(3)Taking a cue from the X-prize, NASA has set aside $400,000 over the next two years for competitions to encourage the development of a Space Elevator -- the combination of a light-powered robotic climber and a thin 62,000 mile long tether. The Space Elevator would be able to lift payloads directly from Earth to orbit in space.
This year's contest requires participating teams to build a robot climber and power-receiving system capable of raising 55 pounds up a 164-foot cable, as well as to create tethers of a standard length, width and weight that are at least 50% better than last year's best offering. Watch the intro movie(1) and read more at elevator2010.org(2).
Illustration by Marshall Almeid