Canadian engineering students design a space elevator
Engineering students from the University of Saskatchewan and from the University of British Columbia came first and...
Engineering students from the University of Saskatchewan and from the University of British Columbia came first and second respectively in a competition in the U.S. to design a space elevator.
The first ever Space Elevator Games were held in California in October. The challenge was to make a device that pulls itself up 50 metres along a thin ribbon of light at a speed of one metre per second. They used an earth-bound 10,000 watt searchlight as the power source.
NASA is interested in the experiment, as one of several Centennial Challenges it has set to solve space-related engineering problems.
Both the Canadian teams used solar cells to help them harness the energy in the light beam. Though they were the most successful teams, neither managed to achieve the distance goal, so they did not win the $50,000 first prize. The University of Saskatchewan’s climbing device, which was covered with a square metre of solar arrays, managed to climb 12 metres. The UBC team managed to climb seven metres.
In a related challenge set by DARPA, the U.S. agency that deals with advanced military research, Stanford University students successfully redesigned a Volkswagen car to drive itself through a 211-kilometre course across the Nevada desert.