Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

LaserMotive Finds Success In Space Elevator Competition

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the i'll-still-take-the-stairs-for-now dept.

Space 258

Bucc5062 writes "LaserMotive has achieved the first step towards the creation of a working space elevator by qualifying for the $900,000 prize in a contest sponsored by NASA. To achieve this first level, LaserMotive needed to propel a platform up a cable dangling from a helicopter at over 2 m/s. They hit a top speed of 4.13 m/s. The next level of qualification will be to achieve a climb speed greater then 5 m/s. LaserMotive beamed roughly 400 watts of laser power to a moving target at a distance of 1 kilometer, as part of the vertical laser alignment procedure. The target was a retro-reflective board a little larger than 1 meter on a side. The contest will continue for another two days with at least two other teams challenging for the prize. To win the Power Beaming competition, the LaserMotive system uses a high-power laser array to shine ultra-intense infrared light onto high-efficiency solar cells, converting the light into electric power which then drives a motor. 'Our system will track the vehicle as it climbs, compensating for motion due to wind and other changes. Building on our experience from last year’s competition, we are designing an improved system able to capture the full $2,000,000 prize.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Professor Myrabo at RPI (5, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29994958)

Leik Myrabo at RPI has been working on this stuff for years. In his words, if we can hit an enemy ICBM travelling at many times the speed of sound with a laser, surely we can keep one focused on a friendly target with a known/desired trajectory. These projects will NOT become accidental Death Stars. Given the absurdly high percentage that fuel makes up of a vehicles launch weight, anything you can do to power the craft externally gives you huge savings.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995082)

I was thinking about the test and the first thing that came to mind is: ok they're beaming up radiation of some sort, probably more-or-less straight up, (since basing the power at the same spot the platform is tethered makes sense) and they're suspending it from a helicopter.... which would place the platform approximately directly between the beam generator and the heli...

so isn't this going to be a little bad for the heli / its crew?

The only way I see to avoid this would be to beam up the energy from somewhere other than at the anchor point. And that would have to substantially increase the difficulty of targeting the platform, since the distance between platform and beam source will increased if you move the beam source away from the anchor.

I suppose for actual "space elevator" applications the same thing will apply, only you'll be irradiating the floating counterweight or whatnot, and the destination.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (3, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995282)

Well, they're basing the tests on a helicopter, so the beam is relatively small. So for the test, they could easily beam the power from somewhere other than the anchor point. Having the beam come from a different direction wouldn't invalidate the important concept of "can beam power from ground to power the platform".

Not to mention, this test is based on a laser capable of delivering 400 watts of power to the target using infrared. Your average aluminum helicopter skin isn't going to vaporize under those conditions. Heck, I doubt you'd even scorch the paint.

In the "real world" use of this, the suspension unit is going to be much further away and specifically designed with protective shielding. In fact, the endpoint might have solar panels pointed back to Earth so any "stray" IR could be caught and used at the station - though it's far more likely they'd have a solar panel up there, too, and beam IR down to the elevator once it reaches a certain point and the beam from Earth starts dissipating too much.

Re: a laser capable of delivering 400 watts (3, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996004)

Surgeon General's Warning:
Don't look down with remaining eye.

Re: a laser capable of delivering 400 watts (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996096)

True, if I were the helicopter pilot I'd want to be wearing some good sunglasses just in case. ;)

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

bjomape (1534745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996204)

400W focused in one small point - that's about the power you'd get from focusing direct sunlight using a magnifying glass with a diameter of 0.7m (2 ft). Not even scorch the paint? I'd like to see that.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996346)

It all depends on the area that the power is focused upon. For example, the 400 W is focused on a target a meter across. In comparison, sunlight is about 2.5 times as intense. Sure if the power were instead focused on a 1 centimeter target, it'd be melting steel. But it's not.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (2, Interesting)

AGMW (594303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996212)

... I suppose for actual "space elevator" applications the same thing will apply, only you'll be irradiating the floating counterweight or whatnot, and the destination.

Why not cover that side of the counterweight in the solar panels as well, and scoop up as much power as you can for use on the station ... Perhaps even send some back down by having a power laser pointed down to fire energy at the top of the climber for when it gets nearer the top ...

Is there also an issue of having more than one climber on the cable at any one time - surely that means you'd want to be firing the power laser at a suitable angle anyway, to power a specific cable car.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995116)

There is a difference of course: If we can stop 50% of ICBMs, that may already make the investment worth it. For an elevator that sort of reliability might not be enough...

