Unlike Jeremy, I have been working with Michael since February so I have had some time to really get to know and work alongside Michael. I will be writing this blog post again at the end of the summer to see how my answer changes as it most definitely will whilst working on this massive thing. In order to really break my time spent here I am going to split it into 2 sections: The Documentary days, and Intern Life.
The Documentary Days
Well, I’ve already went over our initial meeting, (we met at a coffee shop for our mock interview) there was countless days that we spent with each other filming and getting to know each other that I really valued. Michael was really great about being open with me and answering all of my questions in such a way that I got the whole truth and actually understood it. Not only was I surprised by his openness but it prompted me to ask more and more questions. I learned more during filming sessions with Michael about space than I had ever dreamed of knowing. On top of that we became friends, both of us shared a special place in our hearts for the military and we initially bonded over that. Basically I spent a few weeks with this guy filming him talk about a space elevator for like 6 weeks, but we became friends which made the good grade and the awards feel way better.
Well what can I say, I’m like a coffee boy with a nice fancy title “Business Development Intern”. Jokes aside I am definitely not a coffee boy here which is a wonderful feeling. We work 8 to 5 and have full access to this project, as interns we have been aiding with the business plan as well as taking on our own projects that we created and planned in conjunction with Michael. So far its been really fun, to work in a setting where we as interns are really respected and given true responsibility, something that can’t always be said for different settings.
Cant wait to see what the future holds!
- Griffin Pontius
The Lunar Elevator Project bridges science fiction and science fact because it is non-existent, and even featured in some works of science fiction, yet the technology to build it is available today. Think about that for a little bit. We have what it takes right now to build, housing, transportation and resource utilizing infrastructure on the moon. These are the first steps of colonizing our solar system. Our Earth is approaching the carrying capacity for humans. Some have estimated it to be around 10 billion humans, but regardless of the number, we are approaching it at an exponential rate.
Human history is characterized by colonizing and expanding to the borders of our globe and the next step is to expand past it’s borders. In the 1960’s, the conception of space and the moon changed from a surreal, almost imaginative or magical musing that existed above our heads, to a frontier that could be expanded out into. However, the scale of existence, meaning sizes of things and the distances between them, once you leave earth is so immense that even though this frontier had been uncovered, it remained an endeavor of curiosity and exploration, a realm too big to be utilized for our benefit. But, with this technology, with an elevator on the moon, the resources of near space become actualized into tangible assets, not simply natural phenomena with which we amuse ourselves.
This is going to happen. These resources are not just going to be looked at for the rest of eternity; someone is going to go and get them and this elevator is the best way to make it possible for as many people to access those resources as possible. This is going to happen because that it what humanity does. It sees something new and useful and it goes there and takes it. The only thing that makes this endeavor any different than Columbus and the new world, or any other historical example of colonization, is that this time we aren’t taking it away from anyone; we aren’t taking anyone’s home. Humans have been colonizing the world, killing millions of others under trumped up pretenses of destiny or divinity. This will be the first example of peaceful manifest destiny, one where all of humanity can work together to expand it’s borders into uninhabited areas and do so without hurting anyone.
-Jeremy Wain Hirschberg
I suppose I should introduce myself. My Name is Jeremy Wain Hirschberg. I am currently one of two interns working for Michael Laine at the LiftPort Group. My fellow intern, Griffin Pontius, was gracious enough to make his first blog post an introduction of himself to the greater community of LiftPort followers. Me, on the other hand, got a little too excited about writing “content” for the blog that I posted a few before letting any of you know where they were coming form. Well, a little about me is that I spent my young childhood in the bay area of California before my family moved to New York City right before I was to start High School. I graduated High School in 2013 and came out to Tacoma Washington to attend the University of Puget Sound. For those of you who happened to read my first blog post know that I studied psychology, neuroscience and biology and just recently graduated this Spring.
I got involved with the LiftPort Group just shortly after I graduated and couldn’t be more excited to be working on such a monumental project and pushing the frontiers of science. That’s what really intrigues me; pushing the boundaries of what is known. That’s why I studied neuroscience and why I plan to pursue a career in understanding the human brain (if we don’t build an elevator on the moon, of course). The human brain is the last true frontier of the human body. I say this not because there are not things we still need to learn about other aspects of the human body, but because the brain is still so shrouded in mystery, so unknown to us, that it is consistently thought of as having a supernatural element to it; a mind or soul of some sort that has no physical basis. As a neuroscientist, I fundamentally disagree, however, it remains that countless individuals hold such a vast spectrum of beliefs about the brain that they characterize our ignorance about the brain as a collective. I truly do not mean to belittle or pronounce naivety on any belief contrary to my own, I fully believe that everyone has the right to live their life through whatever lens they deem best for themselves, but I cannot find examples within the human body that share the same variety and spiritual nature as the beliefs held throughout the world about the brain. Even the heart, which has historically been an organ that housed some form of spiritual entity such as a soul, or is often cited as being the location at which emotion is felt, has lost some of the physically transcending qualities once ascribed to it as more has been learned about how it actually functions within the body.
