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..."

September 2013
In This Issue
The President's corner
ISEC and NSS join hands...
ISEC Conference Mini-workshop
What is ISEC?
Visit ISEC on the Web
Follow ISEC!
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Dear Friend


ISEC is very pleased to announce its recent affiliation with the National Space Society.  Our two organizations share many common interests and this new relationship should provide both of us with renewed energy in pursuing our mutual goals.  More details about this affiliation, including the MOU signed between the two organizations, are shown later on in this eNewsletter.  


ISEC president Dr. Peter Swan in "The President's corner" discusses, among other things, how ISEC uses its yearly "Themes" to focus its efforts for each year. 


At the recent Space Elevator Conference, several workshops were held to more deeply explore certain aspects of Space Elevator development and operations.  These workshops were held with audience participation and the results of one of them; "Space Elevator Space Operations" are shown later on in this eNewsletter.  Other Conference workshops will be discussed and summarized in future editions of the eNewsletter. 


Also in this issue is an article on the recent Space Elevator Competition (SPEC2013) held by the Japan Space Elevator Association.  And don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook, FOLLOW US on Twitter and enjoy the photos and videos that we've posted on Flickr and YouTube - all under our Social Identity of ISECdotORG.


Thank you! 



The President's corner

The follow-up from this year's conference is keeping us busy.  A summary of the four mini-workshops will be finished in the near future and will be posted on the conference website as well as inside this newsletter. Great discussions and some innovative ideas surfaced.  See the first article on space elevator operations below.

I was very pleased at the interest and inputs from the audience on the 2013 ISEC theme of Tether Climbers.  This topic wound through the conference in many papers, during many discussions, inside its own workshop, and in the draft study report.  It seems that the choice of focusing on a single theme for ISEC across a year has worked well.  This single focus includes the journal CLIMB, a comprehensive study and its report, and drives the focus of the conference.  In addition, general discussions seem to be stronger when focused during a year long set of activities.  Indeed, the 2010 study on Space Debris and the Space Elevator lead to a great study report [copies available on our website].  The 2012 report on space operations will have lasting impact as its concept of "how to" was developed across the infrastructure.  This year's tether climber focus energized the conference and has a great draft report being circulated.  Also, the Board of Directors have selected next years topic:  Space Elevator Architectures and Roadmaps.  Come join us in supporting the study or participating with a paper for CLIMB or at next years conference on this topic.     

"Keep Climbing my Friends!"  Pete Swan
ISEC and NSS join hands...

The National Space Society and the International Space Elevator Consortium signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 15 August 2013.  This understanding between these 501(c)(3) organizations illustrates the strength of ideas and committed volunteers.  Recently the NSS released a "Milestones to Space Settlement," or a roadmap to the future.  The presented vision is:

The National Space Society ("NSS") is a nonprofit educational organization whose Vision is: "People living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity."

This Vision embraces both space as a future second home for humanity and the resources of space (such as the Sun's energy for space-based solar power, extra-terrestrial minerals for raw materials, and low-gravity for manufacturing) being used for the benefit of all of us on the Earth. These two elements of the Vision are intertwined: development of space products and services for the people of Earth will both require human presence in space and will enable and motivate expansion of our species away from the home planet.

The partnership of two visionary organizations should strengthen each other's activities.  As the ISEC has a similar mission, the two organizations should have many common projects and ideas.  

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

Due to their shared interest, as shown by their mission statements and vision, the two organizations, working together, should be able to contribute even more to the widespread economic development of space and the betterment of mankind.
International Space Elevator Conference
Mini-Workshop: Concepts & Issues

(Note: During the recent Space Elevator Conference, several workshops were held, delving more deeply, with audience participation, into specific Space Elevator related topics.  This is a summary of one workshop, Space Elevator Space Operations.)

Space Elevator Space Operations

Champions: Skip Penny and Pete Swan

Initial Presentation: "Tether Climber Operational Phases" - Skip Penny

Goal: To stimulate thoughts and involve the conference attendees on timely topic

Outputs: Summary Report to be posted on ISEC website in 60 days

  1. 30 minute talk on topic, based on paper:  status of topic, past history, future approach, technological challenges [as well as legal and other] etc.
  2. 5 minutes of discussion on handout sheet [stimulation of ideas and areas to discuss]
  3. 10 minutes of brainstorming on topics to discuss
  4. 45 minutes of brainstorming in small groups [broken up along the lines of the selected topics]
  5. 20 minutes of discussions by small groups to large audience on results of brainstorming
  6. 10 minute summary
  7. Champion and helper summarize the results and put on web
Issues: The design of space elevator climbers will require a solid space operations concept developed prior to "kick-off."  As such, the identification of the various processes associated with the ground and space operations will require inputs from diverse sources and experiences.  This mini-workshop will consolidate inputs and summarize the concepts and proposals for operations during the lifetime of a climber.

