Welcome to the May 2019 Edition of the ISEC Newsletter

Dear Fellow Space Elevator enthusiast,

The upcoming International Space Development Conference, (ISDC) held by the National Space Society, will take place this June, the 6th through the 9th, in Washington, D. C. Many of our members will be guest speakers at this conference. They have a three-hour track assigned to them on June 8th. I have posted the schedule in the body of the newsletter, below. The four themes being emphasized at this event will be:

  • Space Elevators are Closer than you think!
  • The Galactic Harbour is a part of the Global and Interplanetary Transportation Infrastructure
  • The space elevator development has gone beyond a preliminary technological assessment and is ready to enter the initial technological testing leading to establishing needed capabilities.
  • The magnitude of the Space Elevator Architecture demands that it be understood and supported by many.

The theme of this year’s ISDC is “Back to the Moon to Stay.” I love the idea of going back to the moon, but cringe at the cost, not just in dollars, but also in the volume of fossil fuels needed for launching all that equipment and personnel using rockets! What if we could gently “lift” all that material into space using electrical power provided by the sun, wind, and sea currents and at less than one-tenth the cost of the current methods of space transportation? ISEC's vision is to provide the world with inexpensive, safe, routine, and efficient access to space for the benefit of all mankind.

If you can get to this event, please do, and tell us about your experience!

Or, come to the Space Elevator Conference this August 16th through 18th in Seattle, Washington (the OTHER Washington!) See details for both of these conferences in the “Upcoming Events” section at the end of the newsletter.

If you would like to follow us on Twitter, use this link! Please like us on Facebook and watch more videos on our YouTube channel. And please visit the Space Elevator home page for all things regarding ISEC for the latest information.

Thank you for your continued support of the International Space Elevator Consortium!

Sandee Schaeffer

Newsletter Editor

President's Corner

by Pete Swan

Innovation by Entrepreneurs

As we know from last month's discussion on space debris mitigation for the space elevator, there are engineering challenges that must be addressed:  materials for the tether, dynamics of a 100,000 km tether, tether climber mechanism interfacing with the tether - and many more.  Of course, we have answered all of these items [at the preliminary technological assessment level].  The challenge today is to move forward while involving industry to "show me" the test results for the various engineering segments. 

In a related concept - innovation by entrepreneurs -- we can learn a lot.  Mr. Mark Cuban is a successful businessman, investor, owner of a pro basketball team and an entrepreneur.  He shared his philosophy on "how to" in a recent article.  I thought I would bring it forward within this newsletter to help understand where we are and how we should move forward as entrepreneurs of a major developmental transportation system.  He has ten rules of the road:

1.        Don't be afraid to take the first step – Luckily, we (ISEC) have taken Brad Edward's first step much further with help from others [JSEA, Obayashi, and the IAA, as well as many individuals]

2.        Failure is OK - We have failed to "kick-start" the funding so far, but we are continuing to push for significant funding for ISEC and industry.

3.        Think differently - we qualify there.  Our transportation infrastructure and business potential will change the world while lowering the cost of access to space.

4.        Don't drink the Kool-Aid - Creativity and big ideas show up often in our global open processes.  Each year we have new concepts and approaches presented at our ISEC conference as well as around the world in places such as the yearly International Astronautical Congress.

5.        Be obsessed - luckily, our informal leadership team [approximately 65 individuals who contribute towards our project] keep coming through with ideas and suggestions on how to improve our developmental approach. 

6.        Know your competition - The good news is we have great insight into the world of space launchers.  The price is coming down, but not nearly low enough and without all the other benefits of a space elevator -- such as no rock-and-roll, daily delivery to GEO, or minimal environment impact.

7.        Analyze Every Aspect, not just one - He pointed out that all innovations have multiple levels of complexity.  Indeed, we have that in spades.  The multi-system look at architectures shows that there are multiple variables that must be addressed simultaneously.  Luckily, our leadership has done that before.

8.        The Mind Matters - We all know that what we are doing has great potential to improve the human condition.  As such, we wake up each morning and think about how we are contributing to the advancement of so many aspects of the movement off-planet and improvement of the situation on-planet. 

9.        Mission counts - One of the first things ISEC accomplished when formed was to agree upon a Vision:  A world with inexpensive, safe, routine, and efficient access to space for the benefit of all mankind.

