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Space elevator robot reaches 1000 feet

Evan Blass
cartoon space elevator

We were certain that this was just a "pie in the sky" concept, but apparently engineers are hard at work designing those futuristic space elevators that promise to eventually whisk cargo and humans to the final frontier at a fraction of the cost of rocket-based delivery systems. A new milestone has just been reached in this quest, with Washington state-based LiftPort Group Inc. reporting a successful test run of their "Sword Over Damocles" robot to a height of 1000 feet. Tethered to a large helium-filled balloon, the 23-pound Sword, as it's known, was able to climb up and down the long cable while workers kept the balloon steady with guide ropes. While this technology still has a long way to go, challenges such as NASA's October 21 First Annual Space Elevator Competition at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley are spurring design teams to push the limits of both their robots and the super-strong, carbon nanotube-based ribbons that are key to supporting them.

[Thanks, William]

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