several days has been the BBC Future article Should we give up on the dream of space elevators?

The author, Nic Fleming, quotes both Elon Musk (of Tesla, SpaceX , SolarCity, Paypal and who knows what else) and Dr. Peter Swan, the President of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC).  Mr. Musk states that “This is extremely complicated. I don’t think it’s really realistic to have a space elevator” and, that it would be easier to “have a bridge from LA to Tokyo” than it would be to build a space elevator.  Dr. Swan, on the other hand, thinks building a space elevator is a “slam dunk” once the materials problem has been solved.

I must respectfully take issue with statements from both parties.

Musk’s statements regarding the space elevator’s complexity and building a bridge from LA to Tokyo are almost certainly true, but I fail to see the relevance.  Just because something is hard to do doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile attempting.  And, building a bridge from LA to Tokyo is not going to open up the solar system to colonization and mineral mining and all of the other truly spectacular opportunities that await.

And I can’t agree with Dr. Swan’s statement about the non-materials issues / problems being “slam dunks” either.  There are so many unknowns about building and operating a space elevator that using the term “slam dunk” to describe them is really premature.  Yes, humans have decades of experience in space, but not with constructing and operating anything remotely like a space elevator.  And yes, the unknowns are being addressed – it’s a major focus of ISEC (an organization of which I was proud to be the President for four years).  I liked to say that one of the things we did/do at ISEC was to “take away reasons that people can say ‘no’ to a space elevator”.  But we’re still in the early stages of that effort.  It is quite possible that technical issues will ultimately make a space elevator impossible.  But we don’t see any now and, unless and until we do, the idea is so compelling that it would be foolish not to pursue it.

At this point, it might be useful to review what the advantages of a hypothetical space elevator are over conventional rockets (IMHO of course):

  1. The space elevator is massively scalable.  If/when a space elevator becomes possible, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t build one (or more than one) that can send hundreds of tons of payload from earth to space every day.  It’s a transportation infrastructure, like the trans-continental railroad.
  2. Riding on a space elevator is akin to riding on a high-speed train.  You do not have to worry about cushioning cargo against high-g forces and the “shake, rattle and roll” that always accompanies rocket launches.
  3. The space elevator will pollute less.  I don’t know the numbers here and don’t know how much pollution (however you want to define that term) a rocket generates, but the space elevator’s “pollution” should be essentially zero.
  4. The space elevator should be safer.  Rockets still have a 1-3% failure rate and it’s difficult to see how that can be significantly improved.  A space elevator should have a failure rate close to 0%.
  5. It should be cheaper to send cargo to space via a space elevator rather than via rockets.  This alleged advantage is, IMHO, more difficult to prove.  It’s always a great talking point; “Space Elevators will be able to send payload into space much cheaper than rockets can“, but I’ve yet to see the numbers on this (despite my best efforts).  It’s hoped that this is true, but it’s not a “slam dunk”…

I don’t see any obvious disadvantages of a space elevator vs. conventional rockets.  Yes, it’s true that a ride to space in a space elevator is much slower, but so what?  As you can have multiple cargo loads on a space elevator at the same time, you can set up a pipeline – getting cargo to LEO or GEO or points in between/beyond on a daily or near-daily basis.  And yes, it’s also true that human cargo will traverse the Van Allen belts (and other places of radiation) for a much longer period of time on a space elevator than they would be in rockets.  But, if you assume that this problem is going to be solved for longer space voyages (to Mars and beyond), then whatever technology is used to solve this problem will apply equally to both modes of transport.

One possible game-changer is if SpaceX can really prove the concept of reusable rockets.  If they can do this significantly better than NASA could with the Space Shuttle, then they may largely negate two of the potential advantages of the space elevator (scalability and cost).  It remains to be seen how many times a SpaceX rocket can be re-used and what the turnaround time/costs/issues are.  Let’s remember that the cost of a 747 is much more than a rocket, but the 747 can be “reused” thousands of times and thus the cost per trip / per pound is significantly amortized.

Fun times ahead…

Last week for ISEC Membership drive!

Just a reminder that this is the last week for the 2015 ISEC membership drive!

ISEC is holding its second annual Membership drive. A one-year Professional level membership, new or renewal, can be purchased for just $58 (regular price is $68) while a one-year Student level membership, new or renewal, can be purchased for just $20 (regular price is $25).

Any new or renewing members can choose as their membership benefit, any publication currently offered by ISEC. This includes any issue of CLIMB – The Space Elevator Journal or any of the several ISEC reports that have been produced; each of them giving an in-depth look at a specific aspect of the Space Elevator.

Professional level members are eligible to receive both the print and electronic versions of these publications while Student level members are eligible to receive the electronic versions of these publications.

This membership drive ends on February 28th so don’t delay – Join or Renew your membership now!

Weekend Walkabout – Seattle to India to Russia…

This edition of Weekend Walkabout starts in the USA (specifically Seattle), moves on the India and then finishes in Russia.  There is also a ‘programming note’ I discuss at the end of this post.  And without further ado…

Our first stop is in Seattle, Washington, USA.  According to, our friends at Liftport is hosting a talk about the space elevator (“Space Elevator – Past, Present, and Future”) on Wednesday, February 25th at 7:30pm.  This event will be held at T.S. McHugh’s Irish Pub in Seattle, Washington.  From the announcement:

The Space Elevator is an idea that has been around for over 100 years. Building a ladder to space and climbing to the heavens by using a robot attached to a string, straight up. So what is the status of this project? Where do we stand? What do we need to make this vision a reality?

There is a Facebook page you can Like to get more information to follow this and other STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) events.

Next up is a stop in India. I had previously blogged about the International Space Conference which was held at Amity University in India.  The idea of a space elevator as well as the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) was well represented at this conference by Mr. Sourabh Kaushal, a long-time colleague in this effort.  ISEC was a “Knowledge Partner” sponsor.

From all reports, the conference was quite successful.  The picture, below, shows ISEC literature being distributed at the conference.  More pictures from the Conference have now been posted online.

Lastly, we make a stop in Russia.  I found a website / forum that appears to be all-things space elevator.  There are only a few posts and all of them are dated May 5th, 2014.  I don’t know if they really were posted on that date or if it’s some bug/issue with the website.  I’ll be checking it from time to time to see if there is anything new posted.

Most of the items on there have already been covered in this blog, but there were links to a couple of videos that I hadn’t seen before.  The first one shown was originally aired by the Russian state-sponsored TV station,, and shows someone giving a brief explanation about the space elevator.  It was very nice to see that Yuri Artsutanov was credited with the idea – that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

If you’re not a native Russian speaker, you can translate the website using Chrome, but you’re on your own listening to the videos 🙂

Finally, a programming note.  Some of you may recall that a few months ago, I had turned on the feature for this blog to have registered Users – i.e., people could subscribe to the blog and have it automatically send them current postings.  After some complaints and problems, I turned it off.  With the new version (4.1) of WordPress which I’m now running on, I’m hopeful that these issues have been taken care so I’ve turned the feature back on.  Please let me know if you are experiencing any problems with this feature.

The Incredible (Mr.) Limpet

A study was recently released by the Journal Interface which showed that the teeth of Limpets contained the strongest material yet found in nature.  This material has been measured to have a tensile strength of 3.0 to 6.5 GPa, stronger than spider-silk (the previous champion) and approximately the same strength as the carbon fibers produced by Toray.

6.5 GPa is about 20-25% of the strength needed to build a space elevator, so this is a potentially significant development.

