January 1 – 15, 2013
Public Service Announcement
Hi. I was offline for a week at the beginning of the year. I’m not going to go into details. But let me just say this – if you love anyone in the world – then please, please, please, ensure that you have a will and any other medical/health directives needed, and be very clear about what sort of arrangements you want when you die. If you have children – this is critically important. If you have children, it is also important that you leave enough money behind so that the people who want to carry out your desires have the financial capacity to honor your last wishes.
Special surprise in T-shirt Shipments
A very small group of the folks receiving their t-shirts this week will also receive something odd, unique and unusual. I’m sorry that I can’t send this to everyone, but I took the next 16 names off the pile and added in something to their package. This is the letter I included:
Hi, Here’s a surprise in your package.
Last weekend, my engineers and I were working to establish a strength baseline for some of the critical threads needed for the experiment.
This string was MUCH weaker than we were expecting – we were told it was going to have a breaking point of 400lbs, and it was closer to 75-90lbs. This was totally unacceptable.
So I spent the day looking for more/better ribbon material. Since ‘everything’ depends on this, it’s the logical first step.
I’ve decided to include little bits of the thread for you folks to look at. This material is very similar to the kind of string we will use on the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure. The irony here is that while it probably is good enough for the Moon, it is NOT good enough to test the precursor systems we have here on Earth.
You’ll notice that each thread is made up of hundreds of individual filaments. Individually, they might seems weak. But in fact, on a strength to weight ratio; these threads are 2.5 times stronger than steel. I hope you like them.
Mjl Michael Laine
President, LiftPort Group
We added a new member to the LiftPort team here at headquarters; Christopher Maddox. His primary job – and the specific task I hired him for – is the Kickstarter fulfillment. He’s off to a good start with that.
But during the interview I discovered something very important. He’s got over a year of videography under his belt. In fairness, these are not tremendous credentials; they are simply from the local high school where he graduated in 2012. But what he lacks in experience, he more than makes up for with dogged determination. So, without further ado, we are experimenting with the Video Channel we promised in the Kickstarter campaign. (Several of you volunteered to help with this. If you’re seriously interesting, now is the time to get involved – send me a message and I’ll connect you with Chris.)
Please take a look at our first videos. Right now, there is no rhyme or reason to it. We’re just trying to catalog the day’s events, and also to add a little ‘lesson’ about the things needed for the Elevator to Space.
But we are developing a short- mid- and long-term plan for where we want to go with this stuff. Stay tuned!
We’d love to have some feedback on our first attempts. (Be gentle, this is completely new to me… and just wait ‘til you see the ‘bloopers’ real we are putting together!)
And please subscribe to the YouTube channel to receive updates when we post them. (And if you like it, please tell your friends/social media contacts!)
If you watched the videos, you’ll know that we made some limited progress on the robot this weekend. We’re starting to hone in on the Ribbon, and once we have that solved, then the ‘bot will progress much faster. Every design decision we make is derived from the string: how strong, how slippery, how wide and how thick. I know this seems like pretty basic stuff, but until we’ve got those details resolved, we can’t commit to a specific design.
Once we have that, then we start looking at total climbing altitude ~23,000 ft (~7km when you consider wind-drift of the Ribbon/Balloon away from its starting point). That is an arbitrary number: chosen solely because it would be taller than Mt. McKinley – so that it would be the tallest thing in North America. But then we have to choose our speed: 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours. The longer we’re aloft the more likely the cold-soak will affect and impact our equipment. (Personally, I’m betting on the balloons cracking and releasing the helium.) So I’d like us to climb very very quickly. If we climb 7km/hour then we’re moving at 1.95 meters/second! And that’s possible, but it adds a huge burden on the batteries and that means more weight, and that may be a bad scenario.
So right now, it’s all about trade studies and spreadsheets. It’s not as much fun as building the robot, but it’s an essential precursor step.
I’m very excited about this next piece of news! The upload tool for the Card Carrying Supporter wallet card is now online!
I’m sending a specific letter through Kickstarter for the details. But I hope that you’ll like this as much as I do. I’m really looking forward to this.
This is a temporary link as we rebuild and upgrade the official LiftPort website. There are over 3000 of you eligible for this reward – and I can’t wait for you to get it!
Also, please notice that there is a “question” section at the bottom of the page. If you have some question you’d like answered – about the Earth or the Lunar Elevator or LiftPort Group in general – just ask it here. I’ll organize the questions into categories and answer as many as I can through the Video Channel above. This question process also serves another purpose… which I’ll describe later.
Finally, I just wanted to let you know that the communications team is hard at work too. I’ll detail their effort next week – but they are making solid progress on the communications, video, telemetry and science cargo of the robot.
Take care, Mjl Michael Laine President, LiftPort Group
P.s. Tomorrow I’ll get back to telling the tale of the Epic Trip… I haven’t even gotten to the ‘good parts’ yet.