writes "LaserMotive has achieved the first step towards the creation of a working space elevator by qualifying for the $900,000 prize in a contest sponsored by NASA. To achieve this 1st level, laserMotive needed to propel a platform at over 4 meters per sec. They hit a top speed of 4.13 m/s. The next level of qualification will be to achieve a climb speed greater then 5 meters per sec.
LaserMotive (Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009) beamed roughly 400 watts of laser power to a moving target at a distance of 1 kilometer, as part of the vertical laser alignment procedure. The target was a retro-reflective board a little larger than 1 meter on a side. I don't know offhand if that is a record; I will have to check once things calm down. (It's a record that will likely be broken tomorrow by one or more teams, of course.)
The contest will continue for another two days with at least two other teams challenging for the prize. The grand prize of 2 million is within the sights of the LaserMotive team:
To win the Power Beaming competition, the LaserMotive system uses a high-power laser array to shine ultra-intense infrared light onto high-efficiency solar cells, converting the light into electric power which then drives a motor. Our system will track the vehicle as it climbs, compensating for motion due to wind and other changes. Building on our experience from last year’s competition, we are designing an improved system able to capture the full $2,000,000 prize.
The future looks up for laserMotive as they climb higher in obtaining the ultimate prize of ground to earth orbit with a space elevator. Next floor, International space station, satellite maintenance, and ET wear."
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