The Space Elevator games just finished up today and it was quite an event. In this post I would like to summarize the games, both the results and the behind the scenes, what it implies and what we can expect in the future.
Pulling together an event of this scale takes a lot of work, time and effort. The Spaceward organization and all the volunteers that pulled this off should be thanked and congratulated – none were paid. The Space Elevator Games area at the X-Prize Cup consisted of a climber row, two large tents lined with the competing teams and their climbers, and a large competition area.
As stated in an earlier post there were a number of activities and some excitement in the climber competition. Well, on Friday, the first day of the event, the operations were worked out and by the time we got to yesterday things were running pretty smoothly though there was still an amazing amount left to accomplish. On Saturday, the climber teams jumped onto the ribbon one after another – nine times total during the day. We had a climber from the USST team race up the ribbon in 58 seconds, a spectacular job though just short of the 1 meter per second required speed (I will discuss this further in future posts since this was a complex decision). The USST team also had a slight issue with their braking system and they had to be lowered back down. This climber did more than any previous climber and was one step beyond the excellent performance of the Michigan team the day before who made it up in under six minutes. Both of these teams put together very mature and similar designs - the engineering on both were clearly the result of a design focused on minimizing weight and maximizing the power through the system. The USST team not only took their system from last year and greatly improved it but they also brought in a kilowatt laser that they had working briefly and almost ran on. This is the ultimate system in my mind and would have been impressive to see. This combination and USST’s demonstrated ability to learn and improve their system will make them a very serious competitor next year.
Saturday continued with the German team, the Litewon, and the Kansas City Space Pirates all ascending the ribbon in times from two to seven minutes. The German team was organized and obviously prepared with a climber that will perpetuate the stereotype of German engineering being some of the most refined. As a team they would hold cheers and run through checklists working in unison.