Love space and science advancements that could put human beings into space? Put your

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by ScienceRocks, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. ScienceRocks

    ScienceRocks Democrat all the way!

    Mar 16, 2010
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    Space Elevator Science - Climb to the Sky - A Tethered Tower by Michael Laine — Kickstarter

    Do you Love space and scientific advancements that could put human beings into space? Put your money where your mouth is!!! Let's make the space elevator a reality!!! Let's help push this fucker over 100k!

    What We’re Doing for this Campaign

    What We'll Do - For as Long as it Takes

    - So what will we do with the money?

    This is not a very expensive experiment; that’s why we chose it first. To push an analogy too far – It’s low-hanging fruit; but it’s the tree we’re after! So it seemed like a good place to start. It is hardware focused and that’s very important to our team. It’s achievable within our current resources of people and time.

    The robot is time consuming and somewhat complicated. There have been advancements in all sorts of relevant technologies in the past five years. Motors are lighter and stronger, batteries perform better, and computing and communications are much much simpler. To put that in perspective, we used to have to build our radios and computer boards from scratch, and hope they worked. Now, we can simply order them from a parts catalog! In contrast, the Tethered Tower balloon test platform has not changed much. She’s still a temperamental little beastie… But so long as the weather cooperates, I’m not anticipating any serious problems with that infrastructure.

    Specifically, we’ll build a robot, and climb a string into the sky. We’ll reach as high as we can, safely, and collect all sorts of data. If we raise more, we’ll do more. If we go beyond our $8000 goal, we can add all sorts of stuff. I’ve detailed that in our Stretch Goals below.

    Long-term, we’ll use results from our first experiment to build a better ‘bot; a better Tethered Tower. And we’ll climb higher. We will do this until we reach the limit of what can be achieved here on Earth: ~ 30 kilometers/100,000ft. Once we’ve got altitude, we’ll combine that with long-term endurance, starting with 6 hours, then 24, then a week, a month, a year, and then finally 2 years. Once we’ve got that, we’ll make the top “human rated” because our robot Lifters will need a tested life support system, or else what’s the point of all this…?

    Are we going to do all that on $8000 from this Kickstarter campaign? No. But I include it here because I want you to see where we’re going. This stepped approach was laid out in our technical roadmap in 2004 and we stand by it. If we only reach our $8000 goal, then we’ll only do one part of this plan. If we raise more, we’ll do more. See our Stretch Goals.

    Stretch Goals

    •More Sensors: Telemetry is the key to climbing higher. Knowing the kinds of conditions our little-‘bot-that-could’ is climbing through, is vital. At the $8,000 level, that is a bare-bones system. If we stretch to $20k, then we can install a much improved sensor suite. Sensors will likely include things like GPS, a full package of weather monitors like temperature, wind, humidity, and placement of sensors on vital elements of the robot – wheels, motors, Ribbon guides. And we’ll improve the communications network, too. This might seem pretty dull, and an uninspired first “stretch”, but it is essential knowledge if we want to climb farther.

    •Higher: With the improved sensors, we’ll have a better handle on the environmental factors we are facing. With that knowledge – we’ll climb higher. It will depend on the results of the first test, and what the sensors tell us, but I presume that we should be able to climb to at least 3-5km.
    •Web Video: I’m especially excited about this part. I think we can provide a live video feed from the ‘bots-eye-view’! Take a trip with us – from the comfort of your computer monitor – as we break new ground. Imagine the view from 3-5km high. Is that much different from being in an airplane? Yup. 360 degree visibility.

    •Higher: This will require a new robot. If we surpass the 3-5km mark we’re in unknown territory. Exciting right? We’ll need thermal protections, interior heating, and a different communications configuration. Something’s bound to break. We know our balloons are not made for this, so we’ll have to figure something out. We call that ‘science’.
    •Longer: (Subject to FAA approvals) We’ll aim for “longer”. Honestly I can’t really tell you what that means; not until we run the first test. But whatever we get for the first one, we’ll try to double that. It will probably be for just 6-12 hours. We’ve stayed up as long as 60 days, but that was at a stable 200ft. It’s a completely different problem when it’s at higher altitudes.
    •Web-Controlled Camera: Remember the camera? How about an upgrade? What about a web-controlled Pan/Zoom/Tilt, that our community of supporters can manipulate?

