>Ben and Metzada Shelef                                                                   January 18
>The Space Elevator - Climbing the Sky
>Ben Shelef is Founder and Metzada (Meekk) Shelef is President of The
>Spaceward Foundation, a public-funds nonprofit organization dedicated
>to furthering space science and technology in the public mindshare and in
>educational curriculums.
>The dream of a Space Elevator is a monumental one. A vision that will not
>only further space exploration and knowledge, but has the potential to shape
>the existential future of the human race for centuries to come. For the first time
>since it was initially conceived, this dream is now within our reach.  The
>Spaceward Foundation has joined the massive construction effort, adding
>energy, resources and new initiatives to the ever-growing number of
>organizations, companies, websites and enthusiasts focused on the
>technical, political and economic development of the Space Elevator.
>Ben and Metzada will describe the history and basic principle of the Space
>Elevator, survey the active efforts in the field today and state why they believe
>that the set of technologies behind the infinite promise of the Space Elevator
>can be demonstrated, or proven infeasible, within a 5 year time-frame.

Ben began his talk by pointing out that the drawback of rocket
technology is that only a small percentage of the vehicle that leaves
the earth is the payload that reaches orbit. For a better answer he
directed our attention to a 1960 Russian article by Yu Artsinov, that
proposed a "space elevator." He explained that the idea had been
fleshed out since by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1979 book, The Fountains
Of Paradise. The basic idea is to put a satellite in geostationary orbit
and run a wire from there to the earth, and run crawlers up and down
it as necessary.

More recently, Dr. Brad Edwards got a grant from NASA to see if
there was a way to implement this idea. He figured out that carbon
nanotube composites can be designed that have the strength and light
weight necessary to make up a 25,000 mile ribbon from the surface
of the earth to geostationary orbit. The "ribbon" would be about a
yard wide and thinner than a sheet of paper, so that micro meteorite
impacts would have minimal effects on its strength.

One of the drawbacks of rockets is that they have to carry all of their
fuel with them from the launch pad to the end of the mission. The
space elevator gets around this need by having the elevator shuttle
have solar collectors and the ground station has a huge laser array
that pumps out power for it at 10x the power density of sunlight. This
delivers enough power to turn electric motors to crawl the shuttle up
the ribbon at about 200 MPH, getting to geostationary orbit in a week
from ground level.

At this point the basic concept has been fleshed out. The Spaceward
Foundation is working to build awareness of the concept, and is moving
towards a practical implementation with design competitions. They
have announced a Climber Competition to happen in June 2005, and
a Tether Competition. For details on those, please visit:


For more information please visit:


Tian Harter

P.S. The following note was forwarded to me a couple of days later:

Hi Folks!
It's been a pleasure presenting for you.
The grilling was a bit more intense than usual..  I ran out of time and missed the punch-line...
Information on part of what we're doing about the Space Elevator here in the bay area is at http://www.elevator2010.org.
In addition, we're looking to give this presentation (or a more technical one) in as many forums as possible.
Workplace seminars, universities, etc. If you have anything in mind, please let me know.

For Elevator:2010, we're also looking for volunteers - both for the university based competitions and for the
k-12 program  - if you're interested, please contact Falline -
Thanks again for your time last week -
  Ben Shelef
  The Spaceward Foundation