Look closely at the face ...
A special workshop for schools
or a team-building exercise for your organisation

Can your team build a vehicle to climb a space tower?

How to reach space without using rockets!

Pacing out the solar system

Much of the cost of reaching space is that of the rocket for the launch. How can this cost be reduced? This is a challenge to demonstrate a possible answer.

At 35,780 km (22,200 miles) above the equator, a satellite is in geostationary orbit; it revolves around the Earth in the same time it takes for the planet to rotate, and so it will stay above the same position relative to the ground below. This means that the satellite would not appear to move across the sky, and so a receiving dish on the ground only has to point in one direction to receive transmissions from the satellite. This is the basis of satellite TV and global communications. “Sky TV” should really be named “Space TV”!.

From this relatively stationary position, a rope could theoretically be lowered to the ground, forming a solid link from the Earth to space, and vehicles could travel up and down this line.

This is the concept of the space elevator - a means of getting into space without the need for rockets, drastically reducing the cost of reaching space. This is a real proposal that is being investigated by companies around the world. It is currently expected that power will be beamed to the vehicles from ground-based lasers.

NASA currently runs an annual contest for test vehicles, with prizes of $2,000,000! Now, on a smaller scale, you can do the same thing!


The Space Elevator Challenge is in two parts:

The main task for each team is to build a demonstration model of one of these vehicles, determine how it will actually climb the elevator tower and to then make it climb as high as possible without slipping back down.

Each team will be provided with a budget of “NASA money” banknotes. They will have to organise their team, design a vehicle, determine its components and then purchase them with their funds. They will have to work within their budget and to a set timescale - just like NASA’s contractors.

The second part of the challenge is for each team to prepare and present a pitch to promote their design to a panel of judges. They have to describe how it operates and what it costs to construct and operate, and also include topics such as what speeds the full-size version will operate at, what the passenger cabin will be like, safety features, etc.

A portion of a space elevator tower will be provided, and the teams will then demonstrate the vehicle that they have constructed.

The overall aim for each team is to convince the judges by demonstration and presentation that their proposal is the best.

The activity is like a combination of “The Apprentice”, “Scrapheap Challenge” and “Dragon’s Den!

"Here is your task ..."

"So what is your proposal?"

"Teams, you have 2 hours ..."
Images BBC and RDF Media

 The challenge tests the following:


The ability to work together as a team.


The ability to meet the challenge specifications; objectives, budget and time.


Appropriate selection of roles, such as team leader, designer, budget planner, purchasing manager, PR manager.


Being able to produce a viable design, possibly through iterative prototypes.


 Being able to produce and present a convincing proposal.

This is a genuine simulation of a real-world situation in a complete package: analysis, design, construction and presentation - within the overall constraints of time and budget. So the teams behave like real companies, and the activity is a business exercise as well as a technical challenge.

Click here for a flyer - Contact me for workshop availability.

Include an evening presentation on space as part of your booking.
Read further details on the presentations here, or download a flyer.

Areas covered:  The entire UK  (A travel supplement may apply)

Evening presentations: Normally 75 but currently FREE when booking a day's workshops.

For additional information contact me now

If you are interested in arranging a presentation on space or astronomy,
contact me at info@spaceflight-uk.com
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