The official newsletter of the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC)


Our mission statement:

"...ISEC promotes the development, construction and operation of a space elevator as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity..."

ISEC e-NewsletterJanuary 2011
In This Issue
ISEC 2011 Theme
ISEC Podcast released
EuroSpaceward 2010 Conference
Goodbye 2010...Hello 2011
Prize Sponsorship
Corporate Membership
What is ISEC?
Visit ISEC on the Web
Quick Links
Letter from the President

It's January and that can mean only one thing; ISEC has adopted its theme for 2011: Developing stronger, lighter tethers. Our Tagline for 2011 is 30 MYuri or bust!  This is the topic that we at ISEC will be focusing many of our efforts towards this year.  You can find a full explanation of those efforts in the story below and by visiting our website,

Speaking of our website, we are pleased to announce that we have completely redesigned and revamped it and that the new version is up and operational! Our new site is much more user friendly than 'version 1' and it will be maintained in a more dynamic method moving forward. We've put a lot of work into it and we hope that you enjoy it - let us know what you think.

Let me close this month by asking you to join ISEC or, if your membership has expired in ISEC, to please consider renewing your membership.  Membership fees are our lifeblood - without them we cannot do all of the activities that we feel are necessary to move the concept of a Space Elevator forward.  Members get a free poster and a free copy of the ISEC Journal.  In addition, members attending the Space Elevator Conference will also receive additional benefits.  Regular, professional memberships are only $68/year while student members are only $25/year.  The cost is small while the benefits are large - please join!

Ted Semon
President - ISEC
ISEC 2011 Theme

The ISEC Board of Directors is proud to announce the official theme for 2011, Developing Stronger, Lighter Tethers, as a way to focus the scientific community on the most important problem facing the construction of a Space Elevator. The announcement was made at the fourth annual EuroSpaceward Conference in Luxembourg last December.

Tether strength is the key technological breakthrough that we need for the Space Elevator to be a success.  Unfortunately it is the area where we are seeing the least advancement and investment.  Our goal is to change that.

How strong does the tether have to be? Though several units of measurement exist for specific strength, ISEC has adopted the measurement of Yuri's in honor of Yuri Artsutanov, the Russian engineer who first thought of the idea of a Space Elevator. For reference, one MegaYuri is equivalent to 1 GigaPascal-cubic-centimeter per gram and the specific strength of steel is about .5 MegaYuri's. A usable Space Elevator tether would need to be approximately 30 MYuri's, hence the tag line 30 MYuri's or Bust!

There are currently no materials with the strength necessary to make a Space Elevator but ongoing research points to carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as being the strongest candidates for success.  More information on tether requirements can be found in the Spaceward Foundation's Space Elevator Feasibility Condition document.

This year's theme will be the target of much of the work that ISEC does for 2011. The Artsutanov and Pearson prizes will be awarded for the best papers on the theme of Developing stronger, lighter tethers.  Unlike last year where we asked only the Pearson prize papers to be on our theme, this year we are asking both the Artsutanov and Pearson prize papers to be focused on this theme.  You can read more about the prizes elsewhere in this newsletter.

In the 2010 competitions, we had no winners, only two Honorable Mentions for the Artsutanov prize.  We are hoping for a better result this year and are going to publicize this competition to a much larger audience.  If you have any contacts at universities, space-related agencies or institutions or know of anyone else who might be interested, please forward this newsletter to them.  We are awarding prizes of $1,500 for the Pearson Prize and $2,500 for the Artsutanov Prize.  In addition, the winner(s) will be invited to this year's Space Elevator conference to present their papers.

In addition to the Artsutanov and Pearson prizes, this year's Space Elevator Conference, the ISEC Report (formally known as the "Red Team" Study Report) and the 2011 Poster will also all be focused on this theme.  This year's theme follows a successful 2010 focus on Space Debris Mitigation which generated several interesting papers and presentations at the 2010 Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, Washington.

For more details on the 2011 theme or the ISEC Prize competitions, please contact Ted Semon at or visit our website.
ISEC Podcast Released

Two of the main missions of ISEC are to increase exposure and education to the concept of a Space Elevator. We need to dramatically increase the amount of exposure that the Space Elevator receives around the world and we need to help educate the public on what a Space Elevator is and what promises it holds for the world. This newsletter is just one example of how ISEC works to get out information about what is going on throughout the community. We are now taking another step with the introduction of the ISEC Podcast.

The initial series of shows is going to focus on explaining exactly what our Space Elevator vision is to ensure that there is a common point of reference when discussing the project. Once that series is complete the show will move into much more wide ranging topics. From updates on the Space Elevator Challenges to interviews with prominent individuals in the community, the podcast will be your source for news, information and discussion.

Each show will be about 10 to 15 minutes long and thus will be relatively isolated in scope. Though the Space Elevator can be a relatively daunting concept, our goal is to break everything down into simple to understand concepts and interesting content.

You can now find the show on iTunes under ISEC Podcast or on the ISEC website. Be sure to log on and download it today.
EuroSpaceward 2010 Conference

Klettner, Yakobson & ShanovThe EuroSpaceward Conference held last month in Luxembourg was a huge success. There were several items on the agenda; current carbon nanotube (CNT) research, general advancements towards the development of a space elevator and the future visions for the Space Elevator community.

EuroSpaceward Executive Director Markus Klettner opened the conference with focus on the development of CNTs with an emphasis on high strength macroscopic fibers. Numerous impressive presentations were given by professors from around the world. Professor Vesselin Shanov from the University of Cincinnati presented on the work being done at UC's Nanoworld research laboratory and their record breaking achievement of growing CNT arrays of 2.2 cm in length. Two speakers, including Dr. Boris Yakobson, from Rice University discussed several phenomena of carbon nanotubes that they have found through computational modeling such as ways to optimize the growth of CNT arrays and the self-healing properties of CNTs.