Are we serious? (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995188)

The key word that's part of ICBM is "ballistic", from the Greek ballein, I throw. It's travelling through extremely thin gas, and its trajectory is therefore practically simple Newtonian dynamics. Its position from moment to moment should be extremely predictable. Now consider an object attached to a rope in the atmosphere. It's subject to constantly changing wind forces in three dimensions. Even when it's out of the atmosphere, the beam is subject to deviation caused by atmospheric effects, which is why stars twinkle and big telescopes need clever adaptive control systems. Its path is many times less predictable. In a nutshell, it's the difference between catching a lofted cricket ball or baseball, and catching a fly. It is not an object with a "known/desired" trajectory.

The problem is, I'm sure, soluble, but the technical difficulty should not be underestimated.

Re:Are we serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995254)

Well, the adaptive optics problem that you talk about with big telescopes was originally solved to allow lasers to shoot through the atmosphere. It was a "Star Wars" technology adapted to telescopes, not the other way around, so that is a non-issue (relatively speaking, of course).

Re:Are we serious? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995404)

The problem is, I'm sure, soluble

Soluble, sure, but only in aqua fortis.

Or did you mean solvable?

Re:Are we serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995522)

Wow, a couple letters misplaced, and you actually have so little shame as to admit that you are not smart enough to know what was meant. Sad really. Perhaps some english classes would help you?

You really have no place being on a technology site, where a certain level of smart is assumed.

Re:Are we serious? (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996514)

A certain level of smart-assery is also assumed. You have the assery down, but you need to work on the smart.

Re:Are we serious? (5, Funny)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995624)

Soluble, sure, but only in aqua fortis.

Or did you mean solvable?

Well Archimedes did say, "Give me a powerful enough solvent, and a large enough bathtub, and I'll dissolve the Earth."

Next time, check the dictionary before posting. (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995990)

If you care to investigate you will find that (according to Merriam-Webster among others) soluble has both meanings. If you knew any Latin - and you obviously don't, despite referring to nitric acid as aqua fortis - you would know that u and v in Latin are interchangeable, and that soluble and solvable are from exactly the same root. While I'm exposing your linguistic inadequacies, I should perhaps explain further that the Latin root means to "loosen", and so is applicable both to loosening the bonds of a solid in a liquid, and loosening a "knotty" problem.

Re:Next time, check the dictionary before posting. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29996302)

how about "loosening" your tight ass

"In a nutshell, (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995432)

it's the difference between catching a lofted cricket ball or baseball, and catching a fly."

to complete your allegory in terms of childhood classic movies, the solution to the problem is less bad news bears and more karate kid

Re:Are we serious? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995702)

> In a nutshell, it's the difference between catching a lofted cricket ball or
> baseball, and catching a fly.

Some of these people have already built laser systems that can shoot a fly out of the air.

Re:Are we serious? (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996190)

The key word that's part of ICBM is "ballistic", from the Greek ballein, I throw. It's travelling through extremely thin gas, and its trajectory is therefore practically simple Newtonian dynamics. Its position from moment to moment should be extremely predictable.

In theory, yes. In practice, it's going to depend on how accurately you can measure its position and velocity at any given moment. The missile is moving very rapidly relative to the target size it presents, so small errors in measuring its position will result in larger errors in the extrapolated arc and could easily result in a miss. Also, since Star Wars none of the anti-ICBM techniques have focused on the peak of its trajectory where it is a purely Newtonian ballistic projectile. They either target the lift phase where it is most decidedly not ballistic, or the descent phase where air resistance cannot be ignored. The ones who designed and programmed the missile can't predict its trajectory to within one missile-width, so why assume it's easy for the defender to figure this out? It's not an easy problem at all, which is why the Missile Defense Shield has met with only limited (read: assisted) success.

Even worse would be to assume that technology is limited by the Latin roots of words used to describe it. "Ballistic" already applies to only a portion of the flight, and as Russia was quite keen to point out during the height of the MDS push their missiles have descent phase countermeasures like, um, dodging.

So think of it more like hitting an unconscious fly that is traveling as fast as a fastball, could at any moment wake up and start flapping, and you aren't trying to catch it in a glove, you're trying to spear it with a toothpick before it gets too close.

Solvable? Oh sure probably for any given iteration of the enemy's missile. Obviously easier than hitting a relatively slow-moving target that wants to be hit and thus can be broadcasting its position (like the test missiles did in the descent-phase anti-missile tests)? Yeah I'm not so sure about that.

The problem is, I'm sure, soluble, but the technical difficulty should not be underestimated.

No, its certainly not an easy task. I just think hitting a missile that doesn't want to be hit is comparable if not harder to achieve (because while the missile will be modified to make it harder to hit, the elevator will be modified to make it easier).