It is speculated that the reason for the strong teeth is that limpets need them to extract nutrients from rocks and evolution has given them the means to do so.  The material in the teeth which provides the strength, nano-fibers of Goethite, are something I’ve never heard of before.  Not being a materials scientist, I’m probably talking through my hat here, but perhaps someone could infuse a substance harder than rock with some of the nutrients needed by limpets, and see if limpets can further evolve to extract it.  Also, there are myriad types of limpets and they exist in both fresh and salt water.  Perhaps some of them have evolved even stronger teeth…

At the very least, it should give real materials scientists something new to think about in their quest to develop stronger and stronger materials.

One final note: one of the authors of the study was none other than our friend Dr. Nicola Pugno.  Nicola has been a long-time researcher in the field of materials development and has authored numerous articles on this subject, including ones in Volume 1 and Volume 2 of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal.


ISEC Membership Drive!

ISEC is holding its second annual Membership drive.  A one-year Professional level membership, new or renewal, can be purchased for just $58 (regular price is $68) while a one-year Student level membership, new or renewal, can be purchased for just $20 (regular price is $25).

Any new or renewing members can choose as their membership benefit, any publication currently offered by ISEC.  This includes any issue of CLIMB – The Space Elevator Journal or any of the several ISEC reports that have been produced; each of them giving an in-depth look at a specific aspect of the Space Elevator.

Professional level members are eligible to receive both the print and electronic versions of these publications while Student level members are eligible to receive the electronic versions of these publications.

This membership drive ends on February 28th so don’t delay – Join or Renew your membership now!

Shoot the Moon – more updates

Over the past few weeks, the Kickstarter campaign to create the Shoot the Moon documentary has issued a couple of updates:

Project Update #12 – Posters, starships and more filming in the Northwest

Hello Everyone! Happy New Year!

2015 has started with a flurry of activity for Shoot The Moon. The team will be in Oregon and Washington for the next few weeks shooting additional interviews, b-roll, and capturing Michael and David’s activities. If you’re in the neighborhood give us a shoutout on twitter.

The team back in New York City are busy organizing the existing footage and prepping for the editing process. The home stretch is upon us.

Thomas Roner of The Chopping Block/Chop Shop has been designing the Shoot The Moon swag. He just completed the movie poster!

We hope you like it as much as we do. Thanks Thomas!

We asked you to help us get some great special effects for this movie and you delivered. We are now happy to report that the storyboards are nearly complete. During our time in the Northwest, we met up with Charles Adams – the world renowned starship builder and designer. He will soon get to work designing amazing space elevator stuff for the special effects sequences. We are lucky to have him onboard and happy that he found the time in the midst of his work on the next Star Trek movie and other cool Sci-Fi projects.

Stay tuned for our Kickstarter survey. We are nearly there in terms of shipping items to our backers.

Thanks again for all your support! We wouldn’t be able to do this without you!
The Shoot The Moon team

Project Update #13 – Home stretch for Production

Dear backers,

As we gear up to film the miniature sequences you so generously helped us fund, the main production of Shoot The Moon is in the home stretch! Expect a bunch of updates over the next 30 days as we finish shooting the body of the film.

In the meantime, a side project of mine could use your help if you’re so inclined! Brian And Lindsay Will Totally Eat That is just finishing what has been a very exciting Kickstarter campaign.

It’s a comedy webseries I’m going to direct for I’m really proud of the two pilot episodes we’ve put out, and if you have a few bucks to spare, we could really use the help!

Back it now!

Benjamin Ahr Harrison

ISEC January 2015 eNewsletter now available

The January, 2015 eNewsletter from the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is now available.

You can access the eNewsletter here.

You can also view all eNewsletters that have been issued by ISEC by going to the ISEC website and then accessing the Resources -> ISEC eNewsletters tab.

Finally, you can sign up to be on the ISEC mailing list, ensuring that you’ll be among the first to be “in the know” about all the goings-on at ISEC.

IAC2015 Updates

Back in the saddle again…

In November, I posted about the upcoming IAC2015 Conference to be held in Jerusalem, Israel, in October of 2015. There are a couple of updates worth noting:

First, Dr. Peter Swan, the President of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) has sent out a reminder that Abstracts for papers/presentations that anyone might wish to submit are due soon – February 23rd, to be exact. Papers/presentations related to the Space Elevator will occur in Session Three:


Title – Technology Assessment and Space Elevators Components

Description – The recently completed IAA study, “Space Elevators – Feasibility and Next Steps” looked at engineering, operational, and funding steps towards an operational capability. This session will evaluate the current and near-term potential of the necessary technologies. They will be evaluated with respect to the NASA TRL’s and identify risks associated. In addition, the session can accept the analysis of other issues leveraging this remarkable transportation capability of routine, inexpensive and safe access to our solar system.

IPC members
Co-Chair: Dr. Peter Swan, tel.: 480 443 5698, SouthWest Analytic Network, United States;
Co-Chair: Mr. Robert E Penny, tel.: 480 892-9755, Cholla Space Systems, United States;
Rapporteur: Mr. Akira Tsuchida, Earth-Track Corporation, Japan;

So, if you want to be a presenter at this conference and have not already submitted your Abstract, you’ll want to do so soon.

And second, there has just been a promotional video released about the upcoming conference.

Taking a break…

It’s the holidays, family is in town and there are a few other things going on, so I’m taking a break from blogging.

Unless something momentous happens (“Flash – XXXX University announces the creation of a 45 MegaYuri tether!”), my next post will be on Monday, January 5th February 1st.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

Research Mini-Workshop

At the previous two ISEC Space Elevator conferences, several workshops were held as part of the daily proceedings.  These workshops, each devoted to a specific topic, were focus on advancing our understanding of the space elevator.  Dr. Peter Swan, the president of ISEC, has been instrumental in organizing these workshops and finding a leader for each of them.  Conference attendees participated in each of the workshops and the end result of each of them was a written summary of the discussion and an action plan to move forward.

The Summaries from most of these workshops were posted on the ISEC website (I had previously blogged about that here).

A new workshop summary has now been posted on the ISEC website – this from the 2014 Conference.  This workshop was held as part of the activities of the ISEC Research Committee.  The purpose of this committee, chaired by Dr. John Knapman, is to categorize and prioritize the issues which must be addressed as part of the effort in defining the parameters of a space elevator.

The goals of the workshop were specified as:

  • Gain an awareness of the ISEC Research Committee’s goals and process
  • Review the list of topics that the Committee has produced
  • Identify potential contributors with relevant skills and interests
  • Where possible, add some level of detail, particularly on those topics where little work has so far been done
  • Where possible, propose who could carry out the work and where

You can find the summary of the Research workshop here.

All of the Summaries posted so far can be found on the ISEC website.  From the Home page, point to the Activities tab and you will then be able to see the Summaries from the 2013 and the 2014 ISEC Space Elevator conferences.

Shoot the Moon update

Shoot the Moon, one of the two space elevator documentaries successfully funded via Kickstarter, has posted an update on its Kickstarter website page.  This update also includes one of the cooler selfies that I’ve seen…

I thought the storyboard sketch drawing from the project update was particularly cool and so have included it at the top of this post.

As for me, I’m looking forward to my “4.5 inches of solar-powered, spinnin’ moon goodness”.

If this Documentary, along with Sky Line, also successfully funded via Kickstarter, really shows up in 2015, it will give a big boost to publicizing the effort to create a space elevator.

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur!

Today marks what would have been Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 97th birthday – it’s very unfortunate that this science fiction luminary is no longer with us.

In previous years, I have written a lot about what Sir Arthur meant to the science fiction community, to the space elevator community and to visionaries everywhere – he was truly one of a kind.

Rather than repeat myself, let me just refer you to this posting I wrote on his birthday back in 2009.

