Enthusiasts on Friday unveiled an effort to establish an annual competition for space-elevator technologies, taking a page from the playbook for other high-tech contests such as the $10 million Ansari X Prize.


Many of the details surrounding the “Elevator:2010” challenge — including financing — still have to be fleshed out, however.



The project, spearheaded by the California-based Spaceward Foundation, would focus on innovations in fields that could open the way for payloads to be lifted into space by light-powered platforms. Such platforms, also known as climbers, would move up and down superstrong ribbons rising as high as 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.



The space elevator concept goes back to vintage science fiction — with emphasis on the “fiction.” But in the past couple of years, researchers at institutions such as Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have been looking into ways to turn the idea into reality.



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