Re:Are we serious? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996278)

The key word that's part of ICBM is "ballistic", from the Greek ballein, I throw. It's travelling through extremely thin gas, and its trajectory is therefore practically simple Newtonian dynamics. Its position from moment to moment should be extremely predictable. Now consider an object attached to a rope in the atmosphere. It's subject to constantly changing wind forces in three dimensions. Even when it's out of the atmosphere, the beam is subject to deviation caused by atmospheric effects, which is why stars twinkle and big telescopes need clever adaptive control systems. Its path is many times less predictable. In a nutshell, it's the difference between catching a lofted cricket ball or baseball, and catching a fly. It is not an object with a "known/desired" trajectory.

You have it exactly backwards. The professor was right. The object attached to the rope is predictable because you'll know exactly where it is all the time (say via GPS stuck right on the vehicle, some tracking signal, or other means) plus it's not moving very fast. The ICBM will be fired by someone who doesn't want you to hit it and they'll have plenty of tricks to keep you from doing so. They won't tell you where they are. The missile will be traveling at hypersonic speeds. They'll bring decoys. They'll fire retro rockets so that the trajectory is constantly shifting in a non-ballistic fashion. And they'll harden the missile so that more energy (and more time on target) is required to kill the missile. And they might fire hundreds of missiles with several warheads each in order that some get through.

Re:Are we serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29996300)

"ballistic", from the Greek ballein, I throw

ballein is the infinitive. ballw = I throw

Re:Are we serious? (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996462)

The key word that's part of ICBM is "ballistic", from the Greek ballein, I throw. It's travelling through extremely thin gas, and its trajectory is therefore practically simple Newtonian dynamics. Its position from moment to moment should be extremely predictable.

That's why penetration aids [wikipedia.org] were invented. Sure, it's easy to hit something, but picking out which of the 20-30 ballistic targets is the actual warhead that's trying to blow you away is hard.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995194)

Can't they attach a parabolic mirror the the elevator and use the sun for power.

They could get more than 400W from a mirror, easy...

They could but there is a problem, (4, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995316)

The sun is effectively at infinity, so the reflection from the parabolic mirror will come to a focus at some distance from the mirror and thereafter diverge. This won't work. You would need, in fact, a large array of flat mirrors which were steerable so they all converged on the target, and continued to do so as it rose. This could be technically very difficult indeed. It makes a lot more sense to use electricity to power one laser which then only requires steering. You can generate the electricity with solar panels if you like.

(A C Clarke had a story in which large numbers of flat mirrors were used to vaporise a football referee. Obviously, everybody holding a mirror had to steer it. In reality, the target would have been so bright they would probably not have been able to aim effectively.)

Re:They could but there is a problem, (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995706)

Possibly. MythBusters did a test where they took relatively large but not ungainly array of flat mirrors and rigged them into a parabolic array, and set some dry wood on fire with it. I think it involved a few dozen small mirrors, but they were all pre-calibrated to aim at the same point.

Assuming bright sunlight approximately straight up in the sky (so everyone in the audience has access to some sunlight they can aim), Clarke's story might be considered "plausible" on the MythBusters scale. If you have 50,000 fans in the stadium all with 4-square-foot mirrors (2' x 2'), you'd only need a few hundred of them, maybe a thousand, to aim accurately in order to cause the ref some serious harm. Even if only 5% of your audience could guess at their aim with any level of accuracy, I think your ref would have a pretty tough time of it. Issue welding goggles with the mirrors, and it's probably barbecue time.

Hmm, I ought to send that one in. Seeing them try to scale this one up could be fun.

Re:They could but there is a problem, (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996698)

Hmm, I ought to send that one in. Seeing them try to scale this one up could be fun.

Poor Buster...

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995566)

400W is only the test unit, and probably had almost no payload. A mirror capable of generating 400W of focused light is probably going to be too heavy for the small test platform they were testing with.

The purpose of this was a scale test of a proposed much larger (and therefore useful) elevator box that could carry some payload, and that would need to be powered by a necessarily much larger ground-based laser.

If and when this ever reaches the point where they are talking about putting people or useful cargo onboard, the only thing I'm unclear on (because I don't have the time or the knowledge to do all the maths) is whether we'd be talking in megawatts or gigawatts. Probably megawatts.

It's probable that any mirror large enough to focus sunlight in useful quantities to raise a payload would be too large to be raised as part of that payload, regardless of scale. Even if it's possible, it cuts severely into theoretical payload. Leave the mirrors on the ground and you can use all that saved weight for payload.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995686)

They sell small solar panels that you can attach to the roof of your house which will produce 400W of juice.

