The race was on and the wind was up, which was something of a problem because contestants in the second annual Space Elevator Games in Utah yesterday were vying to send a vehicle 400 feet up a vertical cable attached to a crane. The prize of $500,000 in NASA cash went unclaimed, because none of the vehicles—prototypes for a future space elevator—managed the required velocity of at least 6.6 feet per second.
The Roald Dahl-reminiscent scheme envisions a vehicle to carry supplies and even people 62,000 miles skyward, on a tether, to a space station. The vehicle can't carry its own power source; entrants into this weekend’s contest reflected the sun and beamed infrared lasers at their machines. Battered by wind, some showered the ground with dislodged solar panels. Another round is planned for today, with weather expected to be clear and windless.