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..."

February 2012
In This Issue
CLIMB is here!
2012 ISEC Theme
2012 Space Elevator Conference
IAA Cosmic Study
Changing the Schedule
Call for papers
What is ISEC?
Visit ISEC on the Web
About ISEC
Quick Links
Letter from the President


We at ISEC have been very busy this past several months.  We've published and distributed the first issue of CLIMB, the Space Elevator Journal, and we've now taken over the organizing and sponsorship of the annual Space Elevator Conference (and there are some very exciting announcements about the conference which will be made in the next couple of months).


We've also adopted our theme for 2012; Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator.  This theme is hugely important; activities revolving around this theme will allow ISEC to make realistic projections regarding various Business case scenarios vis-a-vis the Space Elevator. 


ISEC has now also changed up its schedule of events in order to align its activities with the Space Elevator conference.  This will allow us to do a better job with organizing our yearly Themes and the Artsutanov and Pearson Prize competition.


You can read about this and more in this eNewsletter.


As always, we encourage you to become a part of ISEC.  Our goal is to change the concept of a Space Elevator from science-fiction to science-fact.

Please join us and help make this most-magnificent of all engineering projects a reality


Ted Semon


President - ISEC
CLIMB is here! 
The first issue of the ISEC Journal, CLIMB, has finally been released!

Those of you who are current or past members of ISEC
(Professional level membership or higher) should have received your print copy of CLIMB via mail by now (if you have not received it, please email us at climb [at] so we can resolve whatever issue is preventing you from receiving your print copy).  We will have an electronic version of CLIMB ready to distribute soon for all members.

Volume 1, Number 1 of CLIMB contains eight peer-reviewed Papers focused on the Space Elevator and related technologies.  It also contains additional articles, including one by Mr. Roger Gilbertson, relating how he was able to locate the original Yuri Artsutanov article describing the modern-day concept of a Space Elevator and translate it into English.  In addition, both papers that were awarded Honorable Mentions in the 2010 Artsutanov Prize competition are also included.

If you are not a member of ISEC and would like to purchase a copy of CLIMB, please visit the ISEC store.  The print copy is only $14.99 (plus shipping).

We at ISEC are very pleased to have finally published the first issue of CLIMB.  It is the culmination of a 2-year effort on the part of many people and marks yet another step on moving the concept of a Space Elevator from science-fiction towards reality.  It is our goal to publish CLIMB yearly, beginning with the 2012 Space Elevator Conference.
ISEC Banner2012 ISEC Theme 

With the beginning of the new year it is time to announce the 2012 theme for ISEC. Selecting a theme gives us a focus for the year, including defining many activities at our upcoming conference.

For this year, we chose the theme of Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator. The reason we chose this theme is the real and urgent need to develop an engineering-based scenario as to what the operation of a Space Elevator might actually be like.

Searching the 'net, one can find many quotes of "dollars per pound (or kilogram)" or "tens/hundreds of dollars per pound (or kilogram)" as the cost to ship something to space via a Space Elevator, but nowhere can one find justification for those numbers.  Are the numbers accurate?  Is one of the advantages of building a Space Elevator is that it truly allows us to transport cargo into space more cheaply, by orders of magnitude, than rockets?  No one really knows, but we aim to find out.

This study will:
  • Postulate a realistic scenario for all phases and venues of the operation of a Space Elevator.  This includes such things as defining where the Operation centers will be, how they will be staffed, how operation and maintenance procedures will be conducted, etc.
  • Make tradeoffs between different Operation scenarios; for example, do we use one laser to power the Climbers or do we use multiple lasers?  If multiple lasers, how many and where are the located?  Do we even use lasers at all or do we choose another method of powering the Climbers?
  • Answer such questions as "How often should we do tether maintenance?"  "Do we replace the entire tether periodically or only a portion of it?"  "How often?"
For many of these questions, we can only speculate on the solutions, but doing so forces us, hopefully, to define realistic operation parameters that we can then put some costs to.  And with THOSE parameters, we can then make some sort of realistic business case on what market we would need to satisfy to make the Space Elevator a profitable venture.  And, at some future date, we can, perhaps, take such a study to some large conglomerate (or government entity?) and show them that building a Space Elevator is something they should consider doing.

