In 1895, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed to build a space elevator that could reach from Earth into space; it never got off the ground, but in 1957 another Russian – Yuri Artsutanov – came up with a more plausible idea. It wasn’t built either, but now he has a chance to judge a team of Israeli students who are tackling the concept anew.
Artsutanov proposed to build the space elevator from a geostationary satellite base. His would have been anchored to Earth with a cable and a counterweight that would have kept the cable’s center of gravity in sync with the satellite base.
The engineer never did see his idea come to fruition, but now, more than half a century later, Artsutanov has the opportunity to judge a team of students at Israeli’s Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, where the 12th annual Technobrain competition is taking place.
Tasked with building a device that will stand at an 80 degree angle to the ground and climb to a height of 82 feet, the students are not permitted to use any kind of open flame or combustible energy.
“The challenge requires contestants to also slide down from this height while lifting a “space elevator” carrying practical cargo from the other side of the pulley,” according to Israel 21C.
The pulley represents the Space Station’s location, while the mission course is said to emulate the space elevator’s movement.
Taking place on 18 June, 2014, the competition will see three father and son teams – all graduates of Technion – try their hand at perfecting a concept that first originated over a century ago.
We look forward to learning about Artsutanov’s response to the student designs. Hopefully they will make him proud. At the very least, $1,440 and $865 in prizes for the winning designs are up for grabs.
Space elevator image | Shutterstock