10.      Hit the books - and the internet - One of our main purposes is to inform and education others around the globe about the space elevator.  We need to ensure we keep contributing to studies [ISEC yearly approach & IAA topics] while ensuring our webpage becomes the "go-to" location for all things space elevators. 

As I have said often:   Think Big! Act Aggressively! and Work with Others..


Keep Climbing my Friends

Plan to Attend the 2019 ISEC Space Elevator Conference

The International Space Elevator Consortium presents the 2019 Space Elevator Conference to be held August 16th through August 18th, 2019 at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington with the Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 17th.

This year’s conference theme is “Outreach and Early Experimentation Support." The three-day technical conference will engage an international audience of scientists, engineers, educators, managers, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and students in discussions of space elevator development including Technology, Business and Operations, Outreach, and Legal topics.  More details of this year’s technical conference program will be posted on the conference website (http://isec.org/sec) with registration opening later this month.

The Family Science Fest portion of the conference will be held Saturday, August 17th. This event is in tandem with the technical conference and is included in the Museum of Flight admission price. The Family Science Fest includes a youth robotics competition, public Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, exhibits from universities, science organizations, and science clubs, and much more.  This is a great event for the whole family while you explore the Museum of Flight.

Many thanks to our annual “GEO” level sponsor, the Museum of Flight, for their generous ongoing support for this conference.

Contributed by:

David Horn

Conference Chair

2019 ISEC Space Elevator Conference Call for Papers!

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) invites you to join us in Seattle, Washington, USA and contribute to the latest research, knowledge, stimulating discussions, and exchange of ideas on space elevators at the 2019 ISEC Space Elevator Conference - August 16-18, 2019.  The theme of this year's conference is “Outreach and Early Experimentation Support."  Carbon nanotube, graphene, and strong materials research is also a very important topic that we continue to emphasize, and we encourage participation by materials science researchers on this exciting subject.  Authors are invited to submit titles and abstracts of proposed papers for the conference by May 19, 2019.


Topics for papers should fall into these categories.

1.            Early Experimentation Support

2.            Space elevator impact on the future and public outreach to societal institutions; government, media, unions, the educational system, etc.

3.            Carbon nanotube, graphene, and other tensile strength research progress and other strong materials research relating to space elevators

4.            Science, engineering, and technology topics relating to space elevators

5.            Operations, maintenance, ROI, and other business and financial topics relating to space elevators

6.            Treaties, laws, insurability, and other legal issues and topics relating to space elevators

Submit your abstracts and papers to the Conference Management Tool (CMT) at https://cmt3.research.microsoft.com/ISECSEC2019/.


Authors are invited to submit titles and abstracts by 19-May-2019. Abstracts must be in English, no more than 5000 words, should state the purpose, result, and conclusion of the proposed paper with supporting figures where appropriate. Authors will be notified of acceptance to submit a corresponding paper within 10 days of abstract submission. For all submittals, please include the title, authors and affiliations, mail address, e-mail, and phone number of the corresponding author.


Please use the ISEC Conference Papers Template for your paper. Papers must be in English with the first full draft for review due by 30-Jun-2019.  This is an informal checkpoint to make sure you are on track to have the paper ready for the conference. Final papers and presentations are due 09-Aug-2019 so that we can make them ready for conference attendees. PowerPoint or PDF formats are preferred for presentations.

Important Dates

Conference:  August 16–18, 2019 

Submission of Abstracts by May 19, 2019

Draft Papers Due:  June 30, 2019

Final Papers and Presentations Due:  August 09, 2019


Send your abstract, paper, and technical program inquiries to:

Conference Chair: David Horn (david.horn@isec.org)

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

ISEC President Dr Pete Swan saw an intriguing newsletter from Peter Diamandis on April 21st in which he talked about AI breakthroughs in the near future. Here’s the link… https://www.diamandis.com/blog/convergence-catalyzer-2-ai

In particular, Diamandis describes how AI design systems drive breakthroughs in atomically precise manufacturing and would assist in new material development ... and of course this is precisely what we need for the Space Elevator. Pete circulated the newsletter to Adrian Nixon, a single crystal graphene expert (see www.nixor.co.uk/about) and 2018 ISEC conference Keynote Speaker, and others, here’s a synopsis of the email exchange:

Pete:  Adrian, can you leverage such a system?