I tend to get a little carried away when I talk about the brain, but the same thing happens when I get into talking about any frontier of knowledge. Imagining the possibilities of discovery and uncovering the mysteries of physical are the cornerstones of science and the pinnacles of inquiry. Advancement happens exponentially, yet time moves so slowly relative to a human life scale, that we begin to feel comfortable within the environment around us and do not see the extent to which progression is taking place. It is taking place now. We are on a technological frontier that will make countless examples of science fiction into a reality. Drones will rule the skies, body parts and organs will be able to be printed, robotic body parts will be common, technology will be integrated into our neural networks, and we will have an elevator on the moon. The world is changing and I am going to be a part of that.
- Jeremy Wain Hirschberg
As I’ve had some time to get in the groove of working at LiftPort Group, one of the things that I get asked every day is what I am doing over the summer. I have tried many ways of trying to explain that I am building an elevator on the moon and solving the energy crisis. But as you might expect people are generally pretty skeptical and reluctant to believe me. In its own way, getting asked what I am doing for employment, has forced me to develop a modified sales pitch just to prove to them that I’m being serious. It’s a strange conundrum when you have to convince people that you aren’t messing with them when you tell them what your job is.
I want to make it clear that I am not upset by this, I find it rather comical because my reaction to Michael when he first told me was the same (See previous blog post). At the end of the day, its never going to hurt me that I have had to pitch this idea thousands of times. Anyways it is fun to see reactions. When you explain something as big as this project you really have to walk the listener through step by step and when it all clicks and they understand how wild and how groundbreaking this system is the smiles and looks of astonishment make it all worth it.
I can remember back to when Michael first explained the elevator to me, and especially when it all ‘clicked’ and made sense in my head. We had met at a local café for a sort of “interview” and I can remember him drawing out the entire system and while in the middle of explaining space based solar power it all clicked that we could solve the energy crisis! If he didn’t have me hooked on the phone (reference joke from last week’s post) he certainly did now. The vast mass and scale of this project makes it tremendously complex and complicated. In the weeks to come, I hope that I can help explain some of the technology along with a few stories that go into building this huge thing.
Question for the community!
How would you explain to someone that you were building an elevator on the moon?
I look forward to reading your responses in the comments!
Hey LiftPort world! My name is Griffin, I am one of two new interns operating with LiftPort Group and Michael for the summer. I originally met Michael in November of 2016 at a business planning competition for space commercialization (Michael was a judge) and then in the spring one of my entrepreneurship classes in which I had to job shadow an entrepreneur, and then make a documentary. For 5 weeks or so Michael and spent a ton of time together, I learned the history of LiftPort and the numerous ups and down that both Michael and LiftPort had along the way.
Initially I was given Michael’s contact info by a professor of mine to help me find an entrepreneur in the local area. I remember feeling a little upset when he agreed to work with me because I thought Michael was a guy that specialized in the import export business due to the ending of his email address (*@liftport.com). Wow, was I wrong. I can remember our first phone call:
Michael: “Do you know what it is that I am doing?”
Griffin: “I was under the impression that you were involved with imports and exports?”
Michael: “Ha-ha no, I’m going build an elevator on the moon”
Griffin: “OOOOOOHHH……. Ok then, that is considerably more interesting”
Honestly, I was pretty hooked right then and there. What followed was a few preemptive meetings where we talked LiftPort details, and then we set to work on the documentary. It was a short documentary and it definitely had its problems (It was my first time editing a video ever) but it ended up winning a few awards at my college which felt pretty cool! In the weeks following film festival, Michael offered me a position as his intern and here we are! I couldn’t be more excited and I am stoked to see what the future holds.
Great to meet all of you!
