Thursday, November 5, 2009

LaserMotive Wins Space Elevator Competition

Speaking of contests, another interesting competition was held that I hadn't actually heard about until recently.

The Spaceward Foundation, for the past few years, has organized space elevator competitions inspired by the X-Prize for the past few years. The Space Elevator Competition actually has two different contests: one for tether strength, and one for climber speed and capabilities.

It is the climber contest we're interested in here. There have never been any winners until now, yet the competition has become more difficult every year. In order to win this year, a competitor must demonstrate a device that climbs a nearly kilometer-long tether hung by a helicopter at a speed of at least two meters per second using wireless power provided from the ground. A difficult feat to be sure!

Yet this year, we have a winner. LaserMotive successfully demonstrated this feat using a climber attached to a solar panel that collected energy from a ground laser. LaserMotive is primarily a company interested in developing remote power capabilities rather than doing space-oriented activities, but that is certainly one of the pieces of the puzzle needed to create a successful space elevator.

Trip to Space
Progress: 6.47%  Flight Time: 0:09:42
Solar Array
Progress: 6.47%  Power: 65W

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