Thanks for your ongoing support of our building an Elevator on the Moon! 2013 was a terrific (and, at times, terrible) year! We made a lot of progress – but it wasn’t always the kind of progress you can see. It was often intangible, where we’d build a research or collaborative relationship with someone. Or we went to various places, and met with tons and tons of people; our goals is to educate, inspire and inform. Occasionally, we worked on robots, communication systems and developed the Tethered Tower system so it could deploy our high-altitude robotic experiment. 2014 is going to be even better!
1) We’ll launch our experiment, and fulfill our rewards to the Kickstarter Community
2) Formalize our long-term plans for the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure
a. Showcase our proposed budget
b. Showcase our proposed timeline
c. Showcase the hundreds of Subject Matter Experts that have joined our team
3) Submit (up to) six experiments we’d like to launch to the International Space Station
4) Request a formal research partnership with NASA, ESA and other national space programs
5) Rebuild our LiftPort website with a single goal – to provide our global community with the tools they need to connect with us, and with each other.
6) Convene both a “defense” and “writers” council. The first is an acknowledgment that the project won’t go forward without the military (any military, not just US) being aware of the program. And the second is in recognition that science fiction writers help to convey future concepts.
7) Build the alliances (individual, corporate, academic and governmental) needed to build our Elevator on the Moon.
8) Engage as many of you as possible - through meet-ups, conference calls and surveys.
I know some of you are mad. Believe me, I get it. All I can say is the 2013 was the year that set the foundation, and that 2014 is the year to put that foundation into action. You’ll see progress in each of these areas through the first quarter of this year.
As always, we wanted to let you know there were a lot of ways to keep in touch with our project: I’ve been posting images and updates of ongoing progress on: • Twitter (@mlaine & @LiftPort), • Facebook (Space Elevator, Lunar Elevator, LiftPort), • Inhttp://instagram.com/getlf8dstagram, • YouTube, • Angelist (Me & LiftPort), and • Google+ (Michael Laine & LiftPort). I’m requiring all LiftPort staff and advisors to develop social media profiles and to post regularly. As that starts to take shape, I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve another Update to post tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Mjl Michael Laine, President, LiftPort Group
Before we start, in response to comments from the last update, we're sending EVERYONE a survey to confirm current addresses.
Hi. A lot of folks have been interested in the robot we are building; so this update is long long overdue. If you have specific questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them in future (more frequent) updates.
We’ve named it/him “Neil” after Neil Armstrong. I don’t know if you remember, but Armstrong died while our KS campaign was underway. We’d originally had a $10,000 level reward where someone could name this robot. I was expecting some sort of corporate sponsor or something like that. Instead, I chose to remove that reward level (at the suggestion of a KS backer) and name the ‘bot in honor of this great man.
Coincident to his death and our ongoing KS campaign, we were holding the annual International Space Elevator Conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. There is an extensive ‘space’ exhibit, and a small section dedicated to Armstrong. So the museum held a moment of silence when word of his passing circulated. It was a good feeling to be there, in that place, at that time. Our campaign was growing, momentum was building, and for a moment it really felt like we were doing the right thing to honor his legacy – by building a new Lunar Infrastructure that could take humanity to our nearest neighbor.
So, #RobotNeil is proceeding. I’ve been posting images and updates of ongoing progress on Twitter (@mlaine & @LiftPort), Facebook (Space Elevator, Lunar Elevator, LiftPort), Instagram, YouTube, AngelList (Me & LiftPort), and Google+ (Michael Laine & LiftPort). Work has been very, very, very sporadic. Between trips to the hospital, ICU, urgent care, physical therapy and to the morgue, funeral parlor and cemetery; and between Space Elevator-related trips to Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Phoenix – work on the robot has been ongoing.
If you follow the links, and the associated posts, you’ll see that #RobotNeil is over 2m tall, and his (ten) 20cm wheels are custom-made from foam PVC. His motors are bolted to a primary spine, and the communications, computer and batteries are on a flat plane at the bottom. We presented our work-to-date at this year’s #SpaceElevator Conference. We got some worthwhile criticism and helpful advice. This ‘bot is a pretty radical departure from our prior 19 robots – we’re climbing a string instead of a ribbon. I know that sounds trivial, but please consider how much gripping surface has changed in this new configuration. We changed because when we build the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure (#LSEI) we’ll be climbing something similar to very very strong dental floss. So we had to spend a lot more time working out the mechanics of this new Lifter design.
Overall, the system works… but it doesn’t work as well as we’d like. (I’m in DC right now. When I return home, I’ll use my new/empty Vine account to show Neil in action.) We still need to integrate the communications array with the ‘bot – that will be a time consuming task. I’m going to leave the comms for a separate post; as that is a complicated beast and worthy of a more complete description. Other elements we are wrestling with include “lash” and the “coefficient of friction” between the wheels and the ribbon we are climbing. (Which is another lengthy post... It occurs to me that if I’d been posting regularly like I should have been, that I’d be able to spread these out over a more reasonable timeframe.)
After this current round of upgrades, we should be ready to begin testing – endurance, and cold. We’ll erect a “treadmill” test inside an industrial kitchen freezer. That’s not a real-world analog, but it’s probably enough. Real world conditions are much harsher: colder, (obviously windier) and there’s a certain amount of humidity in the atmosphere. My hunch is that we will wind up replacing the motor mounting brackets, and possibly the motors themselves. I think everything else will work fine.
Take care, mjl
Michael Laine, President, LiftPort Group