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..."

November 2013
In This Issue
The President's corner
Electronic version of CLIMB Volume 2 now available
Conference Mini-workshop - Balloon Tethers
The 2014 Space Elevator Conference
ISEC and NSS join hands...
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Dear Friend,


Welcome to the November, 2013 edition of the ISEC eNewsletter.

In this issue, ISEC President Dr. Peter Swan, in his President's Corner column, talks about Science Fiction and the Space Elevator and how Science Fiction so often precedes actual scientific invention.

An article summarizing the third of four workshops, held at the recent ISEC Space Elevator conference, is also in this eNewsletter along with an announcement concerning Volume 2 of CLIMB.

Finally, there are reminders about the dates, already set, for the 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conference and ISEC's recent affiliation with the National Space Society.


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

It is really amazing that we are looking at the reality and feasibility of space elevators.  This note will focus on one aspect that we tend to stay away from as it would distract from reality:  Science Fiction.  However, I was recently reminded of a site on the web that listed the space elevator in fiction. We all know that science fiction leads science, which leads engineering, which results in achievable projects and infrastructures.  In this case we have a plethora of examples.  On the website there are 51 titles under "novels and fairy tales."  We all know "Fountains of Paradise" and the Mars Trilogy; however, there is so much more. In addition there are listing under comics, anime, games, movies and TV shows.  Our history committee is looking at the relationship between science fiction and our reality.  This task should be exciting, and hopefully, lead us towards a "real" infrastructure supporting humanities movement off-planet.

"Keep Climbing my Friends!"  Pete Swan
Electronic version of CLIMB Volume 2 now available

CLIMB, the only Journal devoted solely to the Space Elevator, is a publication of ISEC.  The print edition of CLIMB - Volume 2 was released a few months ago and is available at

The electronic version of Volume 2 is now available from the ISEC store.  This edition contains several peer-reviewed articles and also additional material that we believe will be of great interest to the reader.  The price is only $1.99 so it's a bargain!  And, if you don't have Volume 1 of CLIMB, the electronic version of this issue is also available for $1.99.

Visit the ISEC store today and get your copy - happy reading!
International Space Elevator Conference Mini-Workshop: 

(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.)

Free-Flying Balloon Experiment

Champion: Bryan Laubscher

Initial Presentation: "Planning and Executing Experiments to Push Space Elevator Knowledge" - Bryan Laubscher

Goal: To begin identifying and building teams that will perform a series of balloon-borne experiments to further the understanding of elements for the Space Elevator system.

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

  1. 30 minute major talk on topic - status of topic, past history, future approach, technological, legal and other challenges.
  2. 30 minutes of discussion to find the first team leaders
  3. 30 minutes of brainstorming in small teams [breakup along the lines of the teams identified to be discussed]
  4. 25 minutes of discussions by small groups to large audience on results of brainstorming
  5. 5 minute summary
  6. Champion and helper will summarize the results and put online
  7. Issues:    Parallel activities are keeping the idea of a space elevator alive and energized.  This free-flowing discussion will focus on a near term set of experiments that will simulate the tether climber on a tether hung at high altitude by balloons.  This will be an early demonstration of the approach for both a tether and climber design.  
Mini Workshop Description:    The NASA sponsored, Spaceward-led Space Elevator Games produced tremendous progress in the Power Beaming Challenge segment of the games. In one year, one team went from using the stage light supplied by Spaceward to developing a 2-kilowatt laser! In the end, teams were using 9-kilowatt lasers, and climbing 1 kilometer at high speed.  Odysseus Technologies, LLC is looking to lead the space elevator community in a series of balloon-borne experiments. These experiments will:
  1. Develop technologies to further understand elements of Space Elevator systems
  2. Involve students from elementary through college in various and diverse teams
  3. Involve the Space Elevator community as leaders and participants of these projects
  4. Involve the community and businesses as participants, leaders and sponsors
  5. Further education about the Space Elevator and its future promise
  6. Have some fun!
The basic approach is to begin with battery-powered climbers, ascending a short tether suspended from a balloon that is rising through the atmosphere. Thus climbers can be developed that operate throughout the broad temperature and pressure range experienced during ascent. A progression from battery power through solar to beamed power will challenge climber engineering as well as power beaming technology. In the end:
  1. Space Elevator technologies will be further developed,
  2. Many students will have participated in near space experiments and will expect more from space in their futures and
  3. The Space Elevator community will encompass many more groups, communities and businesses.
Topic: Diagnostics

Team: Bryan Laubscher, Caanan Martin, Laurie Reynolds, Sandee Schaffer,         Lynessa Schaffer

Major Points:
  • The maximum lift for each balloon is 6 lbs.  As such, multiple high altitude weather balloons must be launched to hold the experiment during lift and some maintaining of altitude.  
  • There would be a gondola below the balloons so that the whole apparatus would be reasonable in size and mass.  The gondola and the balloons will return by themselves and would have a "safety" approach to ensure that the whole experiment was done according to the safety rules.  
  • Each of the tethers, andits climbers, would return back to the Earth using its own parachute and safety apparatus.
  • On each tether climber there will be sensors to determine altitude, velocity and some internal items such as voltage.  In addition, the sensors would include rpm, gps, video, etc.  
  • The estimate is that there could be four schools competing on each balloon flight with four tethers hanging down from the gondola.  Trades would be made as to how many competitors vs. carry capacity of each gondola configuration.  
  • At the top of each tether is a video camera for real time broadcast or memory storage.
Topic: Alternative Contests [Demonstration Contests]

