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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 the Space Elevator. Taking our cue from the X-prize, solar car races, and various other competitive ventures, we use engineering competitions as a tool to capture mindshare in academia, space enthusiast community, and the general public.

Climber Competition

Our flagship competition event, the climber competition challenges university, enthusiasts and private industry teams to design and build 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 (150 feet) long, and is tensioned to about 0.5 ton.

Building a climber is not an easy task. The designers have to juggle 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 teams that meet the minimum requirements.

Tether Competition

The Space Elevator design will live or die on our ability to produce materials that are sufficiently light and strong. The tether competition  is a perpetual dare for any group to present a tether at least 50% better than last year's best offering. Tethers are ranked according to 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 metal.

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 quantities.

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 the 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, please
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
by Bradley C. Edwards, Eric A. Westling

A Vision of Future Space Transportation by Tim McElyea, David Brin

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Copyright 2000-2014 Vic Stathopoulos. All rights reserved.

Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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