Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 16, 2007
It’s Jack and the Beanstalk on photons. Spaceward’s vertical race is on again.
The Spaceward Foundation runs an annual contest in the fashion of the “X” prize. They are attempting to drag the science fiction concept of a cable car to Earth orbit into the real world of practical science.
Nanotubes now make it theoretically possible to make a tether strong and light enough to reach from the Earth’s surface to geostationary orbit.
The contests consist of two main types. The first pits rival nanotubes, two at a time in a tug of war to find the strongest.
The second is a one at a time race of prototype elevators up a few hundred meters of vertical ribbon.
They don’t have an extension cord long enough to reach orbit so they are throwing the power up at the rising elevator. They are using Infra-Red, microwaves, White light, whatever is handy.