Excitement in Los
Angeles-26 May 2018
Elevator Consortium (ISEC) Presents a Space Elevator Track at the NSS’s International
Space Development Conference (ISDC)
ISEC has organized and will conduct a space
elevator track, with multiple presentations, at the National Space Society’s
yearly conference [May 24-27]. The fun and excitement at this conference
reaches far beyond space elevators with its coverage of most activities focused
upon movement of humanity off-planet. www.nss.org The four days cover most every
topic of interest to include: asteroids, lunar settlements, low cost access to
space, next generation space enthusiasts, many roads to space, space
settlements, space solar power, Mars exploration and settlement, space law and
space medicine. The Space Elevator track will be on Saturday as follows: [any aspects of this preliminary layout could
There will be a booth in the exhibit hall and
much activity all weekend. Please come and visit the NSS conference and join in
the space elevator activities. We are looking for volunteers who would “staff”
the booth during the busy hours. Just think, Los Angeles in late spring near
the airport [LAX].
Architecture Note #17
by Michael A. Fitzgerald
First, we had an idea; then we built the Roadmaps;
and then we laid out the Strategic Approach.
Recently we assessed the
technology readiness of the Transportation System.
Now we need Funding, so the
Approach can become the Plan.
This is an Architecture Note. It is the opinion of ISEC’s Chief Architect.
It represents an effort to document ISEC’s ongoing science and engineering
discussions, and 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
The Galactic Harbour
Our Strategic Approach must become our Plan
As I mentioned last month, the theme for our
2018 Conference in Seattle will be something like... “The Space Elevator
Transportation infrastructure is closer than you think”. The theme will also
include a thorough discussion of the Multi-Stage Space Elevator (MSSE). We are preparing
to present the topics in an antagonist versus protagonist format; seeking to
get net judgements of each of the seven positions cited in ISEC’s preliminary
Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) of the Space Elevator Transportation System;
and the MSSE as well. The full discussion of the conference themes is discussed
later in this Newsletter.
The “pro vs. con” positions will complete the initial
substantiation of the preliminary TRA. Based on that stance, we believe that ISEC
can legitimately approach funding sources to get the resources we need to transform
our Strategic Approach into a development plan.
How to get there
First let’s review the preliminary TRA:
1. The Earth Port is buildable with today’s available technologies
and engineering expertise.
2. The Headquarters / Primary Operations Center is buildable today.
3. The Tether Climber is similar to a today’s satellites, and ISEC
sees no technology challenge to the construction of the Climber.
4. The GEO Node and Region technology needs are understood and ISEC
assesses that the most of the GEO Node’s Transportation System components can
be built now.
5. The Apex Anchor will be a challenge. Its role is key to the building of the Space
Elevator, but it is neither a technological nor engineering obstacle. The Apex Anchor can support the Space
Elevator Transportation System; and could be built in the near future.
6. The Tether material is the pacing item for the development of the
Space Elevator. Currently, there are at
least three viable materials that could mature into the needed “strong enough
and long enough” material for a Space Elevator Transportation Tether; 100,000
kms long and strong enough to support multiple Climbers.
7. The other voiced challenge to the Space Elevator Transportation
System faces is collision avoidance. ISEC, and others, have studied the issue,
and collisions are much less likely than most think. Even so, the Space
Elevator Transportation System will be advised of approaching debris even
smaller than a pebble – in sufficient time to avoid it. Further, the Space Elevator Transportation
System will work with the FAA’s Space Traffic Management program ensuring that
the Tether operates only within uniquely assigned space locations. This traffic
management approach will keep other operating space systems safely separated
from the Elevator.
The Strategic Approach
Our strategy is to link the Space Elevator
Transportation System to the Space Elevator Enterprise; within a Unifying
Vision known as the Galactic Harbour
The Strategic Approach is ISEC’s guiding theme
for the technical development of a Space Elevator. The Space Elevator
Transportation System will be the core, priority construction activity; and,
its success will be the foundation of the Space Elevator Enterprise System. They
will be built in a manner separate from each other but not in isolation. This
“separate but not segregated” paradigm establishes both the prioritization and
collaboration between and within our near parallel development efforts.
Moving from an approach to a plan
First, let us recall our definition of IOC for the Space Elevator
Transportation System; our first destination at the end of development:
The Space Elevator Transportation System is comprised of one Earth
Port with two tether termini, multiple Apex Anchors each supporting 100,000 km
Tethers, 14 Tether Climbers, and a single Headquarters and Primary Operations
Center. The GEO Node supports the Space Elevator Transportation System with a
range of “overhead’ functions; e. g. test, safety, and support.