The reason that it's not feasible for this project is that you need it to be able to work in all weather, and presumably at all times (5m/s is relatively quick, but it's still a long way up to space, which is the ultimate goal of this project). Also, when you start scaling it up to the power requirements for moving a significantly bigger payload into space, you start needing much more juice, and the weight requirements for the solar panels would be prohibitive. Developping ways to beam the energy from ground-based stations will allow you to focus more energy on smaller panels, reducing the weight requirement.

A parabolic mirror *would* allow the focusing of much light on a central point, but it would be a lot of extra weight and of limited use for generating electricity. When they're employed as part of a solar power array, usually it's to heat water for steam, or salt to store heat... If you're using that heated water to generate electricity, you add an awful lot of unneeded weight for limited improvement in efficiency: a flat panel that has the same cross-section area facing the sun would trap the same amount of light, and would weigh significantly less. When the amount of power you need to drive the thing is directly reliant on the amount of weight you need to move, a parabolic mirror becomes a bad idea.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995770)

> They could get more than 400W from a mirror, easy...

Even if it wasn't too heavy to lift itself such a system would require that the cable be much, much larger and therefor much, much, much more expensive. It makes much more sense to minimize the weight of the car and put as much of the big, heavy stuff on the ground as possible.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995450)

I too would love to see this work - though they are going to have to be moving a hell of a lot faster than 5 M/s (18 kM/h) for it to be anything like a practical solution.

Since there is no tangential velocity, unless the thing gets up to geo, there's going to have to be a big rocket to supply the additional deltav to reach orbit.
To reach geosynchronous orbit (about 36000 kM above sea level, I think) is going to take about 2000 hours, or 83 days.
I imagine you wouldn't want to take more than a week or so to climb a cable.

To make it to geosynchronous orbit in a week you would have to be moving at about 214 kM/h, or approximately 60 meters/second.

The only other option is to have a climber that can carry enough fuel up with it for a rocket to give the additional delta v needed for orbit.
Since I'm not a rocket scientist, I'll leave the calculation of how much fuel you'd need for that to someone else. Just how much additional velocity is needed if you make it say, half way up? Could you use a scramjet or something like that instead of a rocket since you would be in thin upper atmosphere with plenty of drop available to get the thing firing?

at any rate, I think we will probably have a viable ribbon or cable material before we have a viable climber.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29996084)

The angular momentum is stolen from Earth's rotation. You don't need extra rockets for it.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996804)

What's wrong with taking 83 days? How often do launches occur now? And couldn't many payloads climb in parallel?

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996814)

Since there is no tangential velocity, unless the thing gets up to geo, there's going to have to be a big rocket to supply the additional deltav to reach orbit.

That's correct. The space elevator design calls for the elevator to stretch from the surface, to a large space station in GEO, to a point the same distance the other side of GEO. That way you can get a big bunch of the velocity needed for an interplanetary trajectory simply by going to the outer end of the space elevator and letting go!

And you're also quite right in saying that 5 m/s is too slow for human transit to GEO, but it's probably good enough for cargo payloads. One of the biggest problems, though, is that the elevator would travel through the van Allen belts, and you don't want to spend long there or the radiation will destroy your electronics.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995460)

"In his words, if we can hit an enemy ICBM travelling at many times the speed of sound with a laser, surely we can keep one focused on a friendly target with a known/desired trajectory"

But we haven't demonstrated that we can hit an enemy ICBM with a laser, so what's the point?

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995726)

But we haven't demonstrated that we can hit an enemy ICBM with a laser, so what's the point?

Is the focus on the word on enemy? Hitting an ICBM with a laser is possible.

The challenges:

A. Of course, we aren't testing with 'enemy' ICBMS. At that point I wouldn't call it 'testing'. I'd call it 'Oh shit I hope this works'

B. Keeping the laser on target with enough energy to damage the warhead (premature detonation, breaking it's heat shield, etc)

C. Getting the laser on the ICBM prior to separation of the warhead to damage the rocket portion.

Hitting a high velocity target with a laser is the challenge they were talking about, and that IS doable.

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995968)

"Hitting a high velocity target with a laser is the challenge they were talking about, and that IS doable."

So you say, but has it been done?

Re:Professor Myrabo at RPI (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996850)

I'm sure there must be a good answer to this, but why does a space elevator require laser power at all, instead of just running electricity up the "rope"?

Finally (2, Funny)

Shane112358 (1532293) | more than 4 years ago | (#29994972)

Ad Astra! Ad Luna! Ad Lagrange Point 2!

Good to hear. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29994994)

I hope to see a functional space elevator in my lifetime. This would help space travel immensely by taking making the issue of getting out of our atmosphere a relatively dull process it allows us to put more focus on ships that can be bigger and designed for long term space travel. Say to mars

Re:Good to hear. (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995240)

Maybe if we develop a longevity vaccine within your natural lifetime you will.

