TAC stands for our Technical Advisory Council. The TAC is the key to this project; They the reason we are still a company – after all our setbacks. The TAC is both a resource of ideas, skills, and expertise; they also sustained me (and therefore, this project) during our dark days. I could look to them and evaluate their credentials/experience and say to myself “if people like this think that this Elevator is the right idea, then maybe it really is worth the effort!”
So what is the TAC, really? How did it evolve?
Like most things in LiftPort, the TAC evolved over time. It started while we were focused on Earth’s Space Elevator, and morphed when we shifted our focus on the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure (LSEI). For most of the 15 years of LiftPort’s existence, the TAC was an Ad Hoc volunteer list of people I knew, who either gave me their business cards, sent an email, or called me and said they wanted to help. I actually, not figuratively, have a shoebox filled with ~2000 cards that I’ve collected over the years. (God only knows how many I’ve lost; most of my files and documents disappeared when I lost LiftPort’s HQ, and my office building.) And I’ve got just shy of 200,000 email messages going back more than a decade. Most of those messages are junk/irrelevant/trivial. But a few are vital. Same goes with the 13,000 vmail messages I’ve collected since 2010. Thousands and thousands have contacted me over the years. Most of the time, their names simply went into this ‘list in my head of people I’d like to contact, someday’. A few proved immediately useful.
Over time, I have come to depend on a core of about 400 of these folks to help me rebuild the current version of LiftPort, and the latest incarnation of the LSEI. I’ve narrowed this list based on two criteria: Education and/or Experience. (Naturally, they also self-select as committed volunteers, willing to tackle difficult problems.) So I look for folks who have 10-15 years (sometimes they have a LOT more) experience in their profession, and where possible, either a Masters or Doctorate in their specialty.
Let me share with you, how this has worked, up until now… If I had a question on radiation in space, and how that might affect our string, I’d call Teresa. If I had a question on anthropology, how the ‘space cowboys’ of the country might influence our target of settlement on the Moon, I’d call David. Sometimes they would study the problem exclusively and write a report for me. Other times, my question would be a larger part of their current research, and I’d get a few pages of a more comprehensive document. Sometimes, I’d get nothing… after all, they were volunteering their time.
This summer, organizing and coordinating the TAC is our primary task. We need to morph this from ‘a list in my phone’ to a contracted, focused, team. That won’t be easy. However, accomplishing this is vital to the growth of the project.
I’m excited. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Many of these people have been anxiously waiting for just such a call. Many others will be caught off-guard – I haven’t spoken to some of these people in years! Yet, I think they will be receptive once they get the call. They want what I want – settlement on the Moon, water-ice for rocket fuel, and a commercial space station at the Lagrange point!
- Michael Laine,
Preseident, LiftPort Group