Space Elevator: September 2006

Over at (SpaceRef's primary online news competition), Leonard David, a good writer and guy, has an article up today about the upcoming Space Elevator competition titled Space Elevator: Hoist to the Heavens. Here's an excerpt.

"Admittedly, at least for now, the idea of a beanstalk-like space elevator connecting Earth and space is a stretch.

But next month’s X Prize Cup will host the Space Elevator Games, an unprecedented challenge for today’s engineers looking at ways to alter the future of access to space.

No matter how you look at it—from the top down or bottom up—building a full-scale space elevator is an uphill battle. But at least physics is in your favor."

Well the official list of teams that will definitely be participating in this years Space Elevator Games at the X Prize Cup have been released by the Spaceward Foundation. Among the teams highlighted in the Spaceward press release are:

MClimber: The sole US university entry comes from the University of Michigan. The MClimber is part of the Student Space Systems Fabrication Laboratory (S3FL) from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The team members are all students at the University of Michigan, almost all in Aerospace Engineering or Electrical Engineering. "The space elevator has great potential and could have very important impacts in our society." wrote Julie Bellerose, the team captain. "We want to contribute to its development. At the same time, we think the Elevator:2010 competition is a great opportunity to learn and apply engineering knowledge to a real-world project."

The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatchewan, Canada is coming back this year for a second try at the prize purse. They have started the U of S Space Design Team, also known as USST, which was founded "to give students with an interest in space the opportunity to apply their engineering and physics knowledge to real-world design problems relevant to the space industry. Such a team will allow students not only to foster their individual interest in space but also to enrich their university education experience." There are over 20 students in the USST and they hope to grow larger with more publicity.

The New Scientist has an article today on LiftPort's recent 60 day test of their 100 meter long tether and it's potential application as a wifi transmitter in the sky. This is an interesting concept and usage for tether's, but hardly useful for a Space Elevator which will be located in the middle of the ocean. However as an early spinoff technology it could be useful in fundraising.

Balloon-borne platforms developed as precursors to space elevators could be used as high-altitude relay stations for wireless communications, a 60-day field test suggests.

The company also tested their climbing robot on this tether, even though it was not crucial to finding out whether the balloons would work as a Wi-Fi station. The robot will be necessary in the future for delivering new helium tanks to balloons at higher altitudes.

Our vision is for this website to be a keystone for the organization of the greater Space Elevator effort which is spread throughout the world. The journey of 100,000 km up the ribbon begins with just one step and now is the time be in action. Many of us have waiting for "something" to happen. Others have been working to make things happen with limited success. More and more it is clear to me that the fundamental reason to build the Space Elevator is to open up the high frontier so that the human race can use space to solve problems here on Earth. That vision is one that many individuals of varied backgrounds and motivations can align with and which will call them into action. So become involved and together we will make history!

For the new few weeks I'll be blogging from Toronto. Today I came accross a notice from Punkworks about their open house here in this weekend. I don't think I can make it but if you're in TO why not check them out.

"You are invited to an open house at the Punkworks headquarters, the Moshpit, on Saturday, September 30. We will be exhibiting Jack, our entry into the Space Elevator Games this October 20-21 at the X-Prize Cup. The location is 100 Hymus in Scarborough (Warden and Eglinton).

Directions by car: DVP to Eglinton and go east on Eglinton. Turn right onto Warden (south) and past two lights. Just before the train tracks, turn left onto Hymus until you reach 100. The unit we're in is a corner unit with a side door entrance.

Directions by transit: get onto Bloor/Danforth line east (towards Kennedy). Go all the way to Warden and get off. The 68 bus will take you north on Warden to Hymus. If you get tired of waiting for a bus, then I can come pick you up from the station.

You can reach me by cellphone at 647-892-6477 should you have any questions. Support our team!