And, as I also posted just a few days ago, the American co-inventor of the modern-day concept of the space elevator, Jerome Pearson, gave the Keynote speech at the 2013 ISEC Space Elevator Convention and he talked about his interactions with Sir Arthur.  It’s a very interesting talk and well worth the time to listen to.

RIP Sir Arthur – we miss you…

(The picture is from the back of the album cover – yes, a vinyl album – THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE – excerpts read by the author.  Click on it for a larger version.  In this album Sir Arthur reads various passages from the book – it’s really a thrill to hear them.  The album is long out-of-print, but can be found online occasionally.)

Peter Griffin learns about the Space Elevator…

I’ve seen this on a couple of websites lately (here and here) but don’t know who to give credit to.

The last sentence deserves comment: “If built, a space shuttle that docs [sp] at the top could be reached by the space elevator, thus eliminating the need for the shuttle to travel through Earth’s atmosphere and therefore greatly reducing the cost of space travel.”  The space shuttle was designed to re-enter the atmosphere as it had wings and landing gear and drag-chutes and all that good stuff.  If you were going to build a spacecraft that took people / cargo from a space elevator to Point A or Point B, then you wouldn’t need those (and related) items, you could build spacecraft that were optimally designed to travel in space.

Plus, being a bit pedantic, a space “shuttle” could dock anywhere along the length of a space elevator where docking facilities existed, not just at the top.

Anyway, yes Peter, yes…

Weekend Walkabout – Maker Faire, cosmic radiation and Kerbal…

This edition of Weekend Walkabout takes us from a very cool Convention / Faire in Tokyo, Japan and then onto Central Europe (via the International Space Station) and finally winds up with the Kerbal Space Program…

First up is another trip to Japan – and to the recently held Maker Faire, “…the globe-trotting DIY convention that attracts both weekend hobbyists and high-end tinkerers…”.  This web page has a number of very interesting photographs, ranging from a musical instrument called an Otamatone to neon samurai to virtually brushing an anime characters teeth via an Oculus VR headset to robots galore.  Of course there is a “space elevator” (the 14th picture from the top if I counted correctly).  The site takes forever to load – not sure why, but many of the pictures are worth the wait.  I think this would have been a lot of fun to attend.  The Maker Faire map page shows that these events are held all over the globe – you’re sure to find one near you in the near future…

Next up is a trip to Europe (specifically central Europe) via the International Space Station – (ISS).  One of the potential issues facing manned trips aboard a Space Elevator is prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation.  An experiment (code-named MATROSHKA) was undertaken over several years on the ISS.  A specialized mannequin was constructed, containing radiation sensors.  This mannequin was then subjected to many years worth of radiation exposure on the ISS and the data was then sent to scientific labs in Poland, Germany and Austria for analysis.  Their conclusion was “…that the individual dosimeters worn by the crew inside the ISS overestimated the actual dose measured inside the phantom by about 15%. However, in open space this overestimation exceeded 200%…”  So, cautiously good news.  However, as the analysts also pointed out “We must remember that measurements within the MATROSHKA experiment were performed at low Earth orbit where the Earth’s magnetosphere significantly reduces the number of charged particles from cosmic radiation. In interplanetary space there is no such shielding”.  Once again, I am indebted to the most-excellent SpaceRef newsletter for this story.

Finally, we visit the Kerbal Space Program.  This software package is described as “KSP is a game where the players create and manage their own space program. Build spacecraft, fly them, and try to help the Kerbals to fulfill their ultimate mission of conquering space.”  This seems to be like a Microsoft Flight Simulator for spacecraft.  I had run across this many months ago, but as I didn’t see a way to build a space elevator with it, I passed it by.  However, I’ve recently found a YouTube video from someone (Mr. Scott Manley) who has tried to build a space elevator with this program.  As Scott describes his efforts to (ultimately unsuccessfully) build a space elevator with KSP, he talks about how a real space elevator would work.  Some of his facts and terminology are incorrect, but enough of it is on target to make the whole exercise (IMHO) interesting.

That’s all for this week!

Jerome Pearson’s Keynote speech from the 2013 ISEC Space Elevator Conference

After a very long delay, the keynote speech given by Mr. Jerome Pearson, the American engineer who is credited with co-inventing the modern day concept of a space elevator, at the 2013 ISEC Space Elevator Conference, is finally available on Vimeo.

Jerome’s presentation focused on Sir Arthur C. Clarke, the noted science-fiction author who wrote, among many other works, the Fountains of Paradise, the book that interested a lot of people (including yours truly) in the idea of a space elevator.  Jerome provided technical assistance for this book and had a long friendship with Sir Arthur.

Jerome talks about the works of Sir Arthur, his life and his interactions with him.  It’s a very interesting speech by one of the pioneers in the effort to design and build a space elevator and is well worth the 37+ minutes you would invest in watching it.

Highly, highly recommended…


Coming soon…

I’ve got not one, not two, but THREE projects in the works for this blog.

The first I’ve already mentioned – a Materials primer that can be referred to and and cited when people want to know what materials we might be able to build a space elevator tether with and why they are materials that could work.  I’ve enlisted some expert help for doing this so I’m hopeful that the final result will be something definitive.

The second is an FAQ – something that the space elevator community badly needs.  Time after time I see the same questions asked on forums – and it would be just so nice to say “Look at the Space Elevator FAQ – Section 7.4” (or wherever) to see the answer.  There are two problems with an FAQ, of course.  The first is to be sure that the answers/explanations are concise and correct and the second is keeping them that way as developments in the field occur.  I’ve also enlisted some expert help for this project so, again, I’m hoping I’ll have something that all of us can use to advance our understanding of the Space Elevator.  Of course I don’t pretend to have all the answers and as people may challenge me and show where my answer to a specific question is incorrect or incomplete, I’ll be updating the FAQ accordingly.

And the third project?  I’m really excited about this – I haven’t had an idea this good in a while.  I’m not going to say anything more about it for now, but if I can pull this off, I think we’re all going to enjoy it.

The FAQ will happen first, and it will happen in pieces – as I post them, I’ll also be posting more explanatory text on the blog about the specific FAQ answers.

So, stay tuned!

The Space Elevator makes the Huffington Post…

The idea of a space elevator was featured in Tuesday’s HUFFPOST VIDEO online.  The level of discussion is not very deep and anyone who has followed the idea of a space elevator for any time won’t learn anything new here, but it’s great that this idea is being brought to an audience which probably hasn’t been exposed to it before.

The video starts out by referencing the IAA study on space elevators, but, unfortunately, doesn’t give any links for the listeners to learn more about the study – but still, all in all, it’s a plus…

(I’ve used a new WordPress plugin to be able to display this video.  I’ve tested it on a couple of platforms and it seems to work OK, but in case you don’t see or can’t play the video, you can also access it here.)

The LiftPort Lunar elevator

This video is much in the news lately…

I first saw this video at the 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conference.  Michael Laine, the driving force behind LiftPort, gave a short talk at the conference and showed this video.  I’m not sure if the one now viewable on YouTube is an updated version from the one he showed, but it seems to be the same one I saw.  It depicts the deployment of a Lunar Space Elevator and it’s capability to mine regolith and transport it back to earth (or wherever).  There’s a lot of detail shown but even more detail that’s not shown – but it is a concept video, not an engineering blueprint.

The video shows a probe/pod that is launched from earth to some stationary point from the moon.  Then an anchor (attached to a space elevator tether) is deployed from the probe/pod to the lunar surface.  There it is anchored and then rovers are deployed to dig up regolith, process it (I assume), and then bring it back to the anchor for eventual shipment back to earth.