Topic: Repair of Tethers

Major Points: Several points were emphasized:
  1. Sever is a real problem and requires much future study, especially with the emphasis on recovery from a sever in the lower reaches.
  2. A partially torn tether will need to be identified by both manual and automated methods.  This could be accomplished though IR sensors on each tether climber, or searching the tether by remote means.  
  3. The safety approaches for damaged tethers will vary depending altitude.  
  4. One concept would be a "sliding 3-D printer" that would move the damaged location and then replace, overlay, or fuse the material needed.
  5. Once the damage is identified, the movement of tether climbers over that spot could be limited drastically.  
No answers were expected as this is a serious topic to pursue as the knowledge of the design firms up.

Topic: Down Climbers

Major Points:
  1. The consensus is that there should be dedicated down elevators in addition to the principle mission of vertical lift for profit.  
  2. The return climbers should only come down when they have payloads to carry [multiple folded climbers might be one payload].  The cost to come down [opportunity lost on up carrying climbers is the issue]
  3. The descent of climbers will probably be slower than the ascent as the danger of it getting out of control is high.  The earth's gravity is pulling the climber and significant braking capability and massive heat dissipation.  The concept would be to have a motor using the downward pull to create electricity which could be transmitted to other climbers.  
  4. The parachute is a questionable option.  It will only work in the atmosphere and the tether/parachute coiling might be an issue.  
Topic: Operations with a Strato-station or a High Stage One

Major Points:
  1. Many of the concepts of operations at a high stage one are parallel with the operation of a stratospheric balloon [dirigible] operation.  
  2. The height would probably be at approximately 30 km [maybe higher] and the load would be dependent on the capability of the large balloons to stay at altitude.
  3. One effect that will be difficult is the day/night buoyancy issues due to heating of the atmosphere and more vertical thrust when daytime.  
  4. Solar power for energy seems natural when you are above most of the opaque atmosphere.  
  5. Indeed, the center of mass and flying capabilities will be important during the long periods of operations.
  6. Maintenance issues are real and will probably drive one to two strato-stations to ensure 24/7/365 coverage.  
  7. There could be telescopes on the strato-station for science as well as to look for space debris and help in identifying potential tether threats.  
  8. With the flyability of the stratospheric balloons, the tether can definitely be moved for dynamic motion to avoid space debris.  
  9. High Stage One seems to have a good handle on these issues and looks like a very good stationary platform to work automated machinery to operate the Earth's terminus for tether climbers and other activities.
Topic: Diagnostic Discussions

Team: Larry Bartoszek, Sandee Schaeffer, "Sam" Dalong, Vern McGeorge, Jose Fuentes

Major Points:    Types of diagnostics needed for a tether climber:
  1. During the braking, the heat sensors must look for overheating problems, not only at the source, but as it moves.  This could be bearings, wheel surfaces, ribbon surface, battery/capacitive packages, motors, and especially brakes.  
  2. Cameras should be in many locations as monitors of the action motion and activities.
  3. The ability to center on the ribbon will be crucial.  Many types of sensors could achieve the desired result during high speed climbs, but optical will be principle.  Some of those would be on Non Destructive Inspection methods such as X-ray, gamma ray, light density measurements, and, of course, counting cross bars or other height locator items.  
  4. There could be radar required on-board.
  5. There should be sensors for impacts from space objects and to detect dynamic motion that is unexplained or actual holes in tether.
  6. Radiation sensors are probably required as the issue is real and changeable.
  7. Electrical sensors for current, voltage, capacitance, and stray EMF's.  The sensors should be measuring levels and looking for anomalies such as spacecraft charging.
  8. There should be strain gauges on the high stress items such as the wheels and pressure structure.
  9. GPS can be very valuable for location, speed, and acceleration.
  10. The payload needs environmental sensors to monitor the environment.  When the payload is people, these requirements become serious.
  11. It seems that streaming video is a common request - thus probably a customer need.
A final report from this Workshop will be published in the near future on the ISEC website.

In early August, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) held their annual Space Elevator Challenge, SPEC2013.

JSEA hosts several events each year including SPEC and LASER (Lego bricks Activity and Space Elevator Race).

This year's SPEC was very ambitious, with a balloon supported tether allowing climbs of a full kilometer.

More information about this challenge can be found on the JSEA competition website (if you cannot read Japanese, it is recommended that you use the Google Chrome browser to view it and take advantage of its translation capabilities).

Congratulations to JSEA!

(The picture thumbnail is of one of the teams with their Climber.  Click on it for a larger version or visit the competition website for more pictures and details).
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"

Each year we adopt a theme which we use to focus our activities for that year.  For 2010-2011, our theme was Space Debris Mitigation - Space Elevator Survivability.  For 2011-2012 our theme was Research and thought targeted towards the goal of a 30 MYuri tether.  For 2012-2013, our theme was Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator.  And for 2013-2014, our theme is Architecture & Roadmaps.

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!

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