New Space and Tech

Application for 2011 Artsutanov and Pearson Prizes Now Open

By Marc Boucher
April 8, 2013
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The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is now accepting entries for the 2011 Artsutanov and Pearson Prizes. Two prizes will be awarded, $1,500 and $2,500 respectively for the best papers. The deadline for submission is June 30.
“The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) Board of Directors has announced their official theme for 2011, tether development, as a way to focus the Space Elevator on the most important problem facing the construction of a Space Elevator. Tether strength is the Achilles Heel of a Space Elevator due to the fact that no materials currently exist with a high enough strength to weight ratio to build the 100,000 km long tether which is central to the elevator.

In honor of Yuri Artsutanov, the Russian physicist who first thought of the idea of a Space Elevator, ISEC has adopted the measurement of Yuris1 when discussing the specific strength of tether materials. So how strong does the material have to be? The Space Elevator Feasibility Condition written by Ben Shelef of the Spaceward Foundation shows that a strength of approximately 30 MYuris would be required for a working Space Elevator. For reference, the specific strength of steel is about .5 MYuris. Though there are many high strength materials used around the world, ongoing research points to carbon nano-tubes (CNTs) as being the strongest candidates for success.

To encourage research in this field, the ISEC 2011 Artsutanov and Pearson prizes will both be awarded for the papers that advance the development of 30 MYuri tether. Papers will be judged by the level to which their ideas advance the field, research and data in support of conclusions are expected. The winners of each prize are awarded $1,500 and $2,500 respectively and the papers will be featured at the 2011 Space Elevator Conference.

The Pearson prize is open to undergraduate students while the Artsutanov prize is open to all2.

The deadline for submitting entries will be June 30, 2011. Specific contest rules and other information about the prizes can be found on the ISEC website (

1 A Yuri is equivalent to 1 Pascal per kilogram per cubic meter. A Mega Yuri (MYuri) is equivalent to the commonly used units of 1 Giga-Pascal per gram per cubic centimeter (1 GPa-g/cc) and to 1 Newton per Tex (N/Tex).

2 Officers and Directors of ISEC are not eligible.”

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