Team: Vern McGeorge + others

Major Points:
  • Demo heat dissipation in a vacuum - classroom demo
  • Run a climber on a vertical treadmill - for weeks
  • Add power beaming to #2
  • Demo copper tubing and neodymium magnet
  • metal fatigue demo
  • #2 in a partial vacuum - how partial?
  • Demo standing on an aluminum can - compressive vs. tensile strength.
  • Demonstrate that you cannot straighten a coat hanger or paperclip.
  • Keep the wheels from slipping with different tether materials from
  • Rubber tubing to as slick as you can find.
  • Friction - same normal force - vary surface area
  • Laser tracking at very long ranges.
  • Demo chemical vs. beamed energy
  • Laser power beaming - lower and/or higher power lasers
Topic: General Competition, objectives and other ideas.

Team: Peter Robinson, William

Competition Objectives
  • Technology Development
  • Publicity: must present a professional image and be newsworthy for best image advancement, a named prize with some prestige.
  • Climber design & performance
  • Secondary objectives:
    • Ribbon material development
    • Power transmission
  • Must attract worldwide entries
  • Probably best to have two entry classes, 'Open' and 'Educational/Non-profit'.  There would be a prize for each category (based on climber speed); plus, perhaps an extra prize for best or most innovative engineering.
  • The ribbon used will be the current best guess for an earth elevator ribbon geometry
  • The ribbon height must be long enough to impress; but, not remote from the ground.  News cameras and everyone else will be able to get their own images independent of the competition cameras; and, there will be a tangible physical focus for the event.  Perhaps 1 km?
  • The climber would have a weight limit high enough to enable serious engineering, perhaps 40 kg ( 10% of the 400 kg mass of one element of a 10-climber 4-tonne train).  There will be no size constraint, this will encourage weight-efficient design.  There will need to be some constraint to prevent ribbon damage; otherwise, someone could use spikes to improve grip and I assume we don't want that.  We shouldn't mandate the use of smooth wheels in case someone can develop a 'mountain-climber' or something else we haven't thought of yet.
  • The payload would be a battery pack, 60-100kg ?  These will be supplied by the organizers (maybe electric car battery packs donated by a sponsor ??), the competitors can then concentrate on the mechanical climber design alone.
Topic: Team Teacher

Team: Several in parallel

Major Points:
  • The specifications must be simple for students.
  • There must be monetary expenditure limits
  • Must have motivation to excite both boys and girls into STEM
  • Any approach to climb the tether at low costs will be good.
  • Form an outreach facility to get to the teachers, motivation, information, maybe funding
  • Multiple level approach is important.  If it could be year-after-year, student progression can be shown and influence more follow-on participation.
  • Start at a certain altitude rather than at max, as the battery could run out prior to reaching that last 2 percent of the atmosphere.  80,000 feet vs. 102,000 feet. [can get to 108,000 feet]
Topic: Publicity

Team: Ted Semon, Peggy Alonso, David Appel

Major Points:
  • Find out best way to contact schools + corporations for a robotics competition [clubs or tech organizations]
  • Build social media presence with all the usual suspects
  • Negotiate a Publicity and Public Relations budget
  • Compile list of local media [Seattle/Wash state], tech bloggers, etc. who'll advertise the event.
  • Coordinate local media for teams
  • Create 90 second video descriptions/ selling the event
  • Work with fundraising teams - synergy in advertising
  • SOMEONE in charge
Topic: Ideas for School Activities

Team: Martin

Major Points:
  • Tether engineered strength contest. Use whatever materials you desire to twist, wrap-up, weave the strongest tether you can. Testing and competing is easy, immediate, and exciting as you test to the breaking point within a limited amount of stretch. (ie on half meter of tether is allowed no more than 2mm of stretch between xnm and breaking.) Scoring would be a factor of weight vs. breaking force.
  • Anchor contest. Mechanics and knots.
  • Creative writing contest as to what it might be like book, play, screen play
  • Artwork - Picture of what it might look like. Artistic and/or engineering drawing.
  • Orbital change maneuvers in cars.
  • Various basic science experiments to demonstrate principles of physics.
  • And be international.
Dates set for 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conference

ISEC is very pleased to announce the dates and venue for the 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conference.

The Conference will be held from Friday, August 22nd, 2014 through Sunday, August 24th.

The Venue will the same place we've had the conference the past two years, Seattle's Museum of Flight.  This has turned out to be a wonderful venue for the Conference and we are thrilled to be able to host the Conference here again.

Details will be announced in a future issue of this eNewsletter and will be available on the Space Elevator Conference website.

Mark you calendars now - be there or be square!
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.
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 CLIMB 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)
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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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