Thomas Frey: Seven teams failed to win NASA’s “Beam Power Challenge”, a competition designed to create a solution for powering the space elevator. There may have been a number of reasons why no one won either of these challenges, but the amount of money they were offering as a prize was insulting at best.
The challenge centered around building robots that scaled as far as possible up a 61-metre cable using photoelectric cells to convert light from an industrial searchlight into electricity for the climb. Minimum speed requirement was 1 metre per second.
Once they achieved the speed, the competition was over who carried the most weight the highest. The winner would have walked away with a $50,000 grand prize, but no one won.
No team was able to meet the speed requirement, and the the team from the University of Saskatchewan set the height record at a measily 12 metres.
A second competition called the “Tether Challenge”, only attracted four team. This one also failed. In this contest, teams had to build tether loops lighter than 2 grams.