Sunday, September 09, 2007

Space Show on Space Elevator Games

As I posted a couple weeks ago, the Space Show had a program on the Space Elevator Games. The interview was with Ben Shelef. Well, I finally got a chance to listen to the program. The interview covered all sorts of topics on the Space Elevator Games and Space Elevators in general. I'll just post a few brief items, in my words, from the show; the interviews are quite detailed, so you'll need to listen if you want more.

Ben considers the tether to possibly be even more important than power beaming for the space elevator concept. However, the beam power event might be funner for most audience members to watch, and it seems to excite more independent teams. The tether teams tend to be from industry or university engineering labs.

The games will be held at a location that's just 10 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, so it will be easy for travellers to get there.

I'll post my version of some of the questions, many from listeners, that I found especially interesting, and also summarize Ben's answers:

Q: Will the Space Elevator Games be webcammed?

A: Yes, and they plan to start the pictures a couple days before the games start.

Q: Have they given passes to the local politicians to go to the Space Elevator Games? There's a certain amount of aerospace awareness in Utah with ATK, Smallsat Conference, and universities. In other words, there's already an interest in aerospace.

A: Yes, the politicians have shown interest. Ben expects them to show up, and hopes to form relationships with them to support the concept.

Q: Why aren't the Space Elevator Games being held at the X PRIZE Cup this year? That would make it a lot easier for fans to see both events. Now, with both events physically far apart, and 1 week apart, it will be very difficult.

A: They tried to work this out this year. The Space Elevator cranes are getting taller because of the more difficult challenge height this year. The X PRIZE Cup will be held at an air base with aircraft flying around. There are height restrictions at the base, so they couldn't hold the games there.

Here at Space Prizes, I sympathise with the caller, because it will be much more difficult for me to see both events, too. I have a few thoughts for next year's games. It would be nice to have the Space Elevator Games in association with the X PRIZE Cup both the draw a bigger audience and press, and to make it easier for travellers. Together, if sustained for several years in the same area, they might even be enough to win a Congressional supporter or 2 in NM for increasing Centennial Challenges funding so the Lunar Lander Challenge and Space Elevator Games continue longer, or if the problems are deemed to be solved, new Challenges in these areas could be funded.

The Space Elevator Games wouldn't have to be held exactly at the same time or location as the X PRIZE Cup. For example, the Space Elevator Games could be held in Alamogordo (maybe not on the base ... maybe with the New Mexico Museum of Space History?), or in a nearby city (Las Cruces, El Paso, or even Albuquerque). The X PRIZE Cup is on Saturday-Sunday, and the Personal Spaceflight Symposium is on Wednesday-Thursday, so maybe the Space Elevator Games could be held independently on Friday (which is the X PRIZE Cup education/media day; I think it's more for local students than travellers), or perhaps Thursday-Friday. Another option would be the previous weekend; for travellers willing to go Wednesday-Sunday for the X PRIZE Cup and associated conference, adding the previous weekend might work.

There might be other considerations that make the above options less attractive. However, I still like the idea of combining the Space Elevator Games with other space events. It may be at the wrong time of the year, but it might make sense to have them before or after the 2008 Space Elevator Conference in Seattle. If Utah is a good home for the games, maybe choosing a time that can blend into the smallsat conference in Logan, Utah would work. I could also see the Space Elevator Games working well (except for the timing) with other Centennial Challenges.

Just some thoughts ... I'm sure there are a lot of other factors that go into these types of decisions. I'll either be there anyway, or else checking out those webcams!