UBC Space Elevator Team Unveils Latest Prototype

23 October 2006

A team of UBC engineering and science students unveiled the latest prototype of their space elevator robot, set to compete in the 2006 NASA Beam Power Challenge.

Awarded most likely to win in 2006 by judges in last year's inaugural competition, UBC Snowstar has been featured in The New York Times and on CNN. They will compete with more than 10 international teams for the US $150,000 grand prize and an opportunity to revolutionize space elevator technology.

Held this year in conjunction with the X-Prize Cup in New Mexico on Oct. 20-21, NASA challenges entrants to design and build a space elevator ""climber"" capable of lifting a payload 200 feet (60 metres) straight up a cable using only power “beamed” from a remote source. Climbers must reach a minimum speed of one metre per second to qualify.

""Currently, the cost of launching a space shuttle is so high partly due to the amount of fuel it must carry in order to propel itself into space,"" says Snowstar team captain Steve Jones. ""Using beam or solar power to remotely fuel space elevators could be the key to eventually allow scientists to transport equipment into orbit, some 36,000 kilometres from earth, at much lower cost.""

UBC Snowstar has also fabricated a one-metre long tether to enter the NASA Tether Strength Challenge. Weighing only two grams, the ribbon loop is capable of carrying more than 1,000 lbs (453.6kg) in weight.

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