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by Peter Rasmussen

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Space Elevator This Year

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on September 9, 2007

Spaceward Foundation News Bulletin

Newsletter #3 – September 08, 2007

Hello Folks!

6 weeks to go, and the excitement is mounting!

In this newsletter:

Announcements: EuroSpaceward, The Space Show, Hotels, Light Racers
Venue pictures and sneak preview
2007 Team Profiles
Volunteer positions

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Announcements:

For those of you new to this newsletter, previous letters are archived at www.spaceward.org/press.html#newsLetters, including the power-beaming technology overview from newsletter #2. This will help you keep up with some of the comments in the team preview below.

Fans of Dr. David Livingstone’s Space Show as well as Space Elevator enthusiasts can find our 90 minute SE special conversation with the good doctor here. We talk about the coming games, the Space Elevator, Light Racers, and a little bit about the Space program and Space politics.

A quick reminder on behalf of the European Spaceward Foundation – Registration for the 2007 Climber Workshop in Luxemburg is open – read all about it at www.eurospaceward.org.

Team registration for Light Racers: Welcome to our new team from Farmington. If you’re considering participating in the Great Light Racer Championship, please sign up to the Light Racer mailing list, since we’ll use this list to announce special offers (Solar Panels!) rule updates, practice times, etc. Take a couple of minutes and read through the pages available at www.lightRacers.org. A new picture-by-picture guide to building a Light Racer is available too.

And finally, as if you’ve forgotten, the 2007 Spaceward Games – October 19-21 2007: Be there or be square! For details, tickets, special hotel rates, go to www.spaceward.org. A new hotel rate is now available at the Hilton Garden Inn in Layton (In addition to the Holiday Inn Express next door.) The discounted prices expire about 3 weeks before the games, or if they sell the entire block – so get your tickets now!
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Venue Sneak Preview:

(Since some email readers do not show images by default, I used links instead of embedded images – just click the image name to view it)

I just recently returned from another scouting week in lovely Salt Lake City. Things are coming along great, and I thought I’d share some of the pictures and some of my thoughts with you.

The first image is probably familiar to you already, a Google aerial shot showing the general layout of the grounds. The signature square concrete path will be the epicenter of activity – this is where the climbers will launch from.

The second image is of the launch pad location, taken from where the crane will be located. This year’s crane has an “elbow” type boom, and so will be almost 100′ away from the ribbon, which in my mind makes for a much prettier setup. Still, at almost 400′ tall, even 100′ doesn’t seem like much…

From the launch pad, you can follow the concrete pathway through the lawn to “climber row” – the hanger where the teams are parked when they are not on the pad. Serving as a real life Space Elevator museum, climber row features the climbers hanging from the roof beams at eye level, so you’ll be able to walk up close, talk to the teams, and get a first hand look at what makes them (both the climbers and the teams) tick.

The concrete paths are great for moving the team entries around, and the square pattern allows us to de-stage one team while the other one sets up – No traffic interference. This event center seems to have been built for our games.

Right outside climber row stands this concrete pedestal, which will be transformed (by October 15) into an 8′ Earth hemisphere, complete with Space Elevator attached. This model will also feature the moon, and mars – all to scale!

There is much more that I haven’t snapped pictures of: The question Maze, the A/V facilities where we will screen unique Space Elevator movies, the Light Racer arena, the media center (more on this in the next newsletter)

I will be headed back to SLC in a couple of weeks, and will make sure to have more show and tell for the next newsletter.
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The rest of this email is dedicated to an overview of our teams – both the veterans and the newcomers. I recommend that you check out their web sites… You’ll find that the teams are about as diverse a set as we could have hoped for – universities and hobbyists, 4 countries – some are prolific bloggers, some are more secretive. One thing’s for sure: On October 19, all their secrets will be revealed.

So here we go, alternating between veteran and newcomers. You’ll notice that not all 22 teams are here. As was the case last year, some teams are not able to complete their climber in time. Since we’re nice people, we allow them to roll over their entry to next year, and so we hope to see them compete yet in 2008.