There has been a fair amount of debate in the space elevator community about the utility / usefulness of a lunar space elevator.  According to the LiftPort website, the Purpose of building a lunar space elevator would be:

The Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure is going to serve many purposes for the human race. The first and most obvious is the opening up of the Moon for tourism and colonization purposes. LSEI can be built with current materials, but it would not have a lot of throughput. The goal of the study would be to determine a method of increasing transport throughput to enable humans to go back to the Moon. LiftPort’s LSEI architecture provides consistent, safe, and high-volume lunar transportation. Each Ribbon attached to the lunar surface allows for an additional 260 kg of cargo. Built up over time, 5, 10 or 15 such Ribbons allows for human-rated heavy-cargo capacity. By building a complete, reusable, and expandable infrastructure, LSEI can send three astronauts to the lunar surface every four weeks. In addition, the LSEI expands the capabilities of the Deep Space Habitat envisioned by the Global Exploration Roadmap and endorsed by NASA. Accessing the Moon also means accessing the minerals of the Moon. The Moon’s suspected to possess a motherlode of helium3, which many (ourselves included) believe it could be used to energize nuclear fusion reactions and provide vast amounts of energy in a process which avoids the radioactive waste of nuclear fission (the process used in nuclear power on earth currently.)

I would respectfully disagree.  Humanity has already proven (with 1960’s technology!) that it can send people to the moon (and back again).  It will essentially take the same amount of rocket energy to get someone launched from earth to the moon as it would take to launch someone from the earth to a lunar space elevator.  The launch needs are the same – and that’s the big dog on the block.  The landing requirements might be a bit different – landing on the moon versus rendezvousing with a lunar space elevator spaceport, but not by orders of magnitude.  And a rocket can land anywhere on the moon – with a space elevator, you’re tied to one surface point on the moon.  Of course if you pick the right point, maybe that’s all you need.  But the point I’m making here is that a Lunar Space Elevator will not, IMHO, materially improve our ability to send people to the moon…

At the Space Elevator Conference, Michael Laine also mentioned that a Lunar Space Elevator could also be a good precursor to an earth-based elevator, giving us experience in issues we would have to deal with here.  But, again IMHO, it would be unlike an earth-based space elevator in so many ways.  The entire physics of it is different; on earth, the space elevator tether is “held up” by centrifugal force and is held down by gravity (and a clamp at the earth-anchor station) while on the moon, the tether is held up by gravity – assuming it’s pointed towards earth – and centrifugal force would play no role here.  There is no belt of space debris a lunar elevator would have to worry about.  On the other hand, there would be oscillations in the tether which would have to be dealt with, as with an earth-based space elevator, and one would also have to deal with the logistics of an anchor station.  Also, one would need a method to detect deep-space objects which might impact the space elevator and a method to deal with them.  But at the end of the day, I think the issues would be so different that the only important, relevant experience which would be gained would be experience in building and maintaining big structures in space, things that the ISS is already dealing with.

Where I DO think a Lunar elevator might have some value would be as what was shown in the video (and mentioned as a secondary item on the LiftPort website) – launching valuable cargo harvested on the moon (helium-3 ?) and sending it back to earth (or wherever).  A Lunar elevator would certainly be superior to rockets in this regard.  But it might not be the best solution either, a lunar railgun launcher (such as in Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) might be more efficient.

At the end of the day, I think it’s all going to come down to economics – can a Lunar Space Elevator pay for itself?  Frankly, I’m dubious.  Leonard David, space reporter/author and keynote speaker at last year’s ISEC Space Elevator Conference, told me I should never end a post with the words “Time will tell“, so I won’t write that here, but I think that whether or not a Lunar Elevator will prove to be a viable economic idea will only be determined by future events 🙂

Weekend Walkabout – Astronomy, SETI and garbage…

In this edition of Weekend Walkabout, we take an eclectic journey from telescopes, to SETI to music about how to deal with earth’s garbage…

I’m sure that one of the reasons I was susceptible to the idea of a Space Elevator was my early interest in Astronomy.  The brief introduction I had to it in High School made me “look up” at night, wondering what was “out there” and how I could get “there” to find out.  My father made the stand I used to grind an 8″ reflector mirror for a Newtonian telescope (albeit not a very good one) and I spent many an evening outside learning the constellations and watching the planets move among them.  I tried to get my son interested in astronomy with my enthusiasm and giving him a Meade ETX-90 telescope and showing him how to use it, but sadly it just wasn’t for him.  The upside to that is that I have that telescope at home and have been gradually accumulating lenses and filters for it and have been starting to explore the field of astrophotography.  I bring all this up as a precursor to tell you about a new, FREE, eBook about Telescopes I have just learned about.  The eBook, TELESCOPE 101: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF TELESCOPES is authored by Marcus Schenk, and is available here (it’s in pdf format).  I haven’t read the entire book, but what I have seen so far is a very solid, user-friendly introduction to the various types of telescopes, WHY there are various types, issues that arise in using them for different types of observation and how to solve them, etc.  It appears to be an excellent primer on the subject and I would recommend it for anyone who has an interest in this.  And it’s FREE – hard to beat!

Does SETI need to shut up?  Speaking of what’s “out there”, I’ve always been interested in the SETI – the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence project (I used to have their search number crunching program on my computer, but during one of my upgrades, lost it).  It’s one of the “great questions” and I (probably naively) hope to have an answer to it in my lifetime.  Aliens, and whether or not they might be “friendly” to us, are a mainstay of science-fiction.  One school of thought says that Aliens WILL be friendly but another school of thought says they may not.  And that leads me to ideapod, which is (and I quote) “… a new social-media platform for sharing and connecting ideas“.  This question about SETI is being debated on this platform and it’s an interesting discussion, indeed.  If you want to participate, head on over to the ideapod community discussion…  In a previous post, I discussed StackExchange, another forum for discussions about various topics (including the space elevator).  It’s hard to know where the winners and losers will be in social media and online forums.  On one hand, I think that “expert guidance” is helpful – I see so many naive conversations about the space elevator on various forums that I want to cringe.  On the other hand, I think it’s important that unpopular ideas not be dismissed as they might, ultimately, be the correct ones.  There are many examples of this but a modern day Poster Child for “Unpopular positions that ultimately proved correct” is Alfred Wegener’s idea of plate tectonics.  It was an idea that was universally ridiculed when first proposed, but is now accepted as generally correct.  Global warming alarmists take note…

Let’s finish today’s post with MUSIC!  There have been several songs and music-videos about the space elevator (or that, at least, have had “space elevator” listed somewhere in their description).  I have reviewed several and found that almost all of them are just “yucch”, certainly not my cup of tea.  We now have another music “entry”, this about a “space escalator” that transports all of our waste into the sun.  The album, Shoot It At The Sun is by a group called The Porchistas.  Getting rid of the earth’s garbage by shooting it at the sun is an idea which gets periodically revisited by people who don’t realize that our species generates hundreds of millions of tons of garbage each year – far more than even the most optimistic space elevator scenario can envision.  It’s a problem we’re going to have to solve HERE, not by shipping our waste anywhere else.  Even “small” portions of this are so large, they defy the export solution…  Anyway, back to the music.  Frankly, I don’t like it, but perhaps you will.  For my money, the best (by far) song about the space elevator is the one by Glen Phillips which you can find on his Secrets of the New Explorers album (and on the sidebar of this blog).  I consider it the unofficial theme song of the space elevator and it’s going to take something really special to knock it off it’s throne.

More next weekend…

Hat tips to Harvey Burgess (for the information about the Telescope eBook) and Adrianna Roberts (for letting me know about ideapod and the ongoing SETI discussion).

The Miracle of Endymion

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows about how the Space Elevator has become a staple in parts of Japan’s culture – TV shows, cartoon shows, Anime, Manga, books, etc. with a space elevator in them are quite common.

