Monday, November 05, 2007

Thoughts from E-T-C after Space Elevator Games

The Space Elevator Blog has a retrospective look at the games from climber competitor E-T-C. The post has some pictures of their team and entry. It also has a preliminary analysis of the troubles their entry had.

They also have some thoughts on improving the Space Elevator Games. One thought is to have multiple Games with a unified theme (the Space Elevator), but different technical goals that fit into the theme. The results from one Game could be input to the next. The Games could be held by different groups with different sponsors (eg: from U.S., Europe, and Japan). It's pretty tough to see the drawback of that idea, but it might be difficult to convince sponsors to fund it. It would certainly be useful, though, and there are a lot of reasons why a government, corporate, or non-profit sponsor might agree to do this.

They are also worried about the continuously increasing difficulty of the technical challenge in the Beam Power competition. I sympathize with this, too, but I also understand why Spaceward wants to keep raising the bar (in this case almost literally) to encourage improvements. A compromise might be to have some smaller value, but easier to win, incremental prizes. I've mentioned this idea in relation to the Lunar Lander Challenge, too (and the LLC already has 2 levels). This might be the sustanence that keeps some teams striving, and keeps public interest in the games when the main prizes aren't quite won. As usual, though, it's a matter of limited money available and priorities that have to be managed.