Elevator 2010 – Let the Games Begin

October 23, 2005


Today is the day. NASA is hosting the Elevator 2010 competition. Structured like the Ansari X Challenge, NASA is offering a cash prize for the winners of two different competitions. In the first challenge, contestants will build/demo robotic crawlers (lifters) that must climb a 104-foot wire. Entries currently include beam-pwered robots that convert photo-electric energy into kinetic energy as well as mini-aircraft designs. The second challenge is to build a super-strong tether capable of being strung from the Earth’s surface to a point somewhere miles above the Earth.

The entire dream of a space elevator has been in the minds of scientists and futurist for a very long time. In 1979, Arthur C. Clarke won a Hugo award for his prescient work The Fountains of Paradise. In that novel, Clarke envisioned a twenty-second century scientist constructing a space elevator that reached from Sri Lanka to a geostationary orbit some 36,000 kilometers above the Earth. With the advent of carbon nanotubes, the dream may arrive sooner than Clarke predicted in his novel. Let the games begin.




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