This study will have another advantage too.  If someone wishes to propose an alternative to a specific piece of the Operations scenario, say, someone tells us that our plan to have the lasers (if we have them) and the earth station powered by "diesel-fueled generators" is wrong and should be replaced by "X", they will then have to fully define what "X" is and supply numbers for how we do "X".  We're trying to take the 'hand-waving' out of the system definition and replace it with some educated engineering estimates.

It's a monumental project and is being spearheaded by ISEC Board Member Robert "Skip" Penny.  Skip is the ideal person to lead this project this as his past experience includes such diverse and relevant experiences as being the Operations Controller at the Air Force Satellite Control Network's Vandenberg Tracking Station, being the Base Commander of the New Hampshire Tracking Station and, after entering the private business sector, taking the lead in authoring the CONOPS (Concept of Operations) study for the Iridium Satellite network.

To our knowledge, this is the first time a study like this has been attempted.  The model we come up with will, we hope, be the De facto model adopted by the Space Elevator community and will set the bar for future projects of this type.

This theme will also be the focus of the 2012 ISEC poster.  Normally it would also be the focus of the either or both the Artsutanov and Pearson prizes, but we have elected to cancel those this year as part of ISEC adopting a new schedule.  More on this in the "Changing the schedule" article elsewhere in this eNewsletter.

If you would like to participate in this project, please contact Skip at
skip.penny [at]
2012 Space Elevator Conference 


It gives us great pleasure to announce that the annual conference in Redmond, WA will now be known as the ISEC Space Elevator Conference. With the official recognition of ISEC as a non-profit group, we are now able to fully take on the job of sponsoring the full conference which will be held from 25-27 August 2012.


The 2011 conference was a huge success. For the first time it added a Family Science Fest which brought in 12 youth teams from around the region and had them compete in creating climbers to ascend up a 15 foot ribbon. This ran in tandem with the traditional technical program and the SE 101 sessions that have been held for several years now.


Next year it has already been decided to add an SE 202 session as a way to further engage the public who do not wish to be a part of the technical program yet want more information than has been available in the past.


For more information on the 2012 conference visit the website at

ISEC Banner International Academy of Astronautics sponsors "Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and Challenges of the Space Elevator Concept"

The International Academy of Astronautics, a Paris based organization with about 1000 elected members from around the world, has initiated a Cosmic Study that addresses the feasibility of a space elevator.  Key to this tremendous global activity is a realization that if significant growth in global space enterprises are to occur, access to space MUST become more economical.  Many options have been proposed - re-usable launch vehicles, magnetic levitation, rail guns and gravity alternations.  The authors of this study dream of $100/kg to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) and are working on one alternative.  It is too early in the development cycle to declare success; however, this book will show a path that could succeed.  There are many engineering, social, legal and financial challenges yet to be solved; but, these authors believe there are solutions and understand that the rewards to the global environment would be remarkable.  It is very difficult to predict the future; but, the potential for space elevator success is REAL!

Why Now? Dr. Brad Edwards and Eric Westling published their definitive book in 2003, and showed the world that a space elevator could be built.  Their monumental work was embraced by many around the world and much analysis has been accomplished since then.  There have been many meetings between experts, and their creative thinking addressed critical issues of space elevator development.  This Academy Cosmic Study will be a "ten year look" at the development of ideas and concepts that have strengthened belief in a space elevator.  It can, and should, be built to improve the quality of life of the Earth's population.  Here are some of the innovative ideas that will be addressed in the various chapters.
  • Deployment complexity - a new "bootstrapping" approach [Chapter 8]
  • Atmospheric hazards - "First Stage" (base station raised to 30 km altitude) [Chapter 5]
  • Solar power for Ribbon Riders only option or mix of laser power (first night only) solar power [Chapter 4]
  • Extremely low probability of collision with space debris [Chapter 10]
  • Roadmap to Reality [Chapter 11]
  • Robust Operations Concept [Chapter 13]
  • Dynamics of ribbon, especially at GEO altitude [Chapter 7]
  • A melding of legal regimes (terrestrial, Law of Sea, Aeronautics Law and Space Law) [Chapter 13]
  • An update on the financial approach [Chapter 14]
These advances in innovative approaches to engineering challenges have surfaced because there is a tremendous demand to have $100/kg to GEO and there are many who believe in this approach.  This Study Report will present current thinking on the modern space elevator; and, hopefully, lower the level of risk perception and enhance understanding of a viable approach to an infrastructure for space that would be routine, inexpensive and possible within 20 years.  During the 3rd annual Space Elevator Conference in Washington D.C. George Whitesides  stated:

