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Spaceward Foundation's First Annual Space Elevator Games are being
held in October and November at
NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California.
Please read below for details.
Imagine a vehicle climbing straight up a 200-ft vertical tether,
powered solely by a brilliant beam of light, viewed from a
safe distance by a large crowd of scientists, engineers, space
enthusiasts and students.
With $400,000 in prize money furnished by the NASA Centennial
Challenges program, it promises to be a seriously fun, scientific
contest, challenging teams from university and private industry to
build the best Space Elevator prototype. The Space Elevator
Competition is scheduled for October 21st through the 23rd at
NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View California.
Elevator:2010 is designed to address the "social engineering" of
Space Elevator. Taking our cue from the X-prize, solar car races,
various other competitive ventures, we use engineering
competitions as a tool to capture mindshare in academia, space
enthusiast community, and the general public.
Our flagship competition event, the climber competition challenges
university, enthusiasts and private industry teams to design and
the best possible Space Elevator climber prototype. We provide the
race track, in the form of a crane-suspended vertical ribbon (and
other support hardware), and the teams provide the climbers that
carry payload up that ribbon. The climbers are rated on the basis
of speed and amount of payload.
The climbers (unmanned, of course) will weigh 25-50 kg [50-100
lbs], and will ascend the ribbon at about 1 m/s. [3 feet per
second or 2.5 MPH]. The beam source is a 10 kWatt Xenon
search-light (80 cm beam diameter, about 25% efficient), which
should yield a climber power budget of about 500 watts.
The ribbon is roughly 10cm (4") wide by 2 mm thick, is about 50m
feet) long, and is tensioned to about 0.5 ton.
Building a climber is not an easy task. The designers have to
light weight structure, efficient photo-voltaic arrays, efficient
motors and power electronics, low-loss traction mechanism, thermal management,
and control systems.
We will be offering $50,000, $20,000 and $10,000 to the 3 best
that meet the minimum requirements.
The Space Elevator design will live or die on our ability to
materials that are sufficiently light and strong. The tether
is a perpetual dare for any group to present a tether at least 50%
better than last year's best offering. Tethers are ranked
strength and weight.
The single most difficult task in building the Space Elevator is
achieving the required tether strength-to-weight ratio -- in other
words, developing a material that is both strong enough and light
enough to support the 60,000 mile long tether. Compared to the
best commercially available tether, we need a material that is
almost 25 times better - about as great a leap as from wood to
About 10 years ago a very promising new material was discovered.
The material, the Carbon Nanotube (CNT), is only now becoming
available from laboratories in its raw form in sufficient
The task ahead is to weave these raw CNTs into a useful form - a
space worthy climbable ribbon.
In order to encourage CNT laboratories to pay more attention to
Space Elevator (CNTs hold tremendous potential in other fields as
well) we have posted an open dare to industry and academia:
We will award $50,000 each year to the team that can come up with
the best Space Elevator ribbon sample, provided that they can beat
last year's winning ribbon by at least 50%. The rules are simple.
The task is not.
Event details: Dates & times:
Friday, 21 October 2005, 6.00am-5:00p.m.
Saturday, 22 October, 8:00a.m.-6:00p.m.
Sunday, 23 October, 8:00a.m.-4:00p.m.
NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA
Attendance is limited. If you would like to attend the event,
contact the Spaceward Foundation at 650-969-2010 or
Also read the interview on
Space Elevators in the Space Business section.
The Space Elevator: A Revolutionary
Earth-to-Space Transportation System
Bradley C. Edwards, Eric A. Westling
of Future Space Transportation
Tim McElyea, David Brin
Any comments or suggestions on Space
Elevators page, click on
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Updated: Saturday 11th, January, 2014
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