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Posted: Sep 08, 2016
The dream of a space elevator
(Nanowerk News) From November 12 to 15, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) will host the "European Space Elevator Challenge" for the third time, an international competition for developing space elevator prototypes. Seven teams from Germany, India and Japan will be competing with their concepts – in the hope of laying the foundation for a revolution in astronautics.
Taking an elevator into space – that's the vision set to revolutionize space travel in the coming decades. The idea gained wider currency in Germany a few years ago with the publication of "Limit", a novel by bestselling author Frank Schätzing.
The European Space Elevator Challenge, or EUSPEC for short, was created to inspire aspiring engineers with space elevator technology. The competition is hosted by WARR, a student research group at the Institute for Astronautics. The Munich-based company Vestner Aufzüge is providing funding as the competition’s main sponsor.
A Helium Balloon Instead of a Truck Crane
This year, the competition will have literally reached its high point. Instead of using a truck crane as in previous years, this time the elevator cable will be attached to a helium balloon hovering at an altitude of 100 meters. The elevators built by the competing teams not only have to ascend quickly, they also have to use minimal energy and carry as much additional weight as possible. A jury of experts will closely examine the concepts and factor them into the final results.
Seven teams will be competing in Garching with their prototypes this year. For the first time, teams of high school-level students will be participating, running their elevators on a shortened cable track with a simplified set of rules. WARR’s own team, which can now look back on 10 years of experience, will be competing with a completely new development, a highly efficient lightweight concept. Two teams from Japan will also be taking part.
The two main competition days on Tuesday, September 13, and Wednesday, September 14, are open to the public starting at 10 a.m. The competition venue is the lawn next to the west entrance of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. For information on the program, the competition rules, and the participating teams, please visit euspec.warr.de. You can find a map and directions on the page euspec.warr.de/contact (scroll to the bottom).
WARR was founded in 1962 and is one of the oldest student research groups at the TUM. It already made history in 1974 with the flight of the first German hybrid rocket, which can now be seen at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. WARR’s objective is to provide its members with the opportunity to perform scientific research during their studies and to gain experience in practical projects in the field of astronautics. It is supported by the Department of Astronautics and the Chair of Turbomachinery and Flight Propulsion.