I just graduated from college, which is easily the biggest milestone of my life. 16 or so years of education, culminating in one ceremony, one weekend in May, where I received a piece of paper telling me that I had accomplished something big. My parent’s are super proud of me and they should be, I get that it is a huge accomplishment. However, everyone who has graduated from college knows that the very end of college and the very beginning of post graduate life, are all too shrouded with questions about what you plan to do now that college is over. I studied psychology, neuroscience and biology with a plan to pursue graduate education in neuroscience. I wasn’t ready though. Despite an excellent education, the neuroscience program at my school did not have any computer science as part of it’s curriculum, a field that is all but necessary for studying the brain. Luckily for me, there are countless resources online to learn various coding languages and thus, my summer plans were to embark on a goal to learn the coding language Python. Now, I just needed a job to support myself while developing the skill set I needed for graduate school and frankly, I didn’t exactly hunt for a job that hard while I was focusing on my classes. Quite fortunately for me, one of my close friends had gotten a summer internship with the one and only Michael Laine of the LiftPort Group. In passing, I had mentioned I was looking for a job to get involved in and Michael had also said that he was looking to bring another intern into his project. That’s when I was introduced to Michael Laine and the LiftPort Group.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My parents had no idea what I was getting into. I told them I had an interview with a local entrepreneur who my friend was interning for. I talked with Michael, learned about the project and just how risky, insane, and crazy it was and I couldn’t have been more intrigued. This was exactly what I was looking for in a job. This project will most likely fail, but if I am able to support myself, get business experience, and have the time to build my computer science skill set, then the project is not exactly risky for me. On the other hand, if the projects begin to gain traction, it could literally be the biggest accomplishment of humanity. I just graduated college and my first job is trying to build an elevator on the moon. Never would I have imagined I would be working on such a monumental project and for it to happen so quickly after graduation. Needless to say, my parents were also surprised about the nature of my new job, however, far less excited and far more skeptical. To be fair, they had paid for my education in neuroscience and for me to graduate and then come home and tell them, “I’m want to help build an elevator on the moon,” is particularly hard to prepare for. That being said, after considerable convincing, my parents have been extremely encouraging, very quick to make jokes, but very supportive.
Now, I find myself as a recent college graduate, working to create the foundation for a company that is trying to build an elevator on the moon and fundamentally change the way humanity interacts with space and our larger solar system. That’s insane. I truly can’t believe that I was privileged enough to have this opportunity fall into my lap and now I have the opportunity to change the world, no, change more than just the world.
-Jeremy Wain Hirschberg
At some point in the beginning of my internship, Michael connected me with Kevia Cloud, a former kid from the hood who got his life together doing CS for the military. Kevia is now back home and wants to make his community better, which I think is a fabulous goal. He started the first ever Hackathon here in Tacoma, and Michael asked me to be a part of it so we could suggest ideas for future ones.
I first got to know him and the rest of the team at the pre hackathon meet up over some amazing bulgogi courtesy of his girlfriend. There were only 6-7 of us, but I enjoyed chatting with everyone, and we got along great.
The Hackathon itself started around midnight on a Friday and was planned to go until midnight on Saturday. Because there were so few of us, we all worked on one idea. The idea was an app that could take a picture and then place where you took that photo on a custom map. Initially this could be used to take pictures of graffiti for removal. But this concept has many other applications such as in police work and giving showing people where all the really cool street art in a city is.
This meant taking a picture in the app, sending the picture metadata up into the cloud, and having a computer retrieve the metadata and place it on a map. We could also optionally build servers that could process the data to learn more clues from it. But the minimum viable product we wanted to finish in 24 hours was to be able to take a picture on a phone and have its location show up on the map.
Since my coding skills are garbage at best, I began working on the optional server part with some other folks. I learned how to turn on my local server so that things I typed would show up on there, and we began the process of downloading a million different packages in order to turn that simple server into something that could actually process data. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far on that, but the rest of the team did manage to achieve their MVP! Of course since the hackathon went from midnight after a full work day until midnight the next day, we were so tired for the majority of it that I at least felt pretty useless. But it doesn’t matter, I learned a lot and made some new friends, and isn’t that what hackathons are really all about?
What’s up everyone, I know you’re looking at this huge jump in dates between the first two posts and this one and going what the hell? Is this guy such a total bum that he can’t even keep up with a blog? The answer to that is yes. Like the title says, I’m only doing this because my boss makes me. Tons of things have happened since I last blogged, and there’s no way I’ll be able to talk about all of it. Does that mean you’ll never get to hear about some of my experiences? Yep, I guess it just sucks to be you. Let’s get into it.