Dr. Philippe Poulin of Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal gave a talk on the optimization of spinning CNT composite fibers. His team has developed impressive laboratory spinning and spooling facilities for CNTs. This led into a speech by Matthew James from the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge who announced a partnership with Plasan, a global leader in armor products. TorTech Nano Fibers Ltd bring us just one step closer to commercially available CNT products.

Matthew James also presented his PhD research on the ability to power the Space Elevator climbers with energy from the tether itself. Though not as efficient as traditional solar cells, the tether covers such a vast distance that, according to James, its photosensitive ability could produce as much as 100 gigajoules per day.

Several important research efforts were also announced at the conference. EuroSpaceward used the event to kick-off EuSEC, Europe's first space elevator competition which will be a climber competition. Ted Semon, president of the International Space Elevator Consortium announced that the ISEC theme for 2011 will be tether strength. In continuing with the focus on tether strength, Dr. Martin Lades, the technical director for EuroSpaceward, announced CLAVIS, a cooperative effort between the two major public laboratories in Luxembourg and several international partners towards the goal of finding an explanation for the halt of CNT growth at the centimeter length.

(Pictured from left to right, Markus Klettner, the Executive Director of EuroSpaceward, Dr. Boris Yakobson of Rice University and Dr. Vesselin Shanov of the University of Cincinnati)
Goodbye 2010...Hello 2011

This past year has been one of great accomplishments for ISEC. We have expanded the reach of the organization and set out a plan for moving into the future. We were able to become substantial sponsors of the Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, WA. For that event we funded the travel of two giants of the Space Elevator Community; Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson.  We handed out our first two "Honorable Mention" awards for the Yuri Artsutanov Prize.

In addition, we are currently in the process of reviewing papers for the first annual ISEC Journal and are nearing publication for the first ISEC Report which is the culmination of the year's focus on Space Debris Mitigation. Our annual theme also allowed us to increase the involvement of the educational community in Space Elevator research with the creation of two prizes, the Artsutanov and Pearson prizes.

Though we accomplished a lot in 2010, 2011 looks even more promising. We will be unveiling a new website shortly as well as an entire series of podcasts. ISEC is planning on changing the structure of our membership to increase funding and bring more benefits to our members.

The reason why it is important to review all that has been done and all that we hope to accomplish is because none of it is possible without our members. Your membership dues help to fund the numerous activities that we participate in around the world. Your involvement and interest allows us to continue to spread the knowledge of what will one day be a world changing creation. Now more than ever the reality of a Space Elevator appears just over the horizon, and with your continued support ISEC will be instrumental in taking us over that horizon.
 Prize Sponsorship

2011 marks the second year that ISEC is holding the annual Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson Prizes for research into the field of space elevators. This year, ISEC is very proud to announce official sponsorship for the two prizes.

Space Elevator Blog logoThe Artsutanov Prize which is open to all entrants and awards $2,500 to the winner, is now being sponsored by the Space Elevator Blog. This Blog which has long been an excellent resource to anyone wanting to keep up to date in the Space Elevator community is taking a huge step to assist ISEC in bringing information to those in search of it.

Leeward Space Foundation LogoThe Leeward Space Foundation is sponsoring the Pearson Prize which is open to all undergraduate level students and provides an award of $1,500. Leeward has long been a partner with the Space Elevator community and has donated valuable resources in the past for the creation of conferences and other activites. This is just one more step that they are taking to help the idea move forward.

Thank you Space Elevator Blog and thank you Leeward Space Foundation!
Corporate Membership

ISEC is proud to welcome a new corporate member for 2011. SouthWest Analytic Network, Inc. is a company based in Paradise Valley Arizona focusing on the innovative approaches to space development.  The president is Dr. Cathy Swan and the chief Engineer is Dr. Peter Swan.  They are the co-authors of Space Elevator Systems Architecture and have been researching space elevators since 1984.  In addition, they are two of the principle authors of the 2010 ISEC Report, Space Elevator Survivability Space Debris Mitigation.

Their membership is a significant step in the path towards the stars as their company is committed to the Space Elevator infrastructure development. ISEC is currently seeking new members who wish to join its corporate ranks. Those who do will receive placement here in the ISEC newsletter as well as the ability to have stories featured in our other media outlets.

For full details on what a corporate membership entails, visit our website and click on Join.
What is ISEC?

ISEC LogoThe International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is the result of a coming-together of leading figures and organizations who have worked long and hard over many years to promote the concept of a Space Elevator.  With organizational members in the United States, Europe and Japan and individual members from around the world, ISEC's goal is nothing less than to get a Space Elevator built.

From our bylaws:

"... ISEC promotes the development, construction and operation of a space elevator as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity ..."

Our plan of action is based on four pillars: Technology, Law, Business, and Outreach:

Each of the pillars is headed by a pillar lead, who functions much like a university's department head. Their job is to start initiatives (projects), pursue collaborations, guide project leads and prospective project leads in pursuing their individual projects, and generally increase the activity level of their pillar.

If you agree that building a Space Elevator should be a priority for all of us and you want to help make this happen, please Join Us!  Benefits include e-newsletters (such as this one), a print version of the ISEC Journal and other items listed on our Join page.

Come and join us and help make the future happen!
Visit ISEC on the Web

Visit our website at  There you can join learn more about what is happening in the Space Elevator community and what is being done to advance the concept of a Space Elevator.  Please consider joining ISEC - we foster research and sponsor Space Elevator-related causes, but to do so takes money.  Your contributions are crucial to our success.  Thank you!

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