One of these movies, Miracle of Endymion, was released in 2013 (with a Blu-Ray edition coming out in February of next year).  From the Wiki:

The Toaru Majutsu no Index Movie: Miracle of Endymion (劇場版 とある魔術の禁書目録 エンデュミオンの奇蹟 Gekijōban Toaru Majutsu no Indekkusu: Endyumion no Kiseki) is a theatrical film based on the popular Toaru Majutsu no Index franchise released on February 23, 2013. It is centered around a terrible threat against the once peaceful Academy City that could lead to its destruction.

Academy City’s space elevator [is] Endymion. One day as its completion nears, Kamijou and Index meet a Level 0 girl named Meigo Arisa. Index and Arisa have a mysterious connection in their ravenous appetites. While the three are enjoying their time after school, Stiyl (who has brought in some other magicians) suddenly attacks. His target is Arisa. Why is a member of the science side like her being targeted by the magic side? With the attack from the magic side underway, Academy City deploys a unit meant to maintain order led by its female leader Shutaura. As the situation developing around Kamijou, Index, and Arisa grows more and more confused, Stiyl says, “That girl could likely cause a war between the magic side and the science side.”

When science and magic cross paths, the story begins with Endymion as its stage!

The Academy City in the story appears to be similar in setting to Professor X’s Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters.

According to one of the descriptions I read about this movie, it is “…set in the shared universes of A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun…”.

A “Certain Scientific Railgun” – really?  I thought that was a translation error so went hunting for some more information about it.  I found this; “Part Girl.  Part Railgun.  All Awesome.  Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rock star in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko.”

“Delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move” – I love it!

For completeness’ sake, I found a description of A Certain Magical Index: The description for Season 1 of this series starts out as “Kamijo is a student in Academy City, where people use science to develop supernatural abilities. The guy’s got a lot of heart – luckily for a young nun named Index. She’s on the run from a sorcery society that covets the astonishing 103,000 volumes of magical knowledge stored in her memory…”.

There are several other descriptions of this movie and its basis around the web – one of them describes the Academy City as a place where people are trying to make magic with a scientific basis.  But as Sir Arthur C. Clarke once explained in his Third Law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Anyway, space elevators, magic & science, awesome art – what’s not like?  According to the movie’s description, it is subtitled in English, so maybe I’ll buy it as a Christmas present to myself.

The image thumbnails in this post all come from the The Miracle of Endymion movie.  There are several on the web – these were some of my favorites.  Clicking on any of them will display a full-size picture.

(Update – 09DEC14 – Chris Beveridge, who knows much more about manga, anime, etc. than I do, has written a review of this movie here – very useful if you want to know more about this).

Weekend Walkabout – Exploring the Solar System

In this Weekend Walkabout, we keep it simple but definitely not local.

But first a programming note: as many of you know, I recently updated this blog to the current version (4.0, now 4.0.1) of WordPress.  Since that time, I’ve been playing around with the features of this release and decided to turn on the “Subscriber” option, thinking that might be a good way to let people more easily follow my posts.  It turns out to be far more trouble than it’s worth (if it’s worth anything at all).  I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of “users” subscribe – but they turn out to be either not users at all (they don’t answer any confirming emails I’ve sent them) or users who are unhappy with this and who have emailed me to let me know they were now getting unsolicited emails.  There are some other issues I’ve found, but the long and short of it is that I have decided to turn this feature off and delete all of the email addresses that had been signed up as a Subscriber.  So, if you were adversely affected by this, I sincerely apologize…

And now to this weekend’s musings.  I have only one item for you, but it is MOST awesome.  This is a new short film by Erik Wernquist entitled WANDERERS.  It’s a paean to exploring the solar system and is accompanied by the voice of Carl Sagan.  The images in it all exist or could exist.  And yes, there is a space elevator in it (albeit on Mars) about 1 minute, 20 seconds into the video.

From the description:

Wanderers is a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.  Without any apparent story, other than what you may fill in by yourself, the idea with the film is primarily to show a glimpse of the fantastic and beautiful nature that surrounds us on our neighboring worlds – and above all, how it might appear to us if we were there.

It’s in HD with great sound, so go full-screen, crank up your speakers and enjoy.

The website also contains a Gallery of photo-realistic images, including several of the aforementioned Martian Space Elevator.  These are also high-resolution images and the following is now my Desktop Background:

Truly worth the visit – enjoy!

(30NOV2014 Update – Gizmodo has a most excellent review of the video here)

Space Elevator Competitions

This is cool…   Reader Chris Hibbert has pointed me to a Wikipedia page I didn’t know about, one summarizing the various Space Elevator competitions that have been held world-wide over the past several years.  Based on translations obtained via Chrome, he has updated much of the information on the Japanese competitions – thanks Chris!

This webpage shows competitions in the USA, Japan, Europe and Israel.  I am unaware of any other competitions which have been held – if I am in error, please email me and let me know.

I am in contact with the organizers of these various contests and will be checking with them to ensure that the data presented here is complete and correct (I think I see a few minor errors, but will want to double-check before correcting them myself or having the organizers correct them).


Hat Tip to Chris Hibbert – thanks Chris!


Each year, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) holds a Climber competition acronymed SPEC (SPace Elevator Challenge) and each year they get more and more ambitious in their goals.  This year they had a 1,200 m long tether held up by balloons.  Climbers are powered by batteries and scores are awarded based on speed, payload, etc.

I had blogged about this previously, but said that videos/pictures/results had not yet been posted.  Now they have.

This video of the competition is very well done.  About 6 minutes and 50 seconds in, there is the rather astonishing segment of 100kg of payload for one of the climbers and then subsequently watching that climber carry it part-way up the competition tether.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand Japanese, you’ll understand everything going on in the video.  It’s in HD, so if you have a big screen monitor, flip the video into full-screen mode, crank up your speakers and enjoy…

The results of the competition can be found here (it’s in Japanese – if that’s not something you can read, open the page up in Chrome and let it auto-translate for you).

Finally, you can see all of the results of the various Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) SPEC (JSETEC) competitions here (again in Japanese).

Something I had also mentioned in the previous post on SPEC2014 was the desire by the JSEA to turn this competition into an International one.  The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is now trying to recruit individuals to be on a committee to help organize the “American chapter” of this competition.  If you’re interested in participating (and, based on my participation in the Space Elevator Games, I can guarantee you an exciting learning experience if you do), please contact the President of ISEC, Dr. Peter Swan at

Weekend Walkabout – From India to Broadway…

In this Weekend Walkabout, we travel to India (learning about a Space Conference and why that’s important to fans of the space elevator) and then to Singapore (finding a “space elevator” at the Space Invention Camp) and then on to England (watching a cool video of a carbon nanotube ‘forest’) and finally winding up on Broadway (for a really short story with a space elevator in it).

First up is a Space conference being held early next year in India.  The second International Space Conference is being held on January 8th and 9th at Amity University in Noida, India.  While this conference will be focusing on “normal” space subjects (satellites, interplanetary missions, etc.), the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISESC) will also be represented there by Mr. Sourabh Kaushal.  Sourabh has presented at previous Space Elevator Conferences and was also a contestant in the now-defunct Artsutanov-Pearson competition.  He will have several ISEC publications (ISEC reports and CLIMB – the Space Elevator Journal) to hand out and talk about while he’s there.

I have written about India and the space elevator before, discussing my belief that they could be a real player whenever a space elevator becomes viable.  They have a real space program with many impressive achievements, a real military (necessary to defend a space elevator) and open sea lanes to two locations in the Indian ocean that the Edwards-Westling baseline book indicated as prime possibilities to locate a space elevator.  Add to this their national obsession with beating China in every way they can and I think they must be taken seriously when the materials finally become available to build a space elevator.

