The 2009 Space Elevator Games ran from November 4-6, and there is a winner! LaserMotive from Seattle took home the Level 1 prize of $900,000. Three teams competed for the $1.1 million and $900,000 prizes in this year’s event: LaserMotive from Seattle, the Kansas City Space Pirates, and the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (USST).
As we covered last week, on the very first day of the event LaserMotive successfully climbed the 1km (.6mile) ribbon “racetrack” at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base near Mojave, California. LaserMotive is the first team that has qualified for a prize in the 5 years the games have run. They made a successful climb of the 1km ribbon at 4m/s (13ft/s), far beyond the 2m/s requirement for the Level 1 prize. LaserMotive made 4 runs of above 2m/s (6.6ft/s), an impressive showing considering that this is the first time a team has made the 1km mark, let alone qualify for one of the prizes! Their top time of 3-minutes 47-seconds was on Thursday.
The Kansas City Space Pirates made several climbs, none of which reached the top of the cable. Though their lasing system is the most powerful, they had trouble tracking the climber throughout the competition and were unable to get it up past about the halfway point.
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USST didn’t have much luck this time around. Their climber had a number of issues, and during many of their climbing windows it was completely grounded.
The Level 2 prize of $1.1 million still remains unclaimed. This will go to the team that can climb 1km at 5m/s (16.5 ft/s) or more at the next Power Beaming Challenge. LaserMotive made an unsuccessful attempt to lighten their climber and get it to the 5m/s mark on the last day of the games. Maybe next year?
The Space Elevator Games/Power Beaming Challenge are part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, which provides monetary incentives for private companies to develop technologies in space-related fields. Just last week, the program handed out $1.5 million for the The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X-Prize challenge. The Space Elevator Games are run by the Spaceward Foundation.
Check back with us here at Universe Today next year to see if anyone nabs the big prize!