Re:Good to hear. (3, Insightful)

Ractive (679038) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995534)

A longevity vaccine would prevent longevity, there's no need to develop that one, you could use a gun against your head for that purpose, you mean an Aging vaccine.

Re:Good to hear. (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996080)

Who modded this down?!

Re:Good to hear. (4, Funny)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996592)

making the issue of getting out of our atmosphere a relatively dull process

...until someone creates space elevator music. Then it will become a dull, agonizing process.

Re:Good to hear. (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996730)

At 5m/s, that's a lot of Celine Dion < shudder >

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995014)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Re:Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995068)

How the fuck is this offtopic? Lets look at the facts.

1. We have a president
2. He is a nigger (aka Jigaboo)

Therefor it must be concluded that this is not offtopic, but spot-on.

Uh-oh (5, Funny)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995044)

What if someone farts in the space elevator? You'll be stuck for way more than a few floors.

Re:Uh-oh (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995236)

Don't worry, like Ridley Scott said: "In space no one can hear you fart".

Re:Uh-oh (3, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995304)

Small methane processing plant = more energy for the motors. Remember to load up on beans before you go onboard, and fit your flatulence intercept unit on your butt before you close up your spacesuit.

Re:Uh-oh (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996018)

Easy, just open a window!

Err... better hang on to something though.

shouldn't they be able to design the cable also? (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995150)

Congratulations to LaserMotive and I hope that they (or one of the other participants) quickly claim the remaining prizes.

Still, it occurred to me that the real system (capable of climbing to Geo-sync and beyond) won't be designed in a vacuum (ha ha). I mean, the cable on which these climbers ascend will be exquisitely engineered as well, probably down to the nano-level if it's going to work at all. So shouldn't the contest be that of a cable/climber combination? I mean like what if the cable or climber or both was using some nano patterned material like the underside of a gecko's foot (which lets them cling upside down to ceilings). Or maybe if there was some sort of nano (or not, I saw one made out of large metal bits) "velcro" like material in which case there would have to be hooks on one surface and clasps on another.

As long as the surface of the cable didn't add appreciably to the weight of the (supposed) carbon nanotube structure, it could add tremendously to the gripping power of the climber while still allowing for a practical cable.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995248)

Two different fields:
  climber: electrical/mechanical/controls engineering
  cabel: material scientist

Not many people are both.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (5, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995422)

Nobody is able to design the cable. We simply don't have the technology, which is why they're focusing on the climber instead.

This is a bit like having a contest to design a cool hat to be worn while using an anti-gravity belt. If someone wins the contest, then we are one step closer to being able to float while wearing a cool hat - all that's left is the bit with the belt.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (2, Informative)

mengel (13619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995590)

I thought these guys [aip.org] had it pegged?

Carbon nanotubes, with a tensile strength of up to 100 GPa, are the strongest material ever discovered [10]. To exploit this superior property for practical applications, individual carbon nanotubes have been assembled into macroscopic fibers [11,12]. However, these macrofibers show a very low tensile strength of less than 3.3 GPa [12 15]. This is mainly due to the clustering of nanotube ends, internanotube slippage and intrananotube defects. In contrast, the CCTs have demonstrated much improved mechanical properties compared to carbon nanotube fibers of similar sizes. Figure 4(a) shows the maximum tensile strength of 6:9 GPa of a CCT.
....
The CCTs synthesized here have a unique architecture with rectangular macropores across the tube walls and layered crystal structures in the solid walls. This unique architecture renders them a combination of superior prop- erties, including ultralight weight, extremely high strength, excellent ductility, and high conductivity. These unique architectural and physical properties give them great po- tentials for a variety of advanced applications. For ex- ample, the diameter and the length of CCTs are com- parable to those cotton fibers and the tenacity of the CCTs is 224 times that of cotton fibers. This suggests that conventional textile technologies can be used to make CCT fabrics that are much stronger than any current fabrics for applications such as body armors and light- weight, high strength composite structures. Other potential applications include making in situ self-healing composite structures, medical devices to deliver/release multiple drugs simultaneously, and microelectromechanic al sys- tems, to name only a few.

Of course, producing enough of the stuff and making the belt out of it is still non-trivial...

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995608)

This is a bit like having a contest to design a cool hat to be worn while using an anti-gravity belt. If someone wins the contest, then we are one step closer to being able to float while wearing a cool hat - all that's left is the bit with the belt.

Thank you. I just don't get the space elevator love on Slashdot.

I'm not impressed by a climb up a 1km strand of anything.