Recently I blogged about a study done several years ago extolling the virtues of the island nation of Singapore relating to building a space elevator.  I just found a video of a “space elevator” being part of, I believe, the Wonderswork Space Invention Camp being held in Singapore in November and December of this year.

You can see a Lego poster in the background of the video.  Young (ages 5 and up) children use these Legos and then advance to Lego Mindstorm kits to build various projects, including the ribbon climber shown in the video.  It’s nice to see kids as young as this exposed to these types of technologies.

Next up is a video of a carbon nanotube forest grown at the University of Cambridge in England.  Sadly, they talk about growing these nanotubes for “…their use in various electronic devices…” but Cambridge is also one of the leading research institutions in examining the materials/structural properties of carbon nanotubes (along with Rice University and the University of Cincinnati).

This would be a good time to mention a project I’ve just started and that is a materials review of carbon nanotubes, carbyne, graphene and boron-nitride nanotubes, the leading candidates at this time for becoming strong enough at the macro-level to build a space elevator.  In case you’ve ever wondered why these materials are the best candidates, you should enjoy my multi-part post on this subject that I’m planning.  It’s probably a couple of weeks away, but I’m enjoying putting it together.  Stay tuned!

Finally, we have a (very) short story with a space elevator as a part of it; Yes Way or Nuclear Bomb Called Desire.  I don’t know if Tennessee Williams would have approved, but he probably wouldn’t have minded, either.

The brevity of this story reminds me of the Urban Legend revealing the winner of a concise essay contest combining the elements of religion, sex and mystery.  The winner:

Good God, I’m pregnant!  I wonder who did it?

And with that, I bid you all a good week…

The Space Elevator Translation Project

Many years ago, I started a Translation Project for this site.  My idea was to find all of the translations for the English/American term “space elevator” and publish them here on this blog.

When the ISEC website was initially set up, I “loaned” them this project as they needed content.  Now, however, they have plenty and so I have reclaimed this project for this blog.  You will find the current content of this project on one of the menu tabs near the top of the blog.

I haven’t had new updates in some time – come on everyone – if you know the way to say “space elevator” (or “space lift” or whatever term would be appropriate in your language), please let me know so I can add to this list.

Extra credit for translations into Vulcan, Klingon and Romulan…

Thank you!

A new reference site…

Over the years, I have come across several sites around the web which host questions and answers regarding the space elevator.  Many of these appear to be essentially fact-free and not worth the time visiting.

I have found an exception, however, and that is the Space Exploration site of the StackExchange network.  According to Wikipedia, StackExchange is “… a network of question and answer websites on diverse topics in many different fields, each site covering a specific topic, where questions, answers, and users are subject to a reputation award process. The sites are modeled after Stack Overflow, a forum for computer programming questions that was the original site in this network. The reputation system is designed to allow the sites to be self-moderating.

I haven’t looked at all the categories of the site (there are a lot of them) but the Q&A discourse for the questions tagged “Space Elevator” at the Space Exploration site seems to be more well-thought-out than at other such sites.  If you visit this site, I think you’ll agree…

I currently have three sites listed in my DISCUSSION / NETWORKING GROUPS sidebar category, but am removing all three of them and replacing them with the StackExchange site.  The Liftport forums seem to be no more and there hasn’t been a posting in over a year on either the Twitter or the Yahoo Groups forums.

There is an active, ongoing discussion of the space elevator at LinkedIn, but you need to be a member to partake (I’ll add it to the sidebar category too).  If anyone is aware of other good space elevator Q&A sites/forums, please let me know so I can add it to this blog’s sidebar.

The first 40 kilometers…

The baseline design for an earth-based space elevator calls for a tether that is 100,000 km long.  Just 40 kilometers (four one-hundredths of a percent (.0004)) of that length is within the commonly defined boundaries of the earth’s atmosphere.  And yet this tiny fraction of length is “home” to many special problems which must be dealt with; wind, storms, lightning, ice, etc.

A new study has been released on Astra Astronautica entitled Design Concepts for the First 40 KM a Key Step for the space Elevator discussing these exact issues.  From the reports abstract:

 The Marine Node for the Space Elevator Infrastructure is the base for all activities to load and unload the cargo and climbers. As the basic design of the space elevator power system is solar power only, the first 40 km is hazardous to operations and demands enclosed packaging of fragile tether climbers. A significant question is: how do we place a full-up tether climber, driven by solar power, above the atmosphere? Two approaches, starting at the Marine Node, allow the tether climber to initiate the climb with solar energy above the atmosphere. The third viable approach is to provide a platform at altitude for initiation of tether climb. These approaches would enable solar power to be the source of energy for climbing. The three approaches are:

Option One and Two: Marine Node (MN) Starting Location.

MN – Box Protection – use boxes to protect the fragile solar panel and power the climber directly with a power extension cord to climb out of the atmosphere.

MN – Spring Forward – use the characteristics of the elastic factor of the tether material.

Option Three: High Stage One—develop a platform at altitude.

Dangers for the space elevator during the first 40 km in altitude are discussed, and the options to deploy the tether climber and its solar arrays from the ocean surface to the desired altitude are explained.

The study is very well done and well worth the time for anyone who is at least casually interested in the idea of a space elevator.  The problems discussed are certainly real and were first discussed at length in the Edwards-Westling book, The Space Elevator: A Revolutionary Earth-to-Space Transportation System.

The idea of “Spring Forward” was inspired by this:

By the way, the Acta Astronautica’s study authors were Dr. John Knapman and Dr. Peter Swan.  Dr. Knapman is an ISEC Board Member and the head of the ISEC Research Committee.  Dr. Swan is also an ISEC Board Member and the president of ISEC.

(The awesome image of Church Bell ringers is from here)

Meteorites and the Space Elevator

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a new NASA video showing the relative locations and orbits of the space debris they are tracking.  The assumption here is (and I think it’s correct) is that all this space debris is man-made.  Anything natural approaching from the cosmos is either going to hit the atmosphere or just speed on by as it is traveling much too fast to be captured by earth’s gravity.

And there IS stuff that comes by earth from ‘out beyond’ and it happens more often than you might think.  NASA has just released a map of all small meteorites (from 1 meter to 20 meters in diameter) that have impacted the earth’s atmosphere from 1994 through 2013 – a period of 20 years (once again I am indebted to the most excellent SpaceRef newsletter for this story).  In that 20 year period, NASA traced 556 meteorites of this size impacting the earth’s atmosphere, about one every 13 days.  I think that’s much more frequent than most people imagine.

Any one of these meteorites would be capable of damaging or destroying a space elevator and, like space debris, will have to be carefully watched and tracked.  But unlike space debris, where you have areas along the length of the space elevator with much higher (and lower) probabilities of impacts, meteorites like these could literally hit the space elevator anywhere along it’s length.

A Space Elevator Operations Center will have tracking objects like these as one of its primary responsibilities.

And what do you do if you find one that has a finite chance of hitting your space elevator?  Your only option, really, is to move the tether out of the way.  In their baseline-setting book, Edwards and Westling proposed having a movable earth station for the tether in order to avoid severe earth weather and also to be able to induce oscillations in the tether.  The theory is that if you can make the tether “zig” or “zag” when the space object whizzes by, you can avoid it.

While I agree with the principle, I would respectfully disagree with the method.  Why make the tether oscillate over its entire length in order to move a very small portion of it out of the way?  There are going to be multiple climbers on the tether at any one time.  If you give them a method of propulsion (ion engines would be perfect for this), the one(s) closest to the potential point of impact can induce the oscillation (and other climbers can thrust in the opposite direction to dampen out the oscillations once the object is past).  Also, they’ll be able to react faster – you may not have time to have a wave propagate 75,000 kilometers or more to get the job done.