Allen Atamer"

The space elevator burst onto the scene a few short years ago and has gained a lot of attention. The media and our community have distributed vast amounts of information but not all of it is correct. This has created misconceptions of the concept and may damage the long-term viability of the program. Working with Marc and Bryan I hope that we can make Space Elevator Reference the source of accurate, objective information on the space elevator as well as a resource for those who want to learn more or directly be involved in the effort. We hope to place valuable, vetted information on this site and commentary on articles and information that appears elsewhere as well as your feedback. If you as an interested reader have questions on the elevator we hope you will come here for the answer. We also hope that as a resource we will be able to post major technical papers, review papers and aid in forming collaborations. To make this work we will need your help. We welcome comments and leads on breaking information and want to work with the community to make this the primary source for all things related to the space elevator. - Brad Edwards

I've modified commenting making it easier for everyone to post comments. The site is moderated so it may take a little time before your comments are live. I really do want to foster discussion but in doing so have to deal with those darn spam bots.

I found this over at

MIT researchers have identified a class of chemical molecules that preserve the metallic properties of carbon nanotubes and their near-perfect ability to conduct electricity with little resistance.

Using these molecules as handles could overcome fabrication problems and lend the nanotubes new properties for a host of potential applications as detectors, sensors or components in novel optoelectronics.

I found this press release today which mentions the Space Elevator. It's for a software company called Emcien who are sponsoring a team for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition. The competition as you'll read below is focusing on nanotechnology this year.

What I find interesting is that the non-profit running the competition was founded by Dean Kamen. Dean Kamen is wealthy entrepreneur and inventor who founded the DEKA Research & Development Corporation. His inventions include a mobile dialysis system, an all-terrain electric wheelchair called iBOT and of course the Segway. I wonder if he would be willing to allocate some of his resources to the developing some of the core Space Elevator technologies??

"This year’s challenge is based on Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is a new scientific frontier that will impact many facets of society, such as medicine, computers, and the environment. The nano world is 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of a single strand of hair. At the nano level, everything jumps and shakes – even solid things like tabletops. For the competition the robots compete on tasks that include individual atom manipulation, self-assembly, powering a molecular motor and operating a space elevator."

I am very pleased to announce that the Space Elevator Reference has added two new distinguished editors, Dr. Bradley Edwards and Dr. Bryan Laubscher. Both are pioneers and visionaries and will offer their technical expertise and insight to our readers.

In the coming months you can expect to see many improvements to this reference site.

Marc Boucher
Editor, The Space Elevator Reference

Express lift to the stars, CNN International

"It's a very credible idea; there is nothing wrong with the physics of it. If enough funding is found, it's possible we could see a space elevator in about 20 years," Robert Cassanova, director of NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts told CNN."

"Space elevator expert Dr Bradley Edwards of the Spaceward Foundation is a pioneer in space elevator design. He believes that the current and ongoing developments in carbon nanotube technology holds the key to the project."

"Commercial development and private funding is crucial to the future of space exploration. The space elevator would make space accessible for so many more people, so we believe the funding will come once the benefits are realised. Once we've proved the technology works, we firmly believe that the project will open up space for generations to come."

Another promo for the upcoming Space Elevator games.

"Together, NASA, Spaceward, and X PRIZE are looking to jumpstart safe and efficient space exploration using prizes for private research; much like the Orteig Prize which was won by none other than Charles Lindbergh in his Spirit of St. Louis. The competitions have a total purse of $400,000 sponsored by NASA's Centennial Challenges program, quadrupling the amount of prize money of last year's event. Two prizes will be awarded to teams who can build the strongest tether, and the fastest moving vertical robot. Over twenty teams from different universities and research groups will be competing for a piece of space travel history."

Space Exploration 2007 Conference
The Space Engineering and Science Institute has issued a call for papers for the Second International Conference and Exposition on Science, Engineering and Habitation in Space and the Second Biennial Space Elevator Workshop.

Abstracts are due September 15th. Of note I just received my copy of the proceedings from the last conference and it makes for a great reference book. This is a conference I recommend for anyone who wants to participate in making a Space Elevator a reality.

The conference is between March 25-28th in Albuquerque, New Mexico.