The Architecture Engineering sequence for developing a Strategic
Plan for the Space Elevator Transportation System:
substantiation (at the 2018 SEATTLE conference) of the seven elements the
prelim TRA statements.
the for and against aspects of all seven preliminary TRA statements.
publish the preliminary Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) in the
proceedings of the Conference.
4. Build roadmaps of Verification and Validation tests, experiments, and
demonstrations as evidence that the engineering development of the Space
Elevator is ready to proceed. Much of that roadmap set will be the various
verification and validation tests and demonstrations discussed in the ISEC
position paper #2014-1; Space Elevator
Architecture and Roadmaps.
is expected that the culminating V & V efforts will:
to the segment structure of the Space Elevator Transportation System,
to the seven cited items in the preliminary TRA, and
the technology & engineering maturation index of the “Sequences”
funding to execute the roadmaps.
Subsequent to the 2018 Conference
theme does NOT say the Space Elevator Enterprise System is closer. ISEC needs
to construct a similar transformation and roadmap process for the Enterprise
System. That scheme needs to be looked at closely, and must include the
eventual customers, clients and partners of the Enterprise. It also must
include the various industry members who will construct our Galactic Harbour;
the Transportation System and the Enterprise System.
The “separate but not segregated” paradigm of
our Strategic Approach cites the need for collaboration between our near parallel
development efforts. In order to initiate that collaboration, targeted outreach
efforts must begin by early 2019. The Space Elevator Transportation System will
be the core, priority construction activity; and, its success will be the foundation
of the Space Elevator Enterprise. They must be built in a manner separate from
each other but not in isolation.
A quick look at “Outreach topics”
1. Begin a Technology
Readiness Assessment for those technology and engineering activities within the
2. Contact DARPA
regarding their declaration that technology development is needed for on orbit
3. Contact the
FAA regarding their role in Space Traffic Management and acknowledgement of a
Space Elevator as part of that traffic management.
4. Contact industry
(where the technology REALLY resides) to openly discuss the Space Elevator
topic. We need to:
a. Get closer with key industry players; especially those whose
future business activities are GEO Centric.
b. Get those industry players to send their proprietary Requests for
Information to us.
c. Get these same industry players to accept us as business partners
… in the future.
We have a lot of work to do, but the goal of a functional space elevator is closer than ever!
Elevator Consortium (ISEC) Announces a Summer Internship Program
Deadline-15 May 2018
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 four gaining
internships. The details are as follows:
Apply, be connected with the appropriate ISEC mentor, select topic of interest,
conduct individual research, confer with mentor every two weeks, 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 up to 4 interns for
• Where: the
intern will conduct Research remotely with meetings by Skype or equivalent. The
intern’s final meeting will either be over Skype or at the ISEC Conference.
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 or through a video.
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: April 15th.
◦ Internship period: June 15th-August
◦ ISEC Conference: August 25th.
Please submit your
application and any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15,
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
Riding the Multi-Stage Space Elevator
by John Knapman
First you need to get to Kiribati in the
central Pacific Ocean, probably via Hawaii. As you approach, you will see a
cluster of tubes rising from the terminus platform. The platform is floating
and is stabilized in the same way as an oil exploration platform. When
preparations are complete, you will board a tube climber and enter the capsule
inside it. This capsule will be your accommodation for a week as you travel to
an altitude of 22,000 miles.
The tube climber will draw power from the
tubes as it ascends through the atmosphere to the edge of space, a journey of
about an hour. As you climb higher, the sky will darken and more and more stars
will become visible. However, your weight will not reduce noticeably, since you
are not in orbit. The ride will be as gentle as riding an elevator in a tall
The edge of space, known as the Kármán line,
is 60 miles up. There you will arrive at the first stage, where automatic
equipment will transfer you inside your capsule from the tube climber to a
waiting tether climber. You will see the tether rising into the distance above
you. You can just make out the streams of small objects called bolts, which are
rising above you in parallel lines. Because they are so fast and there are gaps
between them, you will see them as a transparent blur. Normally, there is
no-one here, but you may just see an engineer doing some routine checks and
Your solar-powered tether climber will
commence its ascent at dawn to make the most of the sunlight. The acceleration
is very gentle, taking four minutes to reach its speed of 48 mph. As it climbs,
it gets further away from Earth, the gravity becomes less, and it loses weight.
Therefore, it can climb faster, reaching 72 mph at a height of 1000 miles by
the end of the day. The next day, its speed gradually increases to 123 mph as
it climbs to just over 3000 miles. The blur of the streams of bolts is still
visible about half a mile away on each side of the climber.