Build me a 1km suspension bridge with a mass limit of 100kg, and call me when someone's cute little robot can walk across it. Then I'll be impressed.

Space elevators are materials science problems, not robotics problems. The mass of the climber is negligible in comparison to the mass of the elevator. Stop dicking around with the robots and start building suspension bridges over college campus footpaths, using cables the width of a human hair.

Mod parent up. (3, Insightful)

thatseattleguy (897282) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995620)

Mod parent up- right on. The cable needs to be made of "baloneyium" (as someone famously opined about the composition of Niven's Ringworld). Its composition and engineering are way beyond our current capabilities - not so far that it's not worth pursuing, mind you, but this contest does seem to put the proverbial laser-powered cart before the carbon-nanotube horse.

Re:Mod parent up. (5, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995840)

Let's say that at our current progress it would take us 30 years to develop a way to manufacture the cable. Then let's assume that it will take 15 years to develop a machine capable of climbing that cable.

Since the two technologies are completely distinct from each other (i.e. the solution will come from different industries) Doesn't it make sense to develop them in parallel rather than wait for the cable to be developed and then have to wait an additional 15 years for the climber technology to mature?

I've certainly polished my shoes while waiting for the limo to arrive. If the limo didn't arrive, it would have made the shoe polishing pointless, but I wouldn't want to pay for a limo to wait while I got ready.

Re:Mod parent up. (2, Insightful)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995982)

I am going to go out a limb here and state that creating the cable is several orders of magnitudes harder than creating a machine to climb it. Maybe even an order of magnitude more orders of magnitude.

All these little contests do is try to generate support and interest in the space elevator concept. I don't think anything revolutionary will come out of them.

Its all about the cable.

Re:Mod parent up. (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996192)

Meh. Laser propulsion likely has other uses if we develop it to the point where it's useful for space elevators.

Re:Mod parent up. (2, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996492)

Actually, this company isn't developing propulsion. Propulsion is an electric motor. This company is demonstrating energy transmission. LaserMotive is even skeptical about the concept of a space elevator, but participated because they wanted prize money to fund further development of energy transmission for more, shall we say, earthly profitable pursuits.

Long before this could be used for an elevator (due to the lack of "baloneyum" as someone else put it), this technology will probably be perfected and in use for getting power to areas where cables aren't practical, and even under very controlled circumstances maybe even beaming power down from orbit or other interesting applications that have been talked about since the 60s or earlier.

Plus, frikkin' satellites, with frikkin' death ray laser beams!

Re:Mod parent up. (2, Informative)

gv250 (897841) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996628)

RTFA:

LaserMotive's two principals, Jordin Kare and Thomas Nugent, said they were relieved after two years of work. They said their real goal is to develop a business based on the idea of beaming power, not the futuristic idea of accessing space via an elevator climbing a cable.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996470)

All these little contests do is try to generate support and interest in the space elevator concept. I don't think anything revolutionary will come out of them.

Wake me when you come across a problem. All I'm hearing are advantages so far.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995750)

You mean of course designing a cool hat to be worn while using anti-gravity belt that could be invented when we understand and are able to control gravity.

I would really really REALLY like to know how they are going to deploy the fracking tether, won't we need a spaceship like the B.S. Galactica for that?

Please could anyone shed some light on this, ideas? So far no-one has even mentioned this.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (1)

mec_cool (757885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996272)

You mean of course designing a cool hat to be worn while using anti-gravity belt that could be invented when we understand and are able to control gravity.

I would really really REALLY like to know how they are going to deploy the fracking tether, won't we need a spaceship like the B.S. Galactica for that?

Please could anyone shed some light on this, ideas? So far no-one has even mentioned this.

I have an idea, assuming we're able to deploy a very thin cable attached to a satellite in geosync with a few thrusters capable of accelerating to maintain tension in the cable.
Then send a second spacecraft along with a few rolls of that same cable, attach both spacecraft and send down-climbing robots back to earth with the extra cables. Once they reach the floors attach the new cables somewhere near the first cable.
Repeat
Now you have a heavy mass orbiting the earth attached to a strong cable. I'm not sure but I think that if we want to haul anything up, the orbiting mass has go to be at least equal to the mass on the ground.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996158)

Nobody is able to design the cable. We simply don't have the technology, which is why they're focusing on the climber instead.

This is a bit like having a contest to design a cool hat to be worn while using an anti-gravity belt. If someone wins the contest, then we are one step closer to being able to float while wearing a cool hat - all that's left is the bit with the belt.

