Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NASA Space Elevator Games Announcement

RLV News posts on a NASA press release on the upcoming Space Elevator Games. There's some interesting content in the comments section, too, emphasizing that the competitions aren't just about the futuristic Space Elevator; they're also about improving technologies with many near-term practical uses in space and here on Earth. As the NASA press release says:

"The innovations from these competitions will help support advances in aerospace materials and structures, new approaches to robotic and human planetary surface operations, and even futuristic concepts," said Ken Davidian, program manager for NASA's Centennial Challenges, Headquarters, Washington."


"The Beam Power Challenge promotes the development of new power distribution technologies that can be applied to space exploration. ... Technologies demonstrated in this competition could have applications for future planetary surface operation with robots or humans."


"The purpose of the Tether Challenge is to develop very strong, lightweight material. Super-strong tethers could enable advances in aerospace capability, including rocket weight reduction, habitable space structures, solar sails, or tether-based propulsion systems."

This is the key to achieving many difficult space concepts like the Space Elevator - get there in small steps that are achievable because they address some near-term need (eg: a current run-of-the-mill business need).