At about 9 am on the third day, we reach the
second stage, 3750 miles above Earth, where we slow down and stop for a couple
of minutes. You can see the streams of bolts reaching the semi-circular shape
known as the ambit. They hold the second stage up; it turns them around and
sends them back down. In turn, the ambit holds up the equipment at the second
stage, and it supports the tether. The tether just below the second stage is
thicker than it is above, although you may not be able to see the difference.
There is a mechanism on the second stage to transfer the climber from the lower
part of the tether to the upper part.
By this time, you are much lighter. Your
weight is just over a quarter of what it was on Earth. The same applies to the
climber. As a result, it accelerates to its speed of 175 mph and continues to
accelerate gently to its maximum speed of 187.5 mph. The climber continues at
this speed, with stops due to darkness depending on the season. On the seventh
day, it reaches the GEO node at 22,000 miles. Here, you and the climber are
weightless. The GEO node is undergoing extensive construction work to turn it
into a small city where people can live and work. It is a gateway to the solar
system and, ultimately, the galaxy and beyond. You can still see the tether
continuing further away from Earth. Earth itself is by now a ball looking much
more distant, although it is still the largest object in the sky by far. It no
longer seems to be down; in microgravity, ‘up’ and ‘down’ have little meaning.
2018 Space Elevator Conference
by Michael Fitzgerald
The 2018 Space
“The Space Elevator Transportation System is
closer than you think”
dual-themed conference featuring the technical description of the Multi-Stage
Space Elevator and the preliminary Technology Readiness Assessment of the Space
Elevator Transportation System.
This is an Architecture Note. It is the opinion of ISEC’s Chief Architect.
I envision the Architect’s preliminary Technology
Readiness Assessment (TRA) to be the basis for one part of the Conference. The other
part will be discussions on John Knapman’s Multi-Stage Space Elevator. The two
positions would be presented in tandem. Each presentation is followed by a
short workshop period in which short presentations are prepared by conference
attendees. The workshop groups are small and members can migrate from table to
table to instigate feedback. The feedback presentations must express either
protagonist or antagonist views on the topics. Presenters can deliver BOTH a
pro and a CON brief. I see a conference of heavy, valued participation on each
topic; with participation-in the form of handwritten charts amidst Knapman’s
and Fitzgerald’s formal charts.
Brian L. has suggested we hold a non-binding
assessment (pass-fail) votes somewhere during the conference; even twice. Vote
at the beginning of the conference and then again at the end; to see if
positions were changed.
Somehow, I would like to pre-schedule a couple
short briefing from others on these two topics; sort of pre-determined Red
I’d bet even money that, by instigating
feedback, we will get some great commentary. I also bet that the feedback will
help us delineate Transportation from Enterprise; and IOC (Initial Operational
Capability) from FOC (Full Operational Capability.)
Grit -- Persistence -- Patience
I was reminded of those three words recently
when I was dealing with another start-up project. Working in the “unknown --unknown”
arena where great projects start, with so little solid definition available, is
one of the pleasures of being a creative engineer/scientist/program manager/financier/investor
or passionate participant. My definition of “unknown -- unknown” is the arena
where there are so many parts of a mega project that are not only unknown
[like: I do not know how to do that],
but not foreseen in any sense [like: holy cow where did that issue come from?].
We are in that arena of not only not knowing some aspects of space elevators, but
also being sure what issues will surface to puzzle us. The good news is that is
the way creative engineering progresses towards project completion. It is a
real phenomenon that challenges the best and brightest each time they step
forward into the unknown and propose innovative approaches to global needs.
Well, the space elevator is right there on the
edge of being initiated. Now the tough period starts-how do we develop within
the unknown arena with minimum funding and sparse support? The answer is
similar to the last ten years of creating and maintaining ISEC-Grit,
Persistence, and Patience. Yes, each of us needs:
· Grit: Google Dictionary defines
grit as--“courage and
resolve; strength of character.” I like to think of it as the ability to take
the punches, determine the best way to re-enter the discussion and win with
· Persistence: Google
Dictionary defines persistence as--“firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of
difficulty or opposition.” I like to think of it as the person with the long
horizon and the ability to plan across years and decades.
· Patience: Google
Dictionary defines patience as--“the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering
without getting angry or upset.” I like to think of it as the ability to wait
out the opposition and silently plan for the breakthrough that you are certain
elevator team needs each of these characteristics as well as the belief that we
will get there in the near to mid future.
I am really hoping for some near-term funding that will initiate
research and stimulate some verification and validation testing at the segment
level. We have come a long way from briefing charts to a point where our Chief
Architect is laying out plans that can be implemented to initiate development.
Keep Climbing my Friends