Consistent with our goal of focusing the Space Elevator community towards a common effort, each year the ISEC Board of Directors decides upon a theme that becomes the focus of many ISEC activities. These include:

  • The subject matter to be expressed in the annual ISEC Poster
  • A topic for the International Space Elevator Conference

Below are the annual Themes chosen by ISEC:

2017 – Design Considerations for Space Elevator Simulation

This 2017 study has been initiated and will evaluate the various aspects of the necessary computer simulation to support the development of the space elevator.  With its unprecedented scale, wide range of physics and engineering concerns, and pioneering materials, the space elevator will require computer simulation of many of its aspects before any major component of it can be built.

The goals of this study are to:

  • specify the aspects of the space elevator which require computer simulation,
  • develop the requirements necessary for a simulation system which can carry out the above tasks,
  • make recommendations for software tools needed to build the simulation system and
  • define a computing model for the simulation system.

Aspects to be simulated include:

  • dynamics of tether and climber motion,
  • electrodynamics of the tether and its interaction with the magnetosphere,
  • radiation effects of tether and climber materials,
  • wind forces, and more.

Based on the requirements and recommended tools, a computing model will be defined which will serve as a framework for the construction of a simulation system.  In general, computing models address the following issues:

  • configuration of computing hardware and software
  • distribution, access and maintenance of computing resources
  • work-flow, including coding, the running of simulation jobs, analysis of results and archiving
  • testing, validation and benchmarking of models and tools.

2016 – Design Considerations for the GEO Node, Apex Anchor and a Communications Architecture

This 2016 study report was kicked off in September 2015 to establish a baseline for designing the Apex Anchor and the GEO Node.  In addition, a communications architecture for the space elevator will be sketched out.  This 2016 ISEC study addresses three critical aspects of the space elevator infrastructure: The Geo Node, the Apex Anchor and how the two will communicate with the rest of the space elevator.. The key question to ask at the present is: What are the functional needs of the space elevator that will drive the design of the segments. During this study, the team will assess many issues dealing with two nodes in deep space to include:
  • What is an Apex Anchor?  Describe in detail the major sub-systems.
  • What are the functional elements of the Apex Anchor?
  • What are the missions of the Apex Anchor?
What is a GEO Node?  Describe in detail the major sub-systems.
  • What are the functional elements of the GEO Node?
  • What are the missions of the GEO Node?
What is a Comm Architecture?  Describe in detail the sub-systems.
  • What are the missions for the Comm Architecture?

2015 – Design Characteristics of a Space Elevator Earth Port

This study provides the International Space Elevator Consortium’s (ISEC) view of the Earth Port (formerly known as the Marine Node) of a Space Elevator system. The Earth Port:
  • Serves as a mechanical and dynamical termination of the space elevator tether;
  • Serves as a port for receiving and sending Ocean Going Vessels (OGVs);
  • Provides landing pads for helicopters from the OGVs;
  • Serves as a facility for attaching and detaching payloads to and from tether climbers and attaching and detaching climbers to and from the tether;
  • Provides tether climber power for the 40 km above the Floating Operations Platform (FOP); and,
  • Provides food and accommodation for crew members as well as power, desalinization, waste management and other such support.

2014 – Roadmaps and Architectures

The concept for this year-long ISEC study is that the Architecture & Roadmap Team will develop a series of roadmaps leading to an operational space elevator. The report will quantify the step by step processes on how to move towards initiating a project, developing the research and development, conducting risk reduction and then building an infrastructure. The team will emphasize where the project is going and how funding can follow the layout of a series of roadmaps. The space elevator community has a variety of approaches for development of this low cost space access infrastructure. An important point is that many of the various architectures for space elevators are real and can be successful. To ensure that the community progresses in concept refinement, a year-long study must be conducted to trade each concept against others to drive great ideas to the surface while identifying risk mitigation efforts. There are at least five architectures that will initiate the discussion:

