A picture of Blaise Gassend
Notes from the Second Annual Space Elevator Conference

Here are the notes I took at the Second Annual Space Elevator conference that took place September 12th to 15th 2003 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was only present for two days of the conference, so that is all I will be able to cover. Most of the information here is in the slides that were shown at the conference, and which should be available soon on the ISR website. I expect that these notes are full of errors and misunderstandings, and I of course decline all responsibility if you get into trouble for believing anything that is written here.

That being said, the conference was a very good experience. I feared that there would be some counterproductive freaks preaching strange propulsion concepts that they had dreamed up during the night, and was pleasantly not to find any. The atmosphere was very relaxed, with a lot of dialogue between the speakers and the audience. My only complaint is that a lot of the information was not very recent, though ISR now appears to be getting funded for Space Elevator research, so things should be moving ahead.

Day 1: Saturday September 13th 2003.

Introductory presentation by Arthur C Clarke

Short talk. Talked about the press coverage that the SE is currently getting. Mentioned the problem of space debris. Got assorted questions about his writing, and on his opinion on various technical aspects of the Space Elevator. The answers were rather high level but generally got a lot of laughs out of the audience. When asked, Sir Clarke said that if given the opportunity arose for him to take a ride on the elevator he would be "ready and willing" to go, and his choice of final destination would be Mars without any hesitation.

Opening remarks by Dr. Brad Edwards and Dr Bryan Laubscher

After a quick break, the core of the conference starts.

Dr. Edwards talked first.

Brad's talk was very brief, and essentially said stuff that is in the SE book and the NIAC reports.

Talk followed by an ISR video that presents the SE. Nice flashy video, should be downloadable soon, presumably from the ISR website.

Quick question session while Dr Bryan Laubscher irons out powerpoint issues.

Dr Laubscher talked next.

Nanotubes by Dr R. Andrews and Dr. Y. T. Zhu

Rodney Andrews first:

Dr Zhu:

A flurry of questions occurred here, first Dr Zhu was answering, and then Dr Andrews joined in. I wonder how much of Dr Zhu's talk remains and if he will get to it.

He didn't, we went to the break.

Tether Technology by Blaise Gassend, Francis Canning and Nicole West

My talk went quite well. I got a lot of good questions which suggested to me that they didn't find me dull or incomprehensible. I hope to get my hands on a video of myself so that I can get a better impression of my performance. The slides for my talk are here.

Francis Canning's talk.

A question was asked and I moved to my notepad to try to answer it. I didn't follow Francis's talk too much.

Nicole West:

Tether environment and hazards Dr Steve Rogers and Dr Anders Jorgensen

Covered the usual hazards section from the book/report.

Dr Jorgensen. The magnetospherics.

Steven E Patamia on oscillations with brief boundary conditions.

No notes here because I was busy checking his calculations which didn't agree with mine.

Power beaming, presented by Brad Edwards.

Roy Goeller (LANL) on Solar Cell performance.

Systems Engineering by Dr Laura Pullum and Dr Pete Swan

Dr Pullum

Dr Swan

Dr Pullum

Dr Swan, the example of making the space elevator survivable.

Space Elevator Climber Technology Overview by Bryan Laubscher

Bruce Makenzie on the Space Elevator Institute.

Mention of the International Astronomical Conference that will have space elevator sessions.

Day 2: Sunday September 14th 2003

Pat Russel on NIAC

Presentation of a High School Ribbon Climbing Competition

Michael Laine commented on a video on a ribbon climbing competition (http://gotrobots.com).

Earth Location / Launch Facility by Dr. Joe Gardner and Philip Ragan

Joe Gardner (ISR):

Lots of discussion on anchor location ensued, with questions from the audience.

Deployment Scenarios by Dr. Allyn Smith and Carey Butler

Dr Allyn Smith:

Lots of questions.

Carey Butler

Environmental Safety and Health Concerns by Ron Morgan and Dr. Anthony Yancey

Ron Morgan:

Dr Yancey, M.D.:

Cost assessment by Dr. Brad Edwards

Economics/Climber Scheduling by Eric Westling

Lots of skeptical questions in the audience pointing out many missing costs in the analysis. The values are probably off, but the trends are probably valid.

Politics by Dr Marjorie Darrah and Dr Bradley Edwards

Dr. Brad Edwards:

Questions about satellite slots and such.

The Space Elevator Information Database by Marvin Bumgardner

An analysis of the other stuff that would be in the database followed.