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Product Code: ILSC2009_1103

Laser Safety Issues for the 2009 Space Elevator Power Beaming/Climber Competition
Authors:
Darrell Seeley, Laser Safety Consulting, LLC; Wales WI USA
Dave Marcotte, TRUMPF; Plymouth MI USA
Presented at ILSC 2009

The concept of a space elevator was brought to public attention in part by the well known author, Arthur C. Clarke. It may still sound like science fiction, but with the advance of technology the concept becomes ever more nearly realizable. The space elevator will likely consist of a geosynchronous satellite (22,500 miles or 36,000 km altitude) tethered to Earths surface. An elevator, or climber, will move up and down along this tether, ferrying materials and/or personnel into space. The Spaceward Foundation is determined to promote progress toward the eventual realization of a space elevator. In 2008 their Power Beaming Challenge featured a $2M prize (provided by NASA) for the device (climber) that could most quickly climb a tether to a height 1000 m above the ground using only power that was beamed to it from the ground. Many competitors chose a ground-based high powered laser as their power source, which raised interesting and perhaps unusual laser safety issues.

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