  1. Dr. Edwards Baseline: Single tether, laser powered. [$ 6B in 2002$]
  2. IAA Baseline: Solar powered climbers, multiple tethers. [$ 15B in 12$]
  3. Rotating tether between GEO and Marine Node. [$ ? B]
  4. A segmented tether with multiple stations. [$ 41B in 2009$]
  5. Obayashi Architecture: Presented in Sept. in Beijing. [$ 100B in 2013$]

2013 – Tether Climber

The design of the tether climber has many dimensions. The first is to identify the types of climbers to include designs for initial buildup, operations, atmospheric protection, beyond GEO, and return to Earth. The study will look at specific designs of major segments of a climber to include the motor, structure, attachment to the tether, and source of power. In addition, a quick look at the operational approach will be included. The tether climber design will estimate the structural and payload mass to be loaded into the cargo bay. In addition, the length of time on the tether and speed will determine mass movements per week.

2012 – Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator

For many reasons, it is necessary to define a baseline configuration for the Space Elevator. Such a baseline forces one to make the hard decisions as to where the Base Station will be placed, how it will be staffed, how it will receive cargo and send it to space, how it will be powered, where the control and command centers will be, etc. And until such a configuration is defined, it is very difficult to place a price-tag on sending cargo to space.

Defining such a baseline also forces ‘opponents’ of this baseline to come up with a well-thought out alternative to one or more items in the baseline. For example, if the baseline defines the Climbers being powered with Lasers throughout the climb, and someone wants to suggest an alternative (for example, using a mix of Laser and Solar Power), having this baseline in place will show what must be modified to consider the alternative. This leads to more rigorous thinking about the design and operation of a Space Elevator.By selecting “Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator” as the 2012 Theme, ISEC wishes to focus the activity of all interested parties towards making the hard decisions and trade-offs to come up with a realistic Operations scenario.

2011 – Research and thought targeted towards the goal of a 30 MYuri tether

The biggest hurdle on the way to building a Space Elevator is constructing a tether that is both strong enough and light enough to support itself and cargo-carrying vehicles. We estimate that a tether with a minimum strength of 30 MYuris will be sufficient to construct the Space Elevator and ISEC wishes to promote research and thought targeted towards this goal.The target of a 30MYuri tether has been specified in The Feasibility Condition, a study produced by Mr. Ben Shelef of the Spaceward Foundation (and an ISEC Board Member). At this time, only carbon nanotubes seem to be potentially strong enough to produce a tether with this minimum specific strength. However, the strongest tether material (a thread) demonstrated so far has had a specific strength on the order of 1 MYuri. Governments, corporations, academia and private individuals are all working towards making stronger nanotube structures.

By selecting “Research and thought targeted towards the goal of a 30 MYuri tether” as the 2011 Theme, ISEC wishes to focus the activity of all interested parties towards this goal.

(A Yuri (named in honor of Yuri Artsutanov) is a unit of Specific Strength. It is equivalent to 1 Pascal-cubic-meter per kilogram. A Mega Yuri (MYuri) is equivalent to the commonly used units of 1 GigaPascal-cubic-centimeter per gram (1 GPa-cc/g) and to 1 Newton per Tex (N/Tex).)

2010 – Space Debris Mitigation – Space Elevator Survivability

One of the issues that naysayers continue to bring up in objecting to the practicability of Space Elevator is the issue of Space Debris. There is no doubt that Space Debris is a large and growing issue. More nations (and now, even some private ventures) are launching devices into space and the body of debris in space, especially in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) continues to grow. Due to its being a permanent structure, the Space Elevator may be uniquely vulnerable to this problem.By selecting “Space Debris Mitigation – Space Elevator Survivability” as the 2010 Theme, ISEC wishes to focus the activity of all interested parties towards investigating this issue and a) seeing how serious the problem actually is and b) recommending strategies to mitigate the problems that are real.