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..."

October 2014
In This Issue
The President's Corner
Conference Mini-Workshop
New Space Elevator Competition Announced
Dynamics Simulation Benchmarking
Why Space Elevators?
What is ISEC?
ISEC Corporate Sponsors
Visit ISEC on the Web
Follow ISEC!
Quick Links
Dear Friend,


Welcome to the October, 2014 edition of the ISEC eNewsletter.


In this issue's President's Corner, ISEC President Dr. Peter Swan discusses recent space-elevator related events, announces the 2014/15 ISEC Themes and future directions of the space elevator community.

There is a summary of one of the mini-workshops held at the 2014 ISEC Space Elevator Conference and announcement regarding benchmarking of Space Elevator Simulation tools (and a request for help).

We also learn about a new space elevator competition being planned for 2015 and see the latest installment in the column "Why Space Elevators?"


And please 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 last two-month period was very exciting and active.  First, there was the yearly International Space Elevator Conference where the history committee's oral history program kicked off with an insight into the space community by Leonard David.  In addition, there were three mini-workshops and many excellent presentations.  During the Board Meeting, the 2015 themes were chosen:
  • Status and projection of CNT tensile strength
  • Design Considerations for the Marine Node
Then there was the International Astronautical Congress with three members of the ISEC Board of Directors presenting five papers.  In addition, a new International Academy of Astronautics study entitled "Road to the Space Elevator Era" was initiated.  This will be lead by Akira Tsuchida with Drs. Raitt and Swan supporting.

Please remember, all these activities are achieved through volunteer efforts.  Consider which topic is most exciting to you and jump right in by going to the ISEC website and signing up.

"Keep Climbing my Friends!"  Pete Swan
Conference Mini-Workshop

A summary report of the Marine Node workshop

Developing concepts and proposals for Space Elevator development

Conducted at the International Space Elevator Conference
23 August 2014

Peter A. Swan
October 2014



The preliminary meeting of the ISEC Marine Node team was conducted as a mini-workshop at the 2014 Space Elevator Conference in Seattle.  We had a fantastic discussion on the development of the Marine Node, identifying and exploring multiple topics that are essential for making progress on this key element of a space elevator system.

Marine Node Overview

Dr. Peter Swan, acting as workshop leader, presented the following graphic for the Marine Node.

 The image shows two Marine Nodes, each consisting of a single Floating Operations Platform. The platform in the foreground is shown with a support vessel alongside. The Marine Node may also include an additional Facilities Support Platform. Another key element, the port facilities to support the node, is not shown.

Workshop participants discussed five parameters of proposed locations: ocean currents, sea water status and makeup, sea floor geology and seismology, and weather conditions.  Obviously, these are just some of the parameters of interest.  Attendees also participated in a brainstorming process to develop new concepts and ideas for the Marine Node.

Workshop Goals and Processes

The goal of the mini-workshop was to develop a description of the Marine Node and show how to move towards operations, driving innovations in node design and lowering development risk.
  1. Define the Problem.  The questions presented to the workshop participants included these:
    • Where should the Marine Node be located?
    • How many platforms should be provided for each node?
    • What are the characteristics and requirements of the tether connection?
    • What resources are required to meet the throughput goals of the node?
    • What are the security concerns for the node?
    • What businesses can operate at the node?
  2. Build on the Marine Node baseline.  Over the last few years, there have been multiple solutions proposed to the problem of how to develop a space elevator Earth anchor, including these:
    • Dr. Edwards' baseline: Single tether, middle of Pacific, oil rig, laser powered
    • IAA baseline: Multiple sites with paired tethers and solar-powered climbers
    • Keith Henson's proposal: Marine nodes 8 south of the equator, angled tethers
    • Japanese proposal: Floating tunnel to island-based surface node, 100 MT tethers
  3. The team looked at these proposals and considered the positive and negative aspects of each to enable progress forward.
  4. Make specific proposals.  The following discussion notes are the product that the team developed in the mini-workshop. They comprise three elements:
    • Definition of functional needs to be fulfilled by Marine Node.
    • Presentation of multiple solutions to the needs.
    • Description of the "best" solutions available today or in the future.  This set of descriptions should enable future designers to leverage our comparisons and understand our engineering trades.
Discussion notes