USST – the University of Saskatchewan. (www.ussa.ca).
USST was last year’s best performing team, having come in only two seconds too slow to claim the prize money. This year is a brand new game of course, so while they are natural favorites, they are by no means a hands-down sure bet. Last year, USST was the only team to attempt an Infra-Red power beam, and they are planning to pursue the same idea again this year – only with a much more powerful system in mind. They are ambitious, and are definitely a team to watch. Clayton Ruszkowski is the leader.
Lasermotive (www.lasermotive.com).
This new entry from Seattle is led by Laser expert Jordin Kare, also working with an Infra-Red based system. The Infra-Red systems are closest to what is currently planned for the real Space Elevator – we explained a little bit about the power systems in the previous newsletter. Definitely one of the favorites.
The Kansas City Space Pirates (www.kcspacepirates).
The Pirates were by far the most original design last year, and also one of the more powerful ones, pioneering the use of a Solar light collector and what Brian Turner termed “Helio-Beaming”. Look for another original design this year!
E-T-C (www.earth-track-controllers.com).
ETC is our first ever Japanese team! ETC is one of the teams that have chosen to use a commercial off-the-shelf white light beam. Led by Akira Tsuchida.
MIT (mitset.mit.edu).
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology doesn’t join competitions in order to come in second. That’s right – If you’re not first, you’re last! MIT is one of our new entries, and we’re expecting them to uphold the school’s reputation. MIT’s system is based on a Microwave beam, and they have been working on their entry for more than a year, so expect to see sparks fly!
Team Tesla (www.warr.de/projekte.php?projekt=space_elevator).
Last year the German team was one of the more robust designs, so if that’s any indication, we’re looking forward to see Team Tesla’s entry. They are pursuing a MW based system, and from their web site they will certainly have this year’s best looking climber! Team leader is Joachim Sturm.
The Technology Tycoons. (www.goingupteam.com).
Known last year as “Lite Won”, this high-school team is another one of the teams using redirected Solar light. Last year’s direct-solar climber performed quite well, and so they have the potential to pull a fast one (get it?) over the grown-up teams. Team leader is Larry Grattan.
McGill University (space-elevator.mcgill.ca).
Another member of the Canadian invasion, McGill is also pursuing a Microwave power beam. Lead by Cyrus Foster.
Snowstar (www.snowstar.ca).
The team from the University of British Columbia is one of our two-year veterans, having fielded entries in both the 2005 and 2006 games. They’re back this year with an all-new Solar based design. Led by Damir Hot, this team is one of the better sponsored teams in the line-up.
Starlifters
A new team this year, featuring a solar design. Led by Donald Longerbeam.
Centaurus Aerospace.
A private team from Logan, Utah, Centaurus is our second two-year veteran. Last year Centaurus we already attempting a Microwave based design, and so they have an extra year’s worth of MW experience under their belts.
Andromeda Connection (www.anconn.com).
A new team this year, featuring a solar design. Led by Mike Harvey
University of Michigan MClimber (www.mclimber.org).
A veteran group, University of Michigan’s MClimber was the first of the climbers to reach the top of the track last year. Lead by Brian Baca, this team is using a white light beam, similar to that of ETC.

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Next on our agenda is the “help wanted” section

We’re looking for a few good men and women to act as guides – this event will draw on the larger SLC area population, and a lot of people coming to the games will never have heard about the Space Elevator before. (Gasp!) Do you know your Space Elevator basics? Can you explain them well?  We’ve got a “Guide” badge waiting for you!

If you feel you’re up for it, please browse to http://www.spaceward.org/help-wanted.html and register, so we can keep you informed. Please also email help-wanted@spaceward.org with a description of what you want to do at the competition.
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We look forward to seeing you at the games!

   The Spaceward Crew

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The Spaceward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit dedicated to furthering Space exploration in educational curriculums and the public mindshare – http://www.spaceward.org.
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Posted in Ideas, Science | Leave a Comment »

Space Elevator

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.

Learn more:

Posted in Ideas, Science | 2 Comments »

A Star in a Bottle

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 11, 2007

Fusion

Scientists are doing real physical experiments to investigate fusion and anti matter propulsion alternatives to conventional rockets.

http://science.nasa.gov/NEWHOME/headlines/prop12apr99_1.htm

Posted in Ideas, Sci-fi, Science | 1 Comment »

An Artificial Brain One Cell At a Time

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 8, 2007

BlueBrain

The Blue Brain project is the first comprehensive attempt to reverse-engineer the mammalian brain

IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputer is being used to create a biologically accurate, functional model of the brain.

The Blue Brain project
http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/

Posted in Ideas, Sci-fi, Science | 1 Comment »

Phoenix

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 7, 2007

Phoenix

The picture says it all.

And Emily Lakdawalla says a bit more
http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00001068/

Posted in Science | Leave a Comment »

Machinima Distribution Tactic

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 7, 2007

Robocup
We have been offering the Stolen Life DVD as prizes in robot contests around the world like robot soccer and robot Sumo. There are even some dance contests. And of course search and rescue.

I’m really enjoying the responses from the robotics groups. They are very much use to the idea of robots as heroes.

Posted in Film, Machinima, Sci-fi, Science, Stolen Life, video games | Leave a Comment »

And The Cash Cow Jumped Over The Moon

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 5, 2007

Bigalow

I originally went looking for an article on inflatable habitats in space. It sounds like a holiday in a beach ball. They use the stuff bulletproof vests are made out of. Inflated in space it’s stronger and safer than steal.

I found Bigelow Aerospace. Bigelow is a very successful entrepreneur applying his highly refined business skills to overcome the practical hurdles to put profitable business into orbit.
http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/multiverse/index.php

Posted in Ideas, Science | Leave a Comment »

Human Think, Robot Do

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 4, 2007

robot_shadow.jpeg

Honda is developing a way to manipulate a robot by thought alone. The system uses MRI technology so a robot can mimic human movement through thought. You could have your own chorus line of androids. Or just a really cool way to play rock, paper, scissors

Mind reading robots
http://web-japan.org/trends/science/sci060711.html

Posted in Ideas, Sci-fi, Science | 4 Comments »

Robot seduction

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on August 2, 2007

Will artificial intelligence in a robotic vacuum cleaner one day have the persuasive power to trick us into handing over the car keys and enough cash for a wild weekend?

There is a new publication that’s got it all, money, power, intrigue and sex for robots. Scientists are attempting to write a set of ethical guidelines for the scientific community to follow in the area of robotics. Good Luck.

Robot ethics
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article675984.ece

Posted in Film, Ideas, Sci-fi, Science | Leave a Comment »

Cheerleaders and Robots

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on July 25, 2007

Christi Jacobs, a Purdue graduate and former captain of the Prudue cheerleading squad, has set up a summer camp for high school cheerleaders. They’ll work with small humanoid robots. Each robot gets a cheerleading outfit and is programmed by the girls to do a routine. The girls and the robot will perform the routine together.

More info at:
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2007a/070529JacobsCamp.html

Posted in Ideas, Science | Leave a Comment »