This is an inappropriate metaphor for two reasons. First, the crawler is an integral part of the system. It's not a "cool hat", but part of the belt. Second, it is something we can attain. We don't have the technology yet for an Earth to orbit system (though current technology is good enough for a lunar system), but we know enough that we can design the system even if we can't yet make the materials that we'd build the elevator out of.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (1)

bobbuck (675253) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996296)

Even if they could make the cable how are they going to dampen swings and bounces? In space there's no air to dampen the motion and there's no nowhere for the accumulating energy to go except to make the anchor bounce and sway more and more. The bad part is that the more it swings the higher the gravity will be. Does anyone remember riding the rotating sail-swing ride at the amusement park? It'd be like that but instead of your 150 lb best friend pulling on the cables it'll be ton of potential satellite trying to get up to orbital velocity. The good news is that the period of a 17000 mile pendulum might give you enough time to evacuate.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29996488)

Lets build a 100 km pyramid instead, there's plenty of room in sahara, and it seems someone already began over 4000 years ago so we've got a head start.

Re:shouldn't they be able to design the cable also (1)

MrTester (860336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995526)

If the contest is to develop combination cable/climber technology, the only entrants will be those who have the means (financial AND intellectual) to do both. They are two very different scientific skill sets. You would weed out a lot of teams who can bring great value to only one, or the other.

Keep them as seperate contests, running in parallel.

Helicopters in Space (4, Funny)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995562)

Now we've just got to get the helicopter to drop the rope from space, and we're set.

Carbon Nanotubes anyone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995652)

Thats the stuff that these cables will be made off

Realigning (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995676)

I wonder how fast this is at realigning the laser to aim at the elevator. You wouldn't want a gust of wind to push it a few feet to the side and have the laser give the helicopter cancer.

Re:Realigning (1)

ubercam (1025540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996760)

That would be terrible! Imagine having to get tumors removed from the rotors or putting the chemotherapy additives into the poor thing's fuel tank... Sure it would probably be able to fly for a bit, but it would probably crash and start puking up oil everywhere. Awful stuff.

Could the ribbon conduct electricity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995684)

I am not an engineer,so I have a stupid question. Why not use the ribbon as an electricity conduit? The electrical field might send the rover into the future?

Now if only.. (3, Funny)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995850)

..we had some great engineers to rush this projects. :)

Re:Now if only.. (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996894)

Eh, just convert all the hammer-producing cities to Wealth and then switch civics to Universal Suffrage. We'll be there in no time!

Quick Progress (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995876)

At the rate of this progress, the space elevator will be in place well before OBL is located. Well done.

Re:Quick Progress (1)

Benzido (959767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996504)

OBL is most likely dead. So you are most likely right.

Re:Quick Progress (1)

ubercam (1025540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996772)

Well at least it'll be finished before Duke Nukem Forever!

Is there a plan for equipment failure? (1)

PSaltyDS (467134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995890)

Is there an obvious plan for the crawler failing half way up the cable? In this test you just set it down with the chopper, but what do you do half way to geosync orbit?

I guess a second crawler has to go up underneath the failed one, trigger some kind of mechanical release and carry its dead weight down.

Re:Is there a plan for equipment failure? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996250)

> Is there an obvious plan for the crawler failing half way up the cable?

Yes. The passengers rappel down.

Re:Is there a plan for equipment failure? (1)

Dudibob (1556875) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996338)

half way between the Earth and the Moon!? ha I'm wondering what would happen if the cable somehow snapped when the elavator was in space?

Re:Is there a plan for equipment failure? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996664)

> half way between the Earth and the Moon!?

No. Only about a tenth of the way.

> I'm wondering what would happen if the cable somehow snapped when the
> elavator was in space?

It would either go up or down.

Re:Is there a plan for equipment failure? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996530)

You'd employ exactly the same technology you'd use to lower the empty elevator car normally. Probably turn the electric motor into a regenerative brake and beam the power back to Earth for storage to use on the next mission, or something.

Solar power eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29995958)

Outside of the fact that we can't effectively design the cable, how high would the cable be placed out in to space?

If it is out far enough, it could probably use the sun directly for power.

If not, how much power would be required to carry up your average weight to geosync and how reliable are long-term batteries?
How well do flywheels work in space?

Re:Solar power eh? (2, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996434)

Outside of the fact that we can't effectively design the cable, how high would the cable be placed out in to space?

The counterweight has to be beyond geostationary orbit. So at least 25k miles. Plus the whole assembly will be dragged along by the part connected to Earth so it's not going straight out to geostationary. I've heard something like 60k miles.

ALmost solved the (0, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995962)

least difficult problem. Now when all the magic technology rolls out we will be good to go!

Space elevator is this centuries flying car.

dumb questions (2, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#29995966)

These are probably really dumb, but what the heck..

