Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Here's a small step for space elevatordom and a giant leap for laser power beaming optics (or something like that). At the Space Elevator Games 2009 in California, the LaserMotive team qualified today for a $900,000 prize. They did it with a small laser-powered machine that pulled itself almost one kilometer up a helicopter-suspended cable. The laser was on the ground and had to track the climber to lock the beam onto the bottom-facing solar panels to keep it powered and climbing at an average speed of 3.72 m/sec (5 m/sec would qualify for the $1.1 million prize).Congratulations to the LaserMotive team! Two other teams will be climbing tomorrow. This is the first time that anyone has qualified for a prize in the Space Elevator Games (last time the goal was 100 meters - a big jump to 900 meters this year). Check out this cool video to see what's involved with this technology challenge (prizes funded by NASA).

This is not quite a space elevator, but remember, a geosynchronous journey of 35,790 kilometers begins with the first half-mile or so.

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