August 28, 2004

NOW THIS IS COOL:

Enthusiasts on Friday unveiled an effort to establish an annual competition for space-elevator technologies, taking a page from the playbook for other high-tech contests such as the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

The project, spearheaded by the California-based Spaceward Foundation, would focus on innovations in fields that could open the way for payloads to be lifted into space by light-powered platforms. Such platforms, also known as climbers, would move up and down superstrong ribbons rising as high as 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. . . .

If space elevators could actually be built, the cost of sending payloads into space could be reduced from $10,000 or more per pound (455 grams) to $100 or less — opening up a revolutionary route to the final frontier. Like the X Prize for private spaceflight, Elevator:2010 is aimed at jump-starting the revolution.

I was involved in the early X-Prize work, and I have to say that it has exceeded my hopes.