Elevator:2010 was an inducement prize contest with the purpose of developing space elevator and space elevator-related technologies. Elevator:2010 organized annual competitions for climbers, ribbons and power-beaming systems, and was operated by a partnership between Spaceward Foundation and the NASA Centennial Challenges.


A conceptual image of a future space elevator.

On March 23, 2005 NASA's Centennial Challenges program announced a partnership with the Spaceward Foundation regarding Elevator:2010, to raise the amounts of monetary prizes and to get more teams involved in the competitions.[1] The partnership was not renewed after its initial 5-year term.[2]

There were two (out of an intended seven) competitions of the NASA Centennial Challenges which fell under the Elevator:2010 banner: The Tether Challenge and the Beam Power Challenge. There were also the two original competitions.

Tether Challenge

This competition presented the challenge of constructing super-strong tethers, a crucial component of a space elevator.[3] The 2005 contest was to award US$50,000 to the team which constructed the strongest tether, with contests in future years requiring that each winner outperform that of the previous year by 50%. No competing tether surpassed the commercial off-the-shelf baseline and the prize was increased to $200,000 in 2006.

Of the four teams competing, three were disqualified for not following length rules—one of these cases by a fraction of a millimeter. Ultimately, the 'House Tether' won against the remaining team. The 'House Tether' is composed of Zylon fiber and M77 adhesive.[4] It was stronger than the machine used to test the tether itself: it began to fail at 1,600 pounds-force (7,100 N), forcing the test to be called off.[citation needed]

Beam Power Challenge

The Beam Power Challenge was a competition to build a wirelessly-powered ribbon-climbing robot. The contest involves having the robot raise a specified payload to a specific height within a limited period of time. The first competition in 2005 would have awarded US$50,000, US$20,000, and US$10,000 to the three best-performing teams meeting the minimum benchmark of 1 metre per second (3.3 ft/s). However no team met the minimum standard in 2005.

In 2006 the prize for first place increased to $150,000 with the goal of climbing 50 meters in under 1 minute. It was held October 20–21, 2006 at the Las Cruces International Airport at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup. 13 teams entered the competition. Only one team, University of Saskatchewan, was able to climb the tether in under 1 minute, reaching the top in 58 s.[citation needed]

The Challenge had $500,000 in prize money for the 2007 competition.[citation needed]

At the 2009 Challenge, on November 6, 2009, LaserMotive successfully used lasers to drive a 4.8 kg (11 lb) device up a 900 m (2,950 ft) cable suspended from a helicopter.[5][6] Energy is transmitted to the climber using a high-power infrared beam.[7] LaserMotive's entry, which was the only climber to top the cable, reached an average speed of 13 km/h (8.1 mph) and earned a $900,000 prize. This marked both a performance record, and the first award of a cash prize at the Challenge.[6]

LaserMotive won the US$900,000 prize for the Level 1 power beaming prize in 2009 with the achievement of 2 metres per second (6.6 ft/s) climber speed over a sub-kilometer climb. The Level 2 power beaming prize, for a 5 metres per second (16 ft/s) climb, remains available for future competitions.[8]

Future competitions

After LaserMotive claimed the US$900,000 prize for the Level 1 power beaming prize in 2009, the Space Elevator games being conducted by Elevator:2010 planned to offer a prize purse for future competitions of US$4,000,000, for both the Power Beaming (Climber) Competition and the Tether Strength Competition.[8]

The Japan Space Elevator Association conducted climbing competitions[9] in August 2013.

See also


  1. ^ "NASA - NASA Announces First Centennial Challenges' Prizes". nasa.gov. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  2. ^ "NASA, the Space Elevator Challenges and the Kansas City Space Pirates". www.spaceelevatorblog. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
  3. ^ "Welcome to Elevator:2010's annual climber competition". spaceward.org. Archived from the original on 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  4. ^ How close is the Space Elevator? How expensive will it be?- Data Point References
  5. ^ "Second Day Results". Space Elevator Games. The Spaceward Foundation. 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  6. ^ a b Moskowitz, Clara (2009-11-06). "Seattle Team Wins $900,000 in Space Elevator Contest". Space.com. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  7. ^ "Main". Blog. LaserMotive. Archived from the original on 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  8. ^ a b "Elevator:2010 - the Space Elevator Challenge". spaceward.org. Archived from the original on 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2011-03-14. The level 1 (2 m/s) challenge was met by team LaserMotive from Seattle, who took home $900,000. The level 2 (5 m/s) challenge remains unclaimed. ...prize money is provided by NASA's Centennial Challenges program—a total of $4,000,000 over the next 5 years
  9. ^ "Main". Blog (in Japanese). JSEA. Retrieved 2013-08-24.

External links

  • Official website
  • The Spaceward Foundation