    •Even Higher: What does this mean? I have no idea. I can’t even guess. But at this point, we’re transitioning the problem of ‘altitude’ to that of ‘endurance’. It’s a trade-off. While altitude is more important for the robot and the end-goal of the Space Elevator, endurance is more important for the life-saving applications of Tethered Towers.
    •Even Longer: Before our company crashed, we were in talks with the FAA to redefine what a “tower” meant… If we’re aloft for very long, we’ll have to re-open those conversations. You see, a normal tower is a rigid structure, and they are clearly labeled for pilots. They stay in one place… And there is a column of restricted airspace. However our Tethered Towers are flexible. The move with wind... We need to cordon off a ‘bubble’ of airspace, instead of a column. If we hit the 24 hour mark, we’ll need blinking lights and radio equipment to warn aircraft. It would be ‘bad’ if a plane flew into it. That’s why we get approvals from the FAA, Air Force and Navy for an experimental system. They keep our skies clear.

    •Series: At this point, it stops being about a single experiment, and becomes a complete series of independent experiments – each with their own goals and achievements. At this point, LiftPort Group is back in business for real; doing what we should be doing – building an Elevator to Space. At this level, everything changes. We transform from being an ad hoc collection of volunteers with a vision – into a cohesive team with a plan. The series will be a set of experiments along the continuum of altitude and endurance. Kickstarter enforces a minimum threshold for a project, because of its ‘all or nothing’ model. And we can absolutely run our initial experiment for the amount we budgeted. But this is really the target I want to hit. If we ‘only’ hit $8001, then we are going to remain a ‘hobby’ team. If we can hit this number, then LiftPort is a “…before this decade is out…” Lunar Elevator company!

    •Edge of Space: It’s a misnomer that I’m reluctant to extend, but the limit of balloon technology is about 20 miles high, whereas the ‘edge of space’ is about 60 miles. For whatever reason several balloon experiments talk about reaching the ‘edge of space’. I disagree with the terminology, but bow to convention. However you define it, we’ll reach for the practical limits and aim for ~100,000ft (30km). We’ll stay there as long as we can. We’ll have our webcam running and you should be able to see the blackness of space, perhaps some stars, the curve of the Earth, and a helluva view – straight down. We’ll have to do this somewhere off the East coast; perhaps on a boat. (Winds blow from West to East in America). That way the Tethered Tower is out over the ocean, away from air traffic. We’ll keep this system in place as long as we can… and we’ll test it to its literal breaking point. We’ll do our best to recover the system, but it’s unlikely.

    •Life Support: Look, eventually we’re going to space… to the Moon. It would probably be a good idea if we had some basic understanding of what it takes to keep a person alive, right? O.k., that’s not going to happen on $500k, but we can do basic tests like plants and such. (No, PETA folks, we’re not sending up a kitten or monkey to freeze to death.) Since cold and oxygen will be our biggest problems we’ll want to ensure that we have lots of sensors, heaters, and thermal insulation. Perhaps we’ll test this on some tropical flowers that will wilt/freeze if we get this stuff wrong.

    •Feasibility Study: Obviously, we’re pretty sure this plan of ours is ‘feasible’. But there is a lot that we don’t yet know. I spent more than a decade working on the Space Elevator, but we’ve only been working on the Lunar system for about 10 months… I’m often quoted as saying: “We don’t even have all the questions, yet, let alone all the answers.” If that is true of Earth’s Elevator, it is especially true with the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure. To that end, we need to gather (back together) a group of some of the smartest folks I’ve ever encountered – the team of world-class experts that form the core of the Elevator community. We need to assign problems, and give them time to work on this stuff. At the end of a year, we’ll finish with a set of three deliverables:
    • Go/No Go Decision – Build it or don’t build it (there is no ‘try’!)
    • Library – ~500 Independent Research Projects, and ~1500 Technical Documents reviewed and assembled. This is the documentation, and results of the questions we need to answer - before we proceed with the Lunar Elevator.
    • Path Forward – Specific Plan on how to build the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure or a Detailed Analysis on how to get to the point where it’s possible – if there is still required technology development.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012

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