I think a really cool 3D animation would be to show a section of the tether with climbers moving up and down, carrying cargo, examining and repairing the tether as needed and inducing  and removing oscillations as necessary.  My animation skills are not up to this – any takers?

89 miles from the Equator

89 miles, that’s how far the capital of Singapore is from the equator, the latitude where ‘conventional wisdom’ says a Space Elevator should be built.  Not very far at all.  And this is one of the main reasons why a 2006 study by Dr. Paul T Mitchell, then a Visiting Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University concluded that Singapore would be a very good location for a Space Elevator.

He summarized why he believed this to be so;

“A space elevator would exploit both Singapore’s proclivity for high technology as well as its only natural resources — human ingenuity and geographical location. While there are many speculative reasons for the construction of such a system, the absence of energy resources would form Singapore’s primary interest in a space elevator: unlimited and cheap power from enormous space based solar arrays.”

And he itemized his reasons for locating it in Singapore;

  1. Energy (solar power satellites – no, I’m not a fan of this idea)
  2. One of the few terrestrial locations near the equator that enjoys political stability
  3. Excellent logistical connections
  4. A strong economy
  5. A highly educated population

He does not mention one of the reasons why ‘conventional wisdom’ (I really like using that term when referring to a Space Elevator) says that one should NOT locate a space elevator in such a location as that because of ease of access for terrorists.  Unfortunately, I think this is a very real concern.  A space elevator (like an airplane) is very susceptible to nut-jobs with explosives and physical isolation will be, IMHO, one of the major ways that such risks can be minimized.

Dr. Mitchell’s study is also available for download.

I mention this 8-year old study in today’s blog post because of this, an item mentioned at the end of Appaji Reddem’s article in The Hindu where he states that ‘according to [unnamed] sources’, an “…elevator to space…still is under the active consideration of the government” of Singapore.

I’ve posted a comment on the story asking about the “sources” for this information – their doesn’t seem to be any other way to contact the author.

It would be very nice if it were true but they’re going to have to deal with the materials problem, just like everyone else…

Weekend Walkabout – Do you want to design a Rocket Ship?

According to Wikipedia, a “Walkabout” is “…a rite of passage during which male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months“.  But a Walkabout is also, according to the Urban Dictionary, “…a spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing in an effort to satisfy one’s itchy feet“.  We all have the urge to explore new territory and, while this is THE Space Elevator Blog, I have occasionally posted items which are not strictly space-elevator related.  They were, IMHO, something which might be of interest to you or maybe just something I wanted to opine about (it’s a FEATURE not a BUG 🙂 )…  These posts have been varied, ranging from How I Installed DSL for My Mother to Blaming NASA for Selfies.  In the future, I’m going to make these types of postings the “Weekend Walkabout” feature of this blog, leaving the weekday postings to ‘strictly’ space elevator related items.  These Weekend Walkabout postings might be related to space exploration or anything else, but I’ll try and keep the Politics to a minimum.

I’ve set up a new Blogroll category; “Weekend Walkabout” and will label all future such postings with it and will also, as time permits, perhaps revisit older postings which fall in this category (posted on a weekend or not) and label them as such…

And without further ado, our first Weekend Walkabout…

Conventional wisdom (if I can use that term while referring to a Space Elevator) says that, once we have a Space Elevator, we won’t need Rocket ships anymore.  Not so.  We (the human race) will need even MORE rocket ships once a space elevator is built.  There will be a much greater need to send people and cargo to really interesting places like the Moon, Mars, the Asteroid belt, etc. and that will still require rocket ships.

So, if you are a fan of space elevators, don’t think of Rocket ships as “obsolete” or “evil” – they have their place, it’s just not where they need to use 95% of their weight (the propellant) to get stuff out of earth’s gravity well…

And that brings me to this; the National Space Society (NSS), an affiliate of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) has launched a project called “Enterprise in Space“, a multi-year effort to “…design, build, fly, and eventually return to Earth an orbiter containing student experiments.  This project will be a tribute to the many great visionaries of science and science fiction.  It will demonstrate and pioneer new technologies while inspiring and encouraging space enterprise.  It will promote the development of educational curricula and activities contributing to related future endeavors in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM).  This project engages and inspires the next generation – all ages and walks of life – by igniting a renewed interest in space exploration and development.

The NSS Press Release gives this information about the project from the project’s manager, Jim Plaxco:

“My first tip is to do it. Not only are there some great prizes for the contest winner but the winner will have a place in the history of private/personal space exploration.

My second tip is that you don’t have to be a master of 3D or CAD software. I’ll remind you that such software is a very recent invention. It’s the design that counts and that can be illustrated using nothing more complex than paper, pencil, and ruler.

Third is to follow the rules. An important rule is to not design a spacecraft that looks like a spacecraft that is associated with a spacecraft from TV or film. It must be your own original design.

Fourth is to be mindful that the spacecraft you design will be housing somewhere around one hundred student experiments. That means avoiding a design that minimizes internal volume. Once manufactured, your orbiter will physically have as its maximum dimensions 8 feet by 8 feet by 6 feet so be mindful of the factors 8 x 8 x 6 in designing your craft.

So now is the time to either fire up your favorite graphics software or grab your drafting supplies and get to designing a spacecraft that is truly unique. The submission deadline is fast approaching so don’t delay. But first make sure you fully understand the contest by reading the Enterprise In Space Design Contest Rules.”

Designing a rocket ship?  This sounds Über-cool.  The deadline to get your design in is December 7th – not very far away…

Oh, and why did I use that particular picture thumbnail (which I obtained from here) in this post?  Check out the Enterprise in Space website to find out…

Summaries from Space Elevator Conference workshops now posted

Mini-Workshops were held at both the 2013 and 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conferences.  These Workshops, conducted by a subject expert, delved more deeply into individual topics relating to the Space Elevator.  Summaries of many of these Workshops are now available here on the ISEC Website.  You can find them under the “Activities” tab on the Main Menu.

Summaries of all three of the Mini-Workshops held at the 2013 Conference are available as well as a summary for one of the 2014 Conference workshops.  Two additional Workshops were held at the 2014 Conference and summaries for those will be posted over the next couple of months.

These workshops are very useful exercises and also a lot of fun to participate in.  They have proven to be a very successful part of the Conference and will be, I’m sure, included in future conferences.

2015 ISEC Space Elevator Conference announced!

ISEC has announced the 2015 ISEC SPACE ELEVATOR CONFERENCE!  This event will be held at Seattle’s Museum of Flight from August 21st through the 23rd, 2015.

This will be the fourth year in a row that ISEC has held its conference at this venue.  It’s an incredible place to visit – the facilities are outstanding and the exhibits have to be seen to be believed.  Truly, the Museum is a must-see place.

A very preliminary program outline has been posted on the Conference website.  It’s not too soon to begin planning to attend (or to present at!) the conference.

Be there or be square!

IAC2015 will have a Space Elevator Track

The 2015 International Astronautical Congress will be held next October in Israel and it has a space elevator track, D4.3.:

D4.3. Technology Assessment and Space Elevators Components

The recently completed IAA study, “Space Elevators – Feasibility and Next Steps” looked at engineering, operational, and funding steps towards an operational capability. This session will evaluate the current and near-term potential of the necessary technologies. They will be evaluated with respect to the NASA TRL’s and identify risks associated. In addition, the session can accept the analysis of other issues leveraging this remarkable transportation capability of routine, inexpensive and safe access to our solar system.

