Welcome to the April 2019 Edition of the ISEC Newsletter

Dear Fellow Space Elevator enthusiast,

The team is always on the search for news and science articles that mention the Space Elevator and our Technical lead, Peter Robinson found this doozy:


The part of the article that pertains to Space Elevators was when NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was asked by Bill Foster during a hearing why NASA isn't funding the Space Elevator to get to space.

That's what WE want to know!

In this issue:

President Swan calls for testing materials and technologies to prepare for the next phase of the development of the Space Elevator, and announces our Summer Internship Program.

Our Space Elevator Conference Chair, David Horn, gives the official announcement of the conference dates and location and gives a call for technical papers.

And our Chief Architect, Michael Fitzgerald, talks about the topic that always comes up when talking about putting a Space Elevator--how do you avoid space debris?

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

Major ISEC Message for Washington, DC Conferences

We are ready to declare that the space elevator is “Tech Ready.”

The message that ISEC wants to portray in the two conferences this year in DC - the International Space Development Conference (June) and the International Astronautical Congress (Oct) -- is the recognition of how far we have come in the last ten years.  Last month I called it a "Sea Change;" and, indeed it is when we start describing the Galactic Harbour and its combination of space transportation infrastructure and commercial business enterprises.

ISEC believes the space elevator is ready to move into the next phase, -- "Initiate Space Elevator Development." As explained in the latest Architectural Note (#24) entitled "The Path to Tech Readiness," the current systems level maturation must lead to industrial testing and demonstrations of various technologies ensuring that the space elevator can proceed towards operations. We are truly at the point where the next steps require industrial involvement with executable demonstrations and testing leading to "show me" results. We have moved well beyond Brad Edwards and Jerome Pearson's views of space elevators towards the actual initiation of a program. What are the next steps?  According to the ISEC technical leadership - transition to industrial activities (testing - testing - and - testing).


Keep Climbing my Friends

Announcing 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 by May 2019.

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)

Architecture Note #25

Space Elevator Architecture’s Debris Mitigation Roles


  • Debris alert --> Warning needs
  • Debris sizing --> as a threat variant
  • Space Elevator Tether Movement --> passive defense
  • The Sentry System --> an Architecture adjunct
  • System Recovery --> Post debris-event actions

Personal Prolog

This is an Architecture Note.  It is the opinion of the Chief Architect.  It represents an effort to document ongoing science and engineering discussions.  It is one of many to be published over time.  Most importantly, it is a sincere effort to be the diary, or the chronicle, of the multitude of our technical considerations as we progress; along the pathway developing the Space Elevator.

Michael A. Fitzgerald

Senior Exec VP and Co-Founder

Galactic Harbour Associates, Inc

Space Elevator Transportation & Enterprise Systems

Space Elevator Summary Statement of Performance Attributes for Debris Mitigation

It may be a myth, but old story goes that once upon a time (circa 1895) there were only two automobiles in the entire state of Ohio, and they ended up colliding with each other.  So, urban myth or not; It probably is NOT a good idea to think that “collisions” will not affect your system.  In our case, it is collisions with space debris and/or “rogue” satellites.

The Space Elevator Transportation System will soon be beginning its next development stage; engineering validation.  In this stage, all needed capabilities are reviewed for engineering realism, development risk, performance projections, test data and operations simulations availability, and more.  In most cases, the Space Elevator performance will be derived from subsystems to be designed, developed, and built within industry’s Space Elevator Transportation System development program(s).  In other cases, the performance capability sought will be provided by others; an entity not part of the development program.  One such case will be “at large” / or “on the market” capabilities to resolve the real and potential threat from space debris and “rogue” space craft.

ISEC believes that debris mitigation concepts will be built, operating, and thriving before the Space Elevator Transportation System reaches operational status.  To that end, this paper serves as the initial characterization of how the Elevator can allocate the needed performance to a system then available.  That system would serve as Sentry; capturing, destroying, and / or removing the debris threat.   Additionally, other “topics” must be addressed.

Debris Alert

ISEC foresees a close and interactive communication with the military Combined Space Operations Control Center; known familiarly as CSpOC.  CSpOC is responsible for tracking the thousands of debris pieces and providing the orbital parameters of those pieces to operating space users. In addition, commercial capabilities have emerged which offer forming and formatting that information; operationally satisfying their commercial customers.  Analytical Graphics, Inc.’s ExoAnalytic Solutions has been active in this regard for years.

At any rate, the Space Elevator team expects that the Sentry system operator will be able to depend on a warning forecast at 72 hours (to be revealed [tbr]), of a convergence / close approach to a Space Elevator tether location (accuracy tbr).  This closure accuracy will improve (improvement tbr) as convergence approaches.  The Space Elevator team expects the commercial team will hold a place on the Debris Mitigation Chair in the Space Elevator’s Headquarters/Primary Operations Center (HQ/POC).  The Space Elevator team expects to share the elevators self-surveillance data and other location information with Space Situational Awareness authorities (to be determined [tbd]).

