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Elevator to space? They're really trying

November 4, 2009 1:10:35 PM PST
A laser-powered elevator to space isn't getting to the top floor.

Three teams are competing for $2 million in prizes in the NASA-backed Space Elevator Games that began Wednesday at the Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.

The first team, from Kansas City, Mo., had trouble keeping the laser locked on its machine, and it only made it part of the way up a cable dangling from a helicopter 4,300 feet in the air.

The idea of space elevators originated in the 1960s as a way to reach space without using rockets. Theoretically, payloads could be delivered to and from space on a cable stretched between the Earth's surface and a platform in geosynchronous orbit.


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