Peter Swan
SouthWest Analytic Network — United States
Robert E Penny
Cholla Space Systems — United States

Akira Tsuchida
Earth-Track Corporation — Japan

At this year’s (2014) IAC Conference in Montreal, there was also a space elevator track, with several people who have long been involved in the space elevator effort attending and presenting.  This gives me a good excuse to post a picture sent to me by one of the attendees at that conference, Stephen Cohen.  Stephen presented a paper on Tether Dynamics/Oscillations at a space elevator conference several years ago and has stayed involved in the effort since then.  He is also the Technical Editor for Volume 3 of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal.

Left to right are Professors Arun Misra, Stephen Cohen and Hironori Fujii, all experts in tether dynamics.  Incidentally, Stephen is the author of the Engineer’s Pulse.  If you check out the latest post in his blog, you will see a Halloween costume that only a Physics geek would dream up 🙂

(Click on the picture thumbnail to see a full size version)

The Space Elevator Blog and Social Media

I started this blog in April of 2006.  At that time, blogging was still fairly new and pretty much state-of-the-art in terms of private individuals being able to opine about a topic on the Internet.

But time marches on and blogging has now taken a “side-seat” (I won’t say “back-seat”) to the various Social Media outlets that are now ubiquitous; Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.  I’ve been somewhat oblivious to this in terms of this blog, preferring to “stay pure”, but I’ve been nudged to add options to this site to allow people to share my posts on various social media outlets.

So, you will now find buttons at the bottom of each post allowing you to Share them with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Reddit accounts and also giving you an easy way to email (gasp, how outdated!) the link of a specific post.

I probably should have done this long ago, but I confess I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to Social Media.  But it really is possible to (occasionally) teach an old dog new tricks and I’m happy to oblige.

So, go ahead and Share away – and if there is a social media outlet connection that you would like me to add to this blog or if you are having an issue with the connection links I’ve provided, please send me an email and let me know.

Geez, a new theme this year and now connection to social media – what’s next?


For the past several months, Wikistrat has been working on building forecasts for the private space industry.  One of their scenarios has been projecting how a space elevator might come about.  In the opening words from their report:

In February 2014, Wikistrat ran an internal simulation led by Bruce Wald, former director of the U.S. Navy’s space research program, in which 75 analysts (including veterans of the sector) were asked to forecast the shape of the private space industry in the second half of the 21st  century. Over 30 scenarios were generated, ranging from very conservative to optimistic projections – such as this one, which examines possible future efforts to construct a space elevator. It was written by this simulation’s supervisor Yoni Dayan, with insights from experts such as Dr. Brad Edwards and Jerome Pearson, as well as Dr. Peter Swan and Ted Semon from the ISEC.

The scenario paints the picture of the Europeans being the first to build a Space Elevator after the necessary material (“Astralyne”) is invented.  It puts the ground station in French Guiana, just a few hundred miles north of the equator (and already home to the rocket base at Kourou), discusses the major business drivers and, in general, gives a very realistic scenario of how we could see something like this play out in the future.  I just hope I’m around to see it 🙂

I’ve been privileged to work with the author, Yoni Dayan, as he prepared this report (along with such luminaries as Dr. Brad Edwards, Jerome Pearson and Dr. Peter Swan – they’re the real experts) and it’s been a lot of fun.  There have certainly been some differences of opinions along the way, but one of the real positives of this final report is its plausibility – there is nothing in there that you can look at and say “No way”…

The final report has just been released, so read and enjoy…

If you want to connect with Yoni Dayan, to perhaps ask him questions about the scenario or for any other comments you might have on the report, you can find him on LinkedIn.

Wikistrat is an organization that “…is the world’s first Massively Multiplayer Online Consultancy (MMOC). It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a patent pending crowdsourcing methodology to provide insights unavailable anywhere else. This online network offers a uniquely powerful and unprecedented strategic consulting service: the internet’s only central intelligence exchange for strategic analysis and forecasting. These ideas and insights are delivered, for the first time, on a real-time, interactive platform.

The answer is “No”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has a podcast series they describe as:

Quirky, entertaining and informative, Science Update is a daily, 60-second feature covering the latest discoveries in science, technology and medicine. Produced by AAAS, the world’s largest general science society, Science Update has reported on thousands of scientific and medical breakthroughs—and won dozens of national awards—since its inception in 1988. Science Update even answers listeners’ science questions, phoned in to our toll-free answer line, 1-800-WHY-ISIT (1-800-949-4748), or submitted via our online form on our Contact page. For more in-depth science news, you can also listen to our weekly Science Update Podcast.

I’ve never listened to the podcast before, but an episode released today made me sit up and take notice.  A listener asked if it was possible “…to build an elevator up to the International Space Station (ISS)“.  According to the podcast’s producer, Bob Hirshon, “NASA…says it’s actually something NASA’s investigating in the form of mechanized compartments that climb a cable into space“.  The subject expert Mr. Hirshon was interviewing from NASA was clearly talking about something else (at least I hope she was), making climbers that could crawl up “cable structures“.  He ends the program by saying “So some day sending spare parts up to a space station could be simply a matter of pressing the up button.”  For a space station located along a space elevator, I would agree.  But the listener asked about building an elevator to the ISS.  And the answer to that is no.  No, no, no, no, no…

The ISS orbits the earth at about 4.8 miles per second.  You’re going to build an elevator that somehow attaches to that, or maybe you can “throw” something to the ISS as it whizzes by?  I don’t think so.  And it gets even more amusing.  Imagine an elevator somehow being built “down” from the ISS to the earth.  The bottom end would be traveling greater than Mach 21, assuming it’s at the height of the earth’s surface 🙂

Even sending something to the ISS from a true space elevator is not easy.  The ISS orbits approximately 205 miles above the earth.  At that height, a point on the space elevator would be traveling .3 miles/second.  So, if you had an item at that height and wanted to send it to the ISS (traveling at 4.8 miles/second), you’d need rockets to accelerate it into the proper direction at an additional 4.5 miles/second and then there’s all that rendezvous trickiness you have to deal with…

So dear listener, what AAAS should have told you is that, while it may be possible to build an elevator to space when the right material becomes available, it will not be possible to build an elevator to the ISS.

Space Elevator disasters are SO photogenic…

Another picture of a potential space elevator disaster has shown up.

Admittedly, this picture of something (meteor, space debris, whatever) striking the space elevator is pretty cool but the ever increasing accuracy of tracking larger sized pieces of space debris should make this a pretty unlikely scenario…

I found the picture here, from a site called 70sSci-FiArt and I think the artist is someone titled “Manchu”…


Dr. John Knapman joins the ISEC Board of Directors

At the recent ISEC Space Elevator Conference, Dr. John Knapman agreed to join the Board of Directors of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC).  Dr. Knapman is the Director of the ISEC Research Committee and has made a presentation at the last couple of Space Elevator Conferences.  His depth and breadth of knowledge are a very welcome addition to the Board.  Some notes from his bio read:

After retiring from IBM, Dr Knapman has worked on a variation of the Lofstrom Loop called the Space Cable. He then adapted this idea to form the bottom part of the space elevator, following a suggestion by Dr. Peter Swan. This is called High Stage One. He is a contributor and co-editor to the recent IAA study and has published several journal papers. He is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Recently, he became director of research for ISEC. His first degree was in mathematics and his Ph.D. was in Artificial Intelligence.

So he has a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence?  I’m glad I’ve been nice to him; hopefully he’ll put in a good word for me when our robot overlords take over…

October ISEC eNewsletter released

The October issue of the ISEC eNewsletter has just been released to the ISEC email list.  Lots of interesting articles in this edition including a summary of one of the mini-workshops from the 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conference and a call for help with space elevator simulation tools.

You can access the eNewsletter here.

And you can sign up for the email list, of course, if you want to be among the first “in the know” with all the goings on at ISEC.