1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Climber
Marc Schwager  /  Spaceward Foundation
A robot climber makes its way up a thin tether suspended from a crane during Sunday's Beam Power Challenge at the NASA-backed Space Elevator Games in Mountain View, Calif.
updated 10/24/2005 1:06:52 AM ET 2005-10-24T05:06:52

A competition to develop space exploration tools for NASA produced no grand prize winners on Sunday, but officials said the event successfully sparked interest in aerospace technology.

The two-day event at the NASA Ames Research Center drew 10 teams of college students, hobbyists and entrepreneurs trying to build components for the world's first "space elevator."

The elevator idea, originally conceived by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1978 novel, "The Fountains of Paradise," relies on a tough, lightweight tether stretching more than 62,000 miles from Earth to carry humans and cargo into space with light-powered robotic "climbers."

Seven teams competed Sunday in the final round of the climbing competition, attempting to use light sources, including industrial-strength searchlights and magnifying glasses, to propel their robots up a 200-foot (60-meter) tether.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Chris Pratt wows us — and his wife — on 'Guardians' red carpet

      Actor Chris Pratt's well-documented transformation into buff leading man took another turn in the spotlight Monday as he w...

    2. Sales tax breaks boost back-to-school shoppers' spending power
    3. Sweet (and sexy) swimsuit trends
    4. To spank or not to spank? TODAY anchors discuss disciplining kids
    5. 'Good news': Little girls battling cancer in viral photo share update

None of the teams pulled off a winning climb, which had to travel at a minimum speed of 1 meter per second, although two Canadian teams — from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia — managed to get their robots partially up the tether.

There also were no winners among the four teams entered in the strongest tether category Saturday. None succeeded in creating one lightweight or tough enough to outdo the "house" entry supplied by NASA, which used technology currently available.

Brant Sponberg, program manager for the "Centennial Challenges" hosted by NASA to encourage engineers to come up with new space technology, said the lack of grand prize winners was not a major disappointment. The $100,000 in prizes will be added to the jackpot for next year's contest.

"NASA has no plans to develop a space elevator any time soon, but the component technologies have a lot of different applications," Sponberg said. "High-strength materials that are less weight are great for rockets, it's great for airplanes, it's great for spacecraft."

Marc Schwager, spokesman for the Spaceward Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to space science and technology education that teamed up with NASA to host the contest, said participants already were excited to try again next year.

"There was a tremendous amount of learning that went on and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. While the money was out there, everybody was out here because they were really committed to the idea" of creating a space elevator someday, Schwager said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy Aldrich Family

    ‘Extraordinary’ 8-year-old boy finishes triathlon with his disabled brother

    7/22/2014 4:35:28 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T16:35:28
  1. Feds ban airlines from flying to Tel Aviv airport

    Federal aviation officials issued an order to airlines prohibiting them from flying to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours after a rocket struck near the airport earlier Tuesday.

    7/22/2014 5:43:01 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T17:43:01
  2. Dutch collect DNA to match with MH17 victims
  1. Prince George’s birthday: The royal tot’s 10 cutest moments

    He likes stuffed animals, he’s got chubby cheeks and he’s also pretty photogenic.

    7/22/2014 1:11:51 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T13:11:51
  2. New photos capture wonder of George turning 1 

    Kensington Palace released three pictures of Prince George to mark his birthday.

    7/21/2014 9:35:28 PM +00:00 2014-07-21T21:35:28
  3. No picky eating! How to raise a royal baby

    As Prince George turns 1, we couldn't help but ask: What exactly does it take to raise a royal baby?

    7/22/2014 6:35:04 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T18:35:04
  4. EPA file
  1. Coke is a stain remover? 6 surprising cleaners in your home

    From those annoying white deodorant stains on your little black dress to rust stains in the commode, some stains just won't go away — until now. With help from some savvy experts, we put together surprising tips to banish these stains once and for all.

    7/22/2014 4:48:22 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T16:48:22