A picture of Blaise Gassend
Notes from Space Exploration 2005


As always going to the conference was very inspiring. A lot of progress has been made since the last conference, mainly because the money allocated to ISR by congress has arrived. Tuesday's sessions were the most relevant. I have only taken notes for Space Elevator related talks.

The big news since the last conference is that ISR finally has received the money congress had earmarked for it; 2.5 M$ I think. Carbon Designs Inc is also providing funding (2 M$) to a CNT research group at LANL. So things are slowly getting going on the funding side.

The conference website is here. I presented a paper on what happens if the space elevator breaks. You can download a preliminary version here, or get my slides from the conference (ppt) (sxi - OpenOffice) (pdf - no animations). The pictures I took are here.

The following notes are surely incomplete and full of errors, and I naturally decline all responsibility for problems that could result from information herein.

Day 0: Sunday April 3rd 2005

Dr. Galen Gisler, Supercomputer Calculations of the Meteor Impact that Killed the Dinosaurs

Day 1: Monday April 4th 2005

In the morning there was a keynote address by Wendell Mendell on the direction of Bush's space program, and what place the moon should play. Then Haym Benaroya talked about engineering of moon bases and William Dempster talked about Biosphere 2. Over lunch a demonstration of a robot that finds a lava tube (a gypsum box in the ground), digs into it and pressurizes it; quite neat!

Panel with conference cosponsors

Bryan Laubscher (LANL) Brad Edwards (Carbon Designs) Others for whom I didn't seem the name written representing ISR, Spacegrant, Space Science and Engineering Institute and one other.

Brad is now working at Carbon Designs which is trying to get the CNT material developed. Little detail on how exactly. Apparently he is also interacting with ESA and some company that would be interested in working on SE engineering in Amsterdam or Spain respectively. ISR has apparently gotten their long awaited funding from Marshall.

Brad also mentioned trying to arrange for an independent evaluation of the current SE proposal to identify key points that need to be worked on. The elevator 2010 climber competition apparently has 15 teems interested in competing, not sure yet when the competition would be. The Arthur C. Clarke foundation is also showing interest.

Brad : At lots of funding meetings people talk about putting a few more billions into rockets to get a few percent improvement. Lack of vision and willingness to take risk and try out a relatively cheap option like the space elevator that much more promise. Not clear that government agencies are going to be able to make the SE happen. Need to talk to other communities (e.g. Paul Allen).

The ISR guy. Held a workshop at university of Kentucky with the leading CNT researchers. Pure CNT appears to have strength of about 200 GPa according to current research. 10 GPa appears to be within grasp within 3 to 5 years. Consensus is that the next step we need for the SE is still completely unclear. Different ways of transferring loads between individual nanotubes will probably be needed. Currently space shuttle replacement seems to be the main funding focus. We need to find a place to get funding for the basic Research.

Brad's response: There is enough funding to get to the 10 to 20 GPa mark within a year or so.

Raytheon guy in audience mentioned that his company is very interested in developing infinite length nanotubes. Brad/Bryan say Bryan are starting to get such things already as well as some guys in Japan. For now growth rates are probably still too slow.

Day 2: Tuesday April 5th 2005

Brad Edwards, The Space Elevator... building our future.

Alexander Windel from the Space Elevator Club, Raising Public Awareness of the Space Elevator

Rodney Andrews from University of Kentucky, Multiwall CNT in Pan-Based Carbon Fiber

John Spadaro, ISR, Space Elevator Tether Design and Testing

Nicole Skias, ISR, Finite Element Analysis of CNRC Space Elevator Ribbons, Thermal Profile Study

Larry Bartoszek, Bartoszek Engineering, Space Elevator Ribbon and Climber from a Machine Design Perspective.

Panel on space access technology.

Brad Edwards, Carbon Design Inc Allyn Smith, Ronald Morgan, LANL George Whitesides, National Space Society 1 other guy from NASA

Brad : Little incentive for existing rocket companies to reduce launch cost. If you halve the cost, you double the consumption and their revenue stays about the same.

Whitesides : Current new commercial launch prospects are very exciting.

NASA guy: we have reached the limits of ISP for rockets, we need something new to really get access to space.


Brad : His pet access to space is the SE. He wants money to do the engineering, no building yet. He isn't expecting much from NASA.

NSS guy: 2 other exciting new access to space concepts. Inflatables. Mass driver on the slopes of the Kilimanjaro.

Brad : hopefully China's interest in space will help spurn US government to continue funding space. He has even been invited to speak there.

Ben Shelef on Elevator 2010

David Lang, Approximating Aerodynamic Response to the Space Elevator to Lower Atmospheric Wind Parameters.

Steve Patamia, LANL, Dynamic Response of Proposed Space Elevator to Solar Radiation Pressure

David Lang, Space Elevator Dynamic Response to In-Transit Climbers

D. C. Dzierski (ISR), A Case Study and Simulation Depicting Orbital Debris Encountered by the Space Elevator

A. M. Jorgensen, LANL, The Space Elevator and the Radiation Belts

Blaise Gassend, MIT, Fate of a Broken Elevator

Talk went well...

Wednesday April 6th 2005

J E D Cline

Talking about Space Carousels. I arrived late, and unfortunately didn't get what the scheme is, only a bunch of implementation details.

Bryan Laubscher, Space Elevator on other Worlds

Work done with his son Jason Laubscher.

Jim Dempsey, Space Elevator: The 2nd generation

Talk is hard to follow, but he has a nifty design.

Essentially there is a regular space elevator that is used as a support structure for a "double serpentine loop". I.e., a second ribbon, attached to the first that loops down to the ground, up beyond GEO and then back to an anchor on the ground. Mass is distributed along the ribbon so that there is an upward tension at the bottom of the first loop. By placing a payload there, you can get the payload to be lifted. Once again the appropriate mass distribution causes the payload to be decelerated as it approaches GEO. At GEO it ends up stopping, and a down-payload can replace the up-payload. The downwards trip is the inverse of the upwards trip.

Nice features are: no energy input as long as up and down mass transfer is the same, payload can be moving a lot faster.

It is a lot more acrobatic than the standard SE, though.

Ron Morgan, LANL, Toxicology

Space Elevator Panel

Panelists : Eric Westling, Bradley Edwards, David Smitherman, David Livingston, Blaise Gassend

I was on it so I only have written notes. I may scan and post them later (ask if you are interested).