Robotics contest calls for students to build their own space elevator

space_elevator.jpg

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

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