"Until you build an infrastructure, you are not serious."

In addition, the team believes: "Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.1"

If you would like to help write various chapters, please contact Dr. Swan at
peter [at]

1Quote from Edwin Land.
ISEC Banner Changing the Schedule

In previous years, ISEC operated on a "January - December" schedule.  Late in the calendar year, we would decide on a theme for the next "ISEC Year" and announce it in January or February of the next calendar year - this would then drive most of our activities for that year.  While logical, this caused problems as it occasionally conflicted with the Space Elevator Conference and some of the activities associated with it.  For example, persons interested in submitting papers for the Artsutanov and/or Pearson prizes would then only have a few months to come up with a paper.

We're changing this up because ISEC has now taken ownership of the annual Space Elevator Conference.  Beginning in 2012, we're now going to use the Space Elevator Conference as our "Year-ending" and "Year-beginning" demarcation point.

Transitions are always tricky and this one is no exception.  Here is the new schedule:

August, 2012 - Space Elevator Conference
  • Release 2012 Journal
  • Present draft of 2012 ISEC Report
  • Announce theme for 2013
  • Announce 2013 Artsutanov and Pearson Prize Competition 
December, 2012
  • Release 2012 ISEC Report
January, 2013
  • Release 2013 ISEC Poster
August, 2013 - Space Elevator Conference
  • Release 2013 Journal
  • Present draft of 2013 ISEC Report
  • Announce winners for 2013 Artsutanov and Pearson prizes
  • Announce theme for 2014 
  • Announce 2014 Artsutanov and Pearson Prize Competition  
Thank you for your patience and understanding during this transition.
ISEC Banner Call for Papers

Both the 2012 Issue of the ISEC Journal, CLIMB, and the 2012 Space Elevator Conference, are now issuing a CALL FOR PAPERS.

If you would like to submit your Paper for consideration for one or both of these venues, the schedule is as follows:

  • May 15th - Paper Submission deadline
  • July 1st - Papers approved / rejected
  • July 15th - Authors sign off on final revisions
  • Aug 1st - Print copy ready for distribution
  • Aug 15th - ePub copy ready for distribution
For the Space Elevator Conference:
  • April 20th - Abstracts deadline
  • June 22nd - Draft Papers due
  • July 20th - Final papers due
  • August 17th - Presentations due
If you are an author and would like to submit a Paper for CLIMB, please send an email to climb [at] .  CLIMB encourages rigorous Papers, papers that will be peer-reviewed.  However, CLIMB may also, if conditions warrant, publish a non-peer-reviewed paper in exceptional circumstances. Please visit the CLIMB webpage for more details.

And, if you are an author and would like to submit a presentation for the 2012 Space Elevator Conference, please visit the conference website for details on how and where to submit Abstracts and Papers.
What is ISEC?

ISEC LogoThe International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is the result of a coming-together of many 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.

Our Mission Statement says it all:

"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.

Each year we adopt a theme which we use to focus our activities for that year.  For 2010, our theme was Space Debris Mitigation - Space Elevator Survivability.  For 2011 our theme was Research and thought targeted towards the goal of a 30 MYuri tether.  And for this year, 2012, our theme is Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator.

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 eNewsletters (such as this one), 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!

If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, you can also sign up to be on our mailing list so you don't miss a thing!

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is a registered 501c3 charitable organization (EIN 80-0302896)