The University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team failed to take home the cash prize in the Elevator 2010 competition, despite beating their competitors in the previous three competitions.
The winning Kent, Wash. team did not claim first prize but took home a $900,000 for getting their model to climb a kilometre up a cable suspended by helicopter in sufficient time. They are the first team to have met the challenge so far.
The USST was the only university-based team in the competition.
The group had problems getting their climber going, partly because they had not been able to adequately test their equipment, including laser that would power the unit’s solar cells.
Unlike the winning team, the USST does not actually own the laser they use for the climber. Renting it meant having to be sparing with how often the climber was tested.
Started by NASA, the Elevator 2010 competition is intended to promote research into the design of a space elevator, which could one day facilitate space travel without the use of rockets.
Next year’s top prize is $1.1 million.