Debris Size

The Space Elevator team foresees that the Space Elevator tether will be able to withstand “collisions” of space debris when the debris is small (size tbd).  That engineering character (e. g. size, mass, and speed) has not yet been assessed AND the operational tether maintenance concept is still being defined.  It is expected that the Space Elevator Tether Climber will be able to detect tether “scars”, and the Climbers are expected to have some level of minor tether repair.

In any case, the team expects the Debris Mitigation Chair to work with its Space Situational Awareness member to predict damage of an impending collision, assess the damage caused by collisions not predicted or that could not be avoided. Damage assessment is an imperative; pre & post event.

Space Elevator Tether Movement

The Space Elevator team has long cited the capability of the tether to move away from an impending collision.  It is much like a simple “jump rope” movement; the movement generated by movement of the Earth Port’s Tether Terminus with movement augmented by Reel In–Reel Out (RIRO) spools at the Earth Port and at the Apex.  Simulation work is necessary but the impact of such a motion on tether / climber operations appears to be negligible.  The team would rather have to “jump” rope only when necessary.    In any event, the jump rope motion will be retained within our Debris Mitigation efforts.

The Sentry

The Space Elevator team has decided to examine an added capability within Debris Mitigation.   In a concept called “Sentry”, space debris will be intercepted and removed before a collision takes place.  Debris headed for a collision with a portion of the Space Elevator will have intercept priority but, if otherwise not encumbered by that priority; the Sentry will gather and dispose of other space debris as a matter of course.

The team proposes that the Sentry be independently built as its engineering competencies are developed.  Its initial operations are dictated by its schedule; not the Space Elevator’s schedule.  However, it should be operational as part of the Space Elevator Architecture as part of the Elevator’s Tether deployment and build up.  In our terms, by Sequence #4.

The team foresees a concept in which Sentry debris capture satellites would be in elliptical orbits along the lower tether; at least including the “debris belt” (tbr).  The number of debris collectors needed will be determined based on a flight operations analysis; with periodicity and revisit established by the 72 hour (tbr) window and the number of captures needed to maintain mitigation.

Space Elevator Recovery Operations

The ISEC team has done little in this regard; but in the coming months ISEC will begin definition of Tether & Climber operations fashioned to minimize the impact of a tether break.   A key aspect of recovery operations will be where the break occurs.  In many cases, the lower portion and attached objects will reenter; being destroyed.  In other cases, the altitude of the break would lead to the tether moving away from reentry and thus be accessible by the RIRO’s. Additional RIRO’s would be valuable in that circumstance.   The economic value of the payloads in the several climbers affected by a break also makes recovery operations mandatory. (Dah!)

In closing, Space Elevator Outreach Program

Space debris is expected to be part of space operations for an extended period in this century.  The real mitigation approach is the establishment of policy and actions that will prevent, or at least extensively reduce, the creation of debris in the first place.

This paper is ISEC’s attempt to document the approach to mitigate the Space Elevator mission impact and safety issues when space debris meets the Space Elevator’s tether.

We strongly suggest that other activities confront the issue. In the era of space debris, we all live in Ohio.

More to be supplied --


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.

International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC)

Announces a Summer Internship Program

Deadline 15 May 2019

ISEC will have an internship program this summer to stimulate research inside the space community with the purpose of improving the Body of Knowledge on space elevators. The expectation is that the intern would work from home, putting in approximately 10 hours a week researching various components of the space elevator while working with an ISEC mentor. The selection will be competitive with the top several gaining internships. The details are as follows:

Process: Apply, be connected with the appropriate ISEC mentor, select topic of interest, conduct individual research, confer with mentor every two weeks, interview local space professional, summarize research, present to mentor/and-or at the ISEC Conference.

Who: This program is open to all undergraduate students.  The program is best suited to Freshman and Sophomores working in a scientific or engineering field, however students from all areas of study are encouraged to apply as ISEC works on all aspects of the Space Elevator challenge from technical engineering problems to questions of Space law and economics.  We will be accepting several interns for Summer 2019.

Where: the intern will conduct Research remotely with meetings by Skype or equivalent.  The internships final meeting will either be over Skype or at the ISEC Conference.

What: Interns will be researching or assisting with ongoing research of one area of Space Elevator development.  Areas of research include Space Elevator History, Materials Applications for Space Elevator tethers, Earth Port infrastructure, and more.  Interns will report progress regularly to their mentor and produce a summary of their research, as per agreement between intern and mentor.  They will present this research in person, by skype or through a video.

Benefit: In addition to the unique opportunity to work with leading Space Elevator researchers each intern will be awarded a $500 grant, an ISEC certificate of completion, and a letter of recommendation.

Key Dates:

Application due: May 15th.

Internship period: June 15th - August 15th.

ISEC Conference: August - last week

To Apply: Please submit your application and any questions to inbox@isec.org by May 15, 2019.

Your application should include your name, school, year, major [and interests], and a short summary of your interest in ISEC and why you would like to have a career in the space arena (no more than 200 words).

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