KC Space Pirates
The KC Space Pirates is a team that competed in the 2006, 2007, and 2009 Space Elevator Games beamed energy climber competition and is planning to enter in the Elevator:2010 climber competition. The team is affiliated with, but is not sponsored by the KC Robotics Society
The competition is put on by the Spaceward Foundation. The goal of the competition is to encourage universities and groups to research and create designs for beaming power to distant objects, but for the competition Spaceward has used the Space Elevator concept to make it more challenging and to show how beamed power could work. NASA has put up the top prize of up to $2,000,000US ($900,000 for the 2 meters/second category and $1,100,000 for the 5 meters/second category) for the 2009 competition. The 2 meters/second prize was won during the 2009 competition so only the 5 meters/second category remains for 2010.
The competition is in the form of a race, 1 km (3,281 ft) straight up. The climbers are unmanned, have a maximum allowed weight of 25 kg (55 lbs), and may use no fuel or batteries to climb - they must only be powered by beamed energy. So far, the top designs have been reflected sunlight and laser. The KC Space Pirates used sunlight reflected off of a large array of mirrors concentrated onto a highly efficient array of solar cells in 2006 and 2007. They switched to using an infrared laser for the 2009 competition and will continue to do so in 2010.
The KC Space Pirates was the only 2009 team to have a fully automated laser tracking system. They did well in each competition but fell short of the money.
- Space Elevator Competition web site
- KC Space Pirates web site
- 12 minute broadcast segment on the competition by PBS Nova
- NASA page on the Space Elevator
- CNN article