NASA is sponsoring two competitions that
involve technology related to space elevators.
Strength Challenge offers prizes up
to $1.1M for material that demonstrates
greater pulling strength than the best generally
available commercial ribbon. The Power
Beaming Challenge involves a "climber"
machine that must crawl up a ribbon via
power transmitted from the ground via spotlight,
laser, or microwave. A prize of $1.1M will
go to the team whose climber traverses up
and down the tether in the fastest time
(but better than a preset minimum).
Foundation manages the competitions
and they held events in 2005,
No prizes have been awarded yet, though
in 2006 and 2007 a team came very close
to winning the power beaming contests.
Though the exact dates and place ot the
Space Elevator Games have not been finalized,
the event is expected to take place towards
the end of April at the Kennedy Space Center.
In the previous events the tether was suspended
from a crane, but this year it will be suspended
from a helicopter hovering 1 kilometer above
the ground. (A balloon had been considered
for this but it was found that a helicopter
would do just fine.) Several of the climber
teams have announced they that will use
high power lasers loaned to them by commercial