What you last heard was that I helped set up a Space Elevator exhibit. I wasn’t there for the fundraiser, but I heard it was pretty sweet. Our exhibit intrigued tons of people from all different walks of life, and many put down their information and asked to be kept up to date on our progress. Market test number 1 of the Space Elevator Museum concept can be considered a success.
Market test number 2 was to set up a display in 5 large windows on Broadway St. here in Tacoma. The idea was that since it was right next to the Broadway Farmer’s Market, in theory it would bring around 5,000 people each Thursday right up to our windows. This is a great time for a phrase I’ve heard hundreds of times from my Dad, “sounds good in theory”.
First, there were problems with the location. While it is very close to the Farmer’s Market, the Market stops just short of the beginning of our windows, and everyone stays within the confines of the market. So there’s a huge crowd of people that you could hit with a rock if you threw it from the windows, but you couldn’t force them to come look at our display.
Then there were problems with the space itself. More than half of the windows were being renovated so there were contractors in and out every day doing internal demolition and asbestos removal. Not exactly a place to be putting art up in. But at first we had one window to work with that the contractors said they wouldn’t touch, so we spent a good bit of time printing posters and hanging them up there. Lo and behold, after we put everything up, the contractors changed their minds and said they needed to do work in our space. All the work that went up, came right back down and went into storage. Just proof that things don’t go your way all the time, but hey that’s life.
Today Austin, Michael, Gwen, and I set up the exhibit we laid out the day before. It began by bringing the laid out pieces to the building our gallery was at. We were given 6 walls by the Spaceworks Tacoma people, which turned out to perfectly fit all the work we brought. It was only when I got there I realized we had to decide how and where to put our work on the blank walls; previously we had just laid them into groups on the floor.
The pieces were split between printed posters and hand drawn sketches made by the old LiftPort artist Nyien. We started off hanging the large posters and objects with frames. Originally the plan was to use pushpins and we were being very exact and ensuring everything was hung straight. Then we moved on to the sketches, again being very careful to keep them straight and use pushpins. But after we had laid out how it would look, the walls with hand drawn sketches seemed wanting for something. So Michael suggested we tape up the sketches with black electrical tape, and put them up haphazardly at all kinds of angles and heights. The tape was also used to frame posters and captions. When we finished, it looked like a wall from an inventor’s workshop. Gwen said that earlier the sketches were trying to be something they weren’t, which was probably the best way to put it.
The outer wall had a huge collage of all kinds of space related stickers, quotes, graphics, event ads, and documents. Then there were two inside walls for posters and some sketches that showed the progression of work (and some awesome doodles courtesy of Nyien), as well as two inside walls for all of the concept drawings. The final wall was in the very back, a large brown brainstorming sheet from years ago that to me looked the most like modern art. Once the art was on the walls, we put a table with all kinds of robots, microchips, motors, and other engineering paraphernalia in the middle of the room. Perhaps the coolest part was a tiny fraction of a string of Dyneema suspending a 20 lb. anvil in the air. All in all it ended up being a pretty cool looking gallery, I’m sorely upset at myself for not taking any pictures of it.
- Darius Tamboli
I have a feeling that most interns never see the inside of their supervisor’s apartment, and for good reason. It helps to separate work relationships from personal ones. But of course this is unavoidable when the company has no office and all their assets are at the founder’s house. Three days after meeting my new boss in person, I’m in his (quite large) apartment putting all relevant materials and future office supplies into boxes to move into the new office. I imagine his girlfriend is super stoked to have all that “junk” gone.
The new office space is in downtown Tacoma, right on “Pac Ave”, the local name for Pacific Avenue. It’s an open space layout, with us on the 2nd floor, and another company below. Both of us can hear everything the other says, so it’s a good thing they’re an ally and not a competitor. Once we packed up everything from the apartment into the new office, we begin sorting all the stuff we brought and laying out artwork for a Space Elevator exhibit we’re putting on this Saturday.
Michael is a kid in a candy store as we sort through a whole plethora of work from his past. He is overjoyed at finding all kinds of interesting sketches and illustrations from his old artist, the best of which contain captions like “more scantily clad space maidens!!!”, “world domination!” and “Ariel’s mom = totally hot”. We find all kinds of old memorabilia and artifacts from the original LiftPort projects, and lay out the coolest ones for the exhibit as Michael waxes poetic and Austin types. As the day ends we have a full exhibit but the office is still a bombsite. This is the first time I've written a blog post, guess that's crossed off some non-existent bucket list.
- Darius Tamboli