From the teams at separate tables, discussions developed observations, ideas, proposals, and preliminary conclusions in several areas:
  1. Loading due to tether
    1. The tether anchor must counteract an upward force of less than 500 tons.
    2. High Stage One provides 25,000 tons of down-force.
    3. For the case of an off-equator tether (4 to 8 degrees south) the tether will be roughly 20 degrees from vertical, leading to significant transverse forces of about 100 tons.
    4. Fuel for marine thrusters required for station keeping at surface node, but not for high stage one
  2. The logistics stream from tether base to main base of operations
    1. The team considered ports in Hawaii, South America and Panama
    2. Distance from port:
      1. Locating the platforms 200 miles from a major port is considered practical
      2. A position 1,000 km west of Galapagos would be more difficult to support
    3. Food, fuel are significant components of the consumables requirements
    4. several tugs will be needed
    5. Docking facilities will be required at the platforms
  3. Emergency/medical response
    1. For the more distant platform locations, for example 1,000 km west of the Galapagos, only a few helicopters exist with sufficient range to reach major medical facilities.
      1. E.g., the AH-56A, Mi-26, V-22, etc.
    2. Should we rely on Navy carrier groups for medical and evacuation?
    3. Sufficient on-site medical could be developed - it is scalable from existing offshore operations.
  4. Moving the platform in case of storm, orbital debris, etc.
    1. It may be necessary to move the tether platform as much as 50 miles.
    2. A 100-ton tug would be sufficient to provide the necessary movement.
    3. How quickly could the base be moved?  Assuming base is moored to sea floor, a few hours to drop moorings and get underway. A 100-ton tug could move the platform at a speed of 2-3 knots.  With integrated submarine propulsion, a speed of 10 knots may be possible.
    4. Movement available at top of High Stage One is 20 - 30 km.
    5. An off-equator platform could be moved by reeling the tether in or out.
  5. Seismic loading from sea floor.
    1. There is little seismic activity at nominal location and sea floor depth of 8,000 ft.
  6. Additional features and functions
    1. Tether terminus
    2. Tether/FOP Dynamics
    3. Likely new OGVs (Cruise Ships?)
    4. Greater storage capacity (climbers and payloads)
    5. Larger numbers of operations and support personnel
    6. Keep-out zone (safety and security)
    7. Greater movement capability, possibly faster
    8. Larger operations center
    9. More in-depth weather (and ocean) monitoring/sensing
    10. Climber mating equipment
    11. Greater power generation (4 MW for climber)
    12. Power cord handling equipment
    13. Climber refurb facilities
    14. 16 MT per day throughput
    15. 48 MT storage - preparation
    16. 48 MT storage - waiting movement
    17. Climber Repair Modules - storage and preparation
    18. Communications Node
Summary Statement

The mini-workshop defined and discussed many potential problems and solutions for the space elevator Marine Node.  The conference attendees became actively involved in the discussions and ideas flowed freely, achieving progress in the conceptual development of the Marine Node.
New Space Elevator Competition Announced

Details are very sketchy, but the good folks who ran the previous EUSPEC (European Space Elevator Challenge) have announced a new competition for 2015.  From their webpage:

"The next European Space Elevator Challenge will take place in 2015!

We are currently in the planning phase of EUSPEC 2015. Details regarding competition dates, rule book and team registration will be announced shortly on this website and on our Facebook page. Stay tuned!"

Details will be posted on the ISEC website and future issues of this eNewsletter as they become available.
Dynamics Simulation Benchmarking

Following the 2014 conference an ISEC team decided to undertake a benchmark study of Space Elevator dynamic simulation tools at present in use worldwide.  This study will compare analysis results for one or more test cases and help future researchers get started.

To move forward with this work we are requesting your help.  If you have access to a dynamics simulation tool and are able to contribute your time we will ask you to run one or more simulations using your Space Elevator model and supply us with the results : we are not asking for a copy of your model or software.  In return we will supply you with a report comparing your results with those of other analysts, and of course will acknowledge your help when this report is published in 2015 : detailed results in this report will be made anonymous.

If you are interested in assisting with this project please send an email to [email protected] : we will then supply more details and some questions about your analysis tool.  We hope to be able to supply data for the first model run in early 2015.
What is ISEC?

The 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 2009-2010, our theme was Space Debris Mitigation - Space Elevator Survivability.  For 2010-2011 our theme was Research and thought targeted towards the goal of a 30 MYuri tether.  For 2011-2012, our theme was Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator.  For 2012-2013, our theme was Tether Climbers 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)
Thank you, Corporate Sponsors !

The lifeblood of any organization such as ours is the support we receive from our members - and we thank them all.  We especially want to thank our Corporate Sponsors who have contributed funds and resources to ISEC at a higher level.

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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