Adrian: Yes, we’ve been thinking about leveraging AI in our manufacturing process for some time.  We have a staged approach to the manufacturing development.  There will be two time-consuming stages:

1. Adjusting the growth conditions to form single crystal graphene in our proof of concept machine

2. Doing the process optimisation at the pilot production plant stage - speeding up the production of high-quality, defect-free materials

On my advisory board you will see Chris Bentley.  You’ll recall Chris was the chap who made me aware of the space elevator in the first place - Pete and John kindly signed the book for him when I was in Seattle.  He and I have been mulling over the use of AI in our work.  A couple of years ago Chris built his own AI from scratch - from code, to figure out how it works. His AI could recognise any handwritten numbers with a success rate of 97%.  Having seen how he did it, I have an improved understanding of how AI actually works - It is essentially a system for doing very complicated pattern matching.  I have attached a graphic that summarises how the AI works using the neural network pathway metaphor.

Chris writes a fascinating blog, well worth a read if you get time http://www.thestrategyexchange.co.uk/2017/07/open-the-pod-bay-doors-please-hal/

The key to making the AI useful is to manage the inputs carefully so that the neural network reinforces success and weakens failure pathways in a way that defines success in terms of clear links to defined outcomes. This means AI is best when dealing with ‘closed’ systems (by this I mean well defined / bounded systems)


However, AI works less well when the system is ‘open’ (less well defined / bounded systems with unclear outcomes). General medical practise is one of these https://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/28/3/231. If you like McKinsey’s stuff, then you can read more here: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-analytics/our-insights/what-ai-can-and-cant-do-yet-for-your-business

Summary: (Apologies for the long response to a short question.)

I think AI can help us with the process optimisation piece (for single-crystal graphene) because we’ll have understood the system by then. It might help us with the proof of concept stage but as we’ll be developing the growth conditions and also developing the sensor technology we may not have the control we think we have on the inputs. So, we may find we automate failure more than we expect - and because AI is a 'black box' it’ll be hard to find out why. Oh, and we'll have the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL - Similar to NIST in the USA) working with us on this.

Peter Robinson: Yes, AI could help in material development...but I believe the greatest use of AI in the Space Elevator will be as part of the tether control system. It will take a smart AI, probably using machine learning, to predict the best dynamic control inputs needed to minimise the risk of impact from the thousands of pieces of orbital hardware, whilst also taking into account the background motion induced by tidal, solar wind, Coriolis and many other forces, and autonomously enacting the best avoidance strategy in real time...and doing it for many years without a single error. The predictive models we’re designing today will be embedded in that system, but the AI will revise those models to match observed behaviour. Computers of course will support almost every aspect of the system design (design analysis, virtual product development, etc.), but I’m not sure those systems can be described as ‘AI’.


Save the date and time for the first ISEC webinar on space elevator topics!

Featured speakers include Jerome Pearson, co-inventor of the modern space elevator concept, Adrian Nixon, editor of the Nixene Journal on graphene development and applications, Pete Swan, president of ISEC and Michael Fitzgerald, chief architect for ISEC.  The webinar will also feature a Q&A session for participants.


The webinar will be live beginning:

Friday, June 14th from16:00-20:00 Los Angeles (PDT)

Saturday, June 15th    00:00-04:00 London,

Saturday, June 15th    08:00-12:00 Tokyo


We'll do it again on:

Saturday, June 15th from 09:00-13:00 Los Angeles time

Saturday, June 15th         17:00-21:00 London

Sunday, June16th            01:00-05:00 Tokyo


Registration for the webinar is free.  Look for sign-up details at www.isec.org in the coming weeks.  

Any questions?  Please send to:  Info@isec.org

Here is the schedule for Space Elevator events at ISDC (International Space Development Conference) held by the NSS (National Space Society) June 6-9, 2019 in Arlington, VA.

Upcoming Space Elevator Related Events

National Space Societey (NSS)

International Space Development Conference (ISDC)

June 6-9, 2019

Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, Arlington, VA, USA


International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC)

Space Elevator Conference (SEC)

August 16-18, 2019

Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA, USA


International Astronautic Congress

October 21-25, 2019

Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington D. C., USA


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