Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Space Elevator

A team of UBC Engineering students has taken time off from their very important “hanging a VW bug from the First Narrows bridge” activities to take part in NASA’s 2006 Beam Power Challenge. The team has been working on a design for a solar powered “Space Elevator” which, it is hoped, will one day be used to ship people and cargo to low orbit space-stations. Team member Kyle Knucklesandwich, a seventh year engineering student, says, “Dude, it’s, like, hard.”

The team has built a prototype: an elevator powered by a solar cell which can climb a 60 meter tether, and with luck this will win them the $150,000 USD prize. According to Mister Knucklesandwich, three time winner of the UBC Engineers karaoke ‘Chugga-lugga ding-dong’ competition, this is just the first step. “We gotta win this thing, then we talk to the suits, y’know, ‘cause that’s where the real coin is. Then after that it’s all, like, party, y’know?” In fact should a practical Space Elevator be designed and built it could save the aero-space industry billions. As an example; it would be far less expensive to step onto an elevator car and press ‘up’ to get to Low Orbit Earth Space-station Alpha-one-one-alpha-alpha-one-one-alpha-one than it would be to prep and launch a space shuttle for the same trip.

“Yeah,” continued Mister Knucklesandwich, “all together the guys put over 12,000 man-hours into this, and that sounds like a lot, and it is a lot, but if you, like, convert it into, like, girl-hours then it would be, kinda like, a million or something ‘cause they, like, talk and shop and they’re always forgetting which way to turn a nut to tighten it and stuff, and stuff.”

Mister Knucklesandwich admits that they still have a couple of hurdles to overcome. “Yeah, we’re still trying to figure out, like, what kind of music they should play when they’re going up or, like, down. The metal dudes want, like Ozzy or stuff and the ravers want some techno beats and it gets kinda intense sometimes. Guys are all, like, no way and stuff. And, like, when you’re in an elevator and you don’t want to look at anybody’s, like, eyes and stuff so, like, what do you look at, y’know? And what about smoking, right? It’s gross but dudes are, like, whatever, right?” These are all important questions but then again, these are the guys who are going to answer them because the UBC team was voted ‘most likely to win then drink a bunch of beers and get sick in 2006’. Good luck, guys!

Anyway… Humouroceros

The proposed entrance for the new Space Elevator.

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