This theoretical tether eventually...they can't run the power up from the ground inside the tether, or maybe down from the geosynch anchor point that has some huge solar power array? Why does the power have to be beamed to the traveling module? Ya, I realize it is a huge distance, but seeing as how they are considering some carbon nanotube structure for the tether, and carbon nanotubes (some) can transmit electricity very efficiently as well (1,000 times better than copper according to some wiki thing I just read)...

And with that said, to counteract that, how the heck are they going to avoid lightning and static electricity and so on on *any* tether? Won't this aspect imperil any construction and use of this for a space elevator, has this been theoretically solved yet, or is it even a problem? (yes, this is all googleable, I would rather get a clear short synopsis from folks who know about this better)

Re:dumb questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29996244)

I would rather get a clear short synopsis from folks who know about this better)

There are no dumb questions on inquisitive idiots.

So you are on slashdot so all you'll get is someone "summarizing" a wikipedia article(which was probably written by someone who googled and found a slashdot question)

Re:dumb questions (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996686)

People have proposed building merely tall (a few miles) towers to generate electricity. Given an elevator-sized structure, you'd think the static charge ought to be great enough to power the vehicle.

Re:dumb questions (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996810)

Even if there was enough "static" to supply power less than .04% of the elevator will be in the atmosphere.

Re:dumb questions (2, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996790)

Well, I'm not a scientist but several obvious ones come to mind.

For starters, you are going to have resistance greater than air through all but superconductive materials. Second, you're going to have trouble grounding it unless you have two cables, then you're going to need to keep the cables separated or shield them which means two discrete materials. Third, you'll have the issue of voltage surges through (as you've stated in your post) lightning strikes, static electricity, etc - very bad for electric motors.

Plus, they haven't sorted the cable part yet. The power problem is trivial compared to the cable, so the ideal here would be to free the cable designers of as many requirements as possible. "Strong enough to hold a crapload of miles of its own weight PLUS a payload and manage the various issues like wind, long-term exposure to UV/sunlight, rain, errant airliners, and vacuum long-term" is already a tall order beyond our technological limits by a pretty ridiculous margin at the moment. It's probably best not to limit the possible solutions to "also has to be a superconductor with separately superconducting ground line" if we can solve the power problem another way and just let the cable geniuses focus on the "supports its own weight, etc" problem.

Maybe someone will come up with a shielded carbon nanotube superconductor that also happens to be incredibly strong.

At that point, all this time spent on power transmission still has other applications anyway, so it's not really wasted.

Re:dumb questions (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996842)

Weather is hardly an issue when less that .04% of it will be in the atmosphere.

Human qualified? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996370)

So when this thing gets scaled up for carrying passengers, just how powerful a laser will it need.

Personally I'd be very wary of traveling in what's basically a lift (american: elevator) with a honkin' great laser firing at the capsule.

Re:Human qualified? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996562)

Compared to riding into space on a rocket? I'll take "giant laser" for 10,000,000,000, Alex.

What a waste of time (0, Troll)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996586)

A (practical) space elevator is NEVER, EVER going to be built. With any advances in technology.

Why is that? It's simple.

A space elevator, even if the cable could be made, has a ridiculous design flaw. Literally, a single failure anywhere in the cable, and there goes billions and billions worth of hardware. It is always teetering on the verge of catastrophic failure. (imagine what will happen to the station at the top of the cable)

Further, you can only launch one climber at a time, which has to slowly crawl to the top, taking hours to days.

There's a much better launch method, that has been around for years. Instead of building just enough laser to power a climber, why not build 1000 times as many lasers and beam up enough energy to get into orbit in about 10 minutes?

The spacecraft would just be an inert block of propellant and some stabilizing fins and gyros. The intense light would vaporize the propellant block in sections, and the pulses would be timed to give planar shockwaves. Presto, a high ISP engine with no nozzles or complex flight hardware needed. Laser modules stay on the ground, run on electricity. Could make another launch every 10 minutes or so. Look at the old laser launch usenet posts archived on google, where some NASA PhDs discuss the idea.

Huge Scales (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996706)

To give you some idea of the scales involved, even traveling at the targetted 5m/sec speed continuously, it would take the climber nearly 3 MONTHS to get to geosynchronous height of approx 35,000 km.

More info @ SpaceElevatorGames (1)

blamanj (253811) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996774)

Check out the web site for the space elevator competition [spaceelevatorgames.org] . It includes videos of climb attempts, and lots of data about what they're trying to accomplish and why.

Retarded (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29996896)

If we're going to be building a super crazy nano carbon magic tube elevator structure that can actually lift shit into space, then we sure as fuck can strap some copper wiring onto it to you know, deliver power.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?