August 27, 2012

Lunar Space Elevator Kickstarter is over $46,000 and could get over $100,000 for 5 kilometer climbing experiments

Lunar Space Elevator Kickstarter is over five times its original $8000 fundraising goal. The Lunar space elevator kickstarter is over $46,000 and still increasing. The Kickstarter will run until September 13, 2012.

They need to complete a 1-year Feasibility Study, beginning next year. That will cost $3 Million.

At $8000, they wanted to :
* Build a robot that can climb 2 kilometers straight up.
* Build a test platform of high-altitude balloons - tethered to the ground.
* Our Robot (which you can NAME) will climb the test platform – and set a world record.
* Let the world know that we didn’t quit, give up, or fail… we just had to ‘pause’ for a while.
* Rebuild our connection with the global community of supporters.
* Raise a little money to cover the cost of this specific experiment.

Different Fund Raising Levels in Brief

$20,000 - better sensors
$30,000 - at least 3 to 5 kilometer
$50,000 - new robot and at least 3 to 5 kilometer
$75,000 - transition from altitude to endurance
$100,000 - back in business for real
$250,000 - try for to climb to the limit of balloon technology , about 20 miles / 30 kilometers
$500,000 - tests with plants and animals at 30 kilometers
$3,000,000 - Full feasibility study and tests



Again, the link to the Lunar Space Elevator Kickstarter is here and in the first line of this article.



Stretch Goals

$20,000 - better sensors

More Sensors: Telemetry is the key to climbing higher. Knowing the kinds of conditions our little-‘bot-that-could’ is climbing through, is vital. At the $8,000 level, that is a bare-bones system. If we stretch to $20k, then we can install a much improved sensor suite. Sensors will likely include things like GPS, a full package of weather monitors like temperature, wind, humidity, and placement of sensors on vital elements of the robot – wheels, motors, Ribbon guides. And we’ll improve the communications network, too. This might seem pretty dull, and an uninspired first “stretch”, but it is essential knowledge if we want to climb farther.

$30,000 - at least 3 to 5 kilometer

Higher: With the improved sensors, we’ll have a better handle on the environmental factors we are facing. With that knowledge – we’ll climb higher. It will depend on the results of the first test, and what the sensors tell us, but I presume that we should be able to climb to at least 3-5km.

Web Video: I’m especially excited about this part. I think we can provide a live video feed from the ‘bots-eye-view’! Take a trip with us – from the comfort of your computer monitor – as we break new ground. Imagine the view from 3-5km high. Is that much different from being in an airplane? Yup. 360 degree visibility.

$50,000 - new robot and at least 3 to 5 kilometer

Higher: This will require a new robot. If we surpass the 3-5km mark we’re in unknown territory. Exciting right? We’ll need thermal protections, interior heating, and a different communications configuration. Something’s bound to break. We know our balloons are not made for this, so we’ll have to figure something out. We call that ‘science’.

Longer: (Subject to FAA approvals) We’ll aim for “longer”. Honestly I can’t really tell you what that means; not until we run the first test. But whatever we get for the first one, we’ll try to double that. It will probably be for just 6-12 hours. We’ve stayed up as long as 60 days, but that was at a stable 200ft. It’s a completely different problem when it’s at higher altitudes.
Web-Controlled Camera: Remember the camera? How about an upgrade? What about a web-controlled Pan/Zoom/Tilt, that our community of supporters can manipulate?

$75,000 - transition from altitude to endurance

Even Higher: What does this mean? I have no idea. I can’t even guess. But at this point, we’re transitioning the problem of ‘altitude’ to that of ‘endurance’. It’s a trade-off. While altitude is more important for the robot and the end-goal of the Space Elevator, endurance is more important for the life-saving applications of Tethered Towers.

Even Longer: Before our company crashed, we were in talks with the FAA to redefine what a “tower” meant… If we’re aloft for very long, we’ll have to re-open those conversations. You see, a normal tower is a rigid structure, and they are clearly labeled for pilots. They stay in one place… And there is a column of restricted airspace. However our Tethered Towers are flexible. The move with wind... We need to cordon off a ‘bubble’ of airspace, instead of a column. If we hit the 24 hour mark, we’ll need blinking lights and radio equipment to warn aircraft. It would be ‘bad’ if a plane flew into it. That’s why we get approvals from the FAA, Air Force and Navy for an experimental system. They keep our skies clear.

$100,000 - back in business for real

Series: At this point, it stops being about a single experiment, and becomes a complete series of independent experiments – each with their own goals and achievements. At this point, LiftPort Group is back in business for real; doing what we should be doing – building an Elevator to Space. At this level, everything changes. We transform from being an ad hoc collection of volunteers with a vision – into a cohesive team with a plan. The series will be a set of experiments along the continuum of altitude and endurance. Kickstarter enforces a minimum threshold for a project, because of its ‘all or nothing’ model. And we can absolutely run our initial experiment for the amount we budgeted. But this is really the target I want to hit. If we ‘only’ hit $8001, then we are going to remain a ‘hobby’ team. If we can hit this number, then LiftPort is a “…before this decade is out…” Lunar Elevator company!

$250,000 - try for to climb to the limit of balloon technology , about 20 miles / 30 kilometers

Edge of Space: It’s a misnomer that I’m reluctant to extend, but the limit of balloon technology is about 20 miles high, whereas the ‘edge of space’ is about 60 miles. For whatever reason several balloon experiments talk about reaching the ‘edge of space’. I disagree with the terminology, but bow to convention. However you define it, we’ll reach for the practical limits and aim for ~100,000ft (30km). We’ll stay there as long as we can. We’ll have our webcam running and you should be able to see the blackness of space, perhaps some stars, the curve of the Earth, and a helluva view – straight down. We’ll have to do this somewhere off the East coast; perhaps on a boat. (Winds blow from West to East in America). That way the Tethered Tower is out over the ocean, away from air traffic. We’ll keep this system in place as long as we can… and we’ll test it to its literal breaking point. We’ll do our best to recover the system, but it’s unlikely.

$500,000 - tests with plants and animals at 30 kilometers

Life Support: Look, eventually we’re going to space… to the Moon. It would probably be a good idea if we had some basic understanding of what it takes to keep a person alive, right? O.k., that’s not going to happen on $500k, but we can do basic tests like plants and such. (No, PETA folks, we’re not sending up a kitten or monkey to freeze to death.) Since cold and oxygen will be our biggest problems we’ll want to ensure that we have lots of sensors, heaters, and thermal insulation. Perhaps we’ll test this on some tropical flowers that will wilt/freeze if we get this stuff wrong.

$3,000,000 - Full feasibility study and tests

Feasibility Study: Obviously, we’re pretty sure this plan of ours is ‘feasible’. But there is a lot that we don’t yet know. I spent more than a decade working on the Space Elevator, but we’ve only been working on the Lunar system for about 10 months… I’m often quoted as saying: “We don’t even have all the questions, yet, let alone all the answers.” If that is true of Earth’s Elevator, it is especially true with the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure. To that end, we need to gather (back together) a group of some of the smartest folks I’ve ever encountered – the team of world-class experts that form the core of the Elevator community. We need to assign problems, and give them time to work on this stuff. At the end of a year, we’ll finish with a set of three deliverables:






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