Illustration: Alan Chan for IEEE Spectrum
Interested in building your own space elevator?
You know, that motorized climber attached to a 100,000-km long superstrong cable stretching from Earth's surface to a counterweight in space, capable of whisking people and cargo to the heavens.
A student robotics competition is calling participants to do just that. Well, not a full-size elevator, but a small functional prototype. The organizers call it the "Space Elevator, Jr."
The contest, organized by Ahad Nasab, a professor of engineering technology at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, is part of the Earth & Space Conference 2008, to take place 3-5 March 2008 in Long Beach, Calif.
The competition calls for students from high schools and colleges to build a climber able to move up and down a 6-meter long ribbon using power received solely by a light source at the base of the ribbon. Bonus points if it carries a payload all the way to the top. It should be fun!
For all the details, visit the page of the competition: http://www.mtsu.edu/~anasab/spaceelevator.htm