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Michael Laine, Monday, 2-4-13 February 5, 2013

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Michael Laine, Monday, 2-4-13


Guest:  Michael Laine.  Topics:  Lunar space elevator updates. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information.

     We welcomed back Michael Laine for LiftPort Group updates regarding the lunar space elevator.  For more information, visit www.liftport.com.  Michael started our two hour discussion talking about his very successful Kickstarter campaign last year.  LiftPort started the campaign asking for $8,000 but raised $110,000!  During this first segment, Michael talked about the plans to use the $110K, the experiments LiftPort would do and why additional funding was needed to advance the lunar space elevator project.  I asked Michael lots of questions about the lunar space elevator market, his time table for transitioning away from being a Power Point project, & the LiftPort labor force.  LiftPort is mostly volunteer labor. For now it is working on tether and balloon experiments.  We talked extensively about using Kickstarter and even talked about the tax consequences for Kickstarter revenue.  Michael did say that he thought the project would be a private project in that government would not be a major supporter, if at all.  Michael then talked about his fact finding global missing seeking new financing and partners after the Kickstarter campaign. He had much to say about his visit to Iceland and the company CCI Games.  When pressed, Michael suggested 8 years from last August to completion. Listen to the details supporting this timeline.  Michael also outlined four areas needing resolve to move the lunar elevator project forward.

     In our second segment, Michael described more of the elevator project, including the use of EML1 and why & how the elevator ribbon would work, including its logistics from EML1 to the lunar surface and EML1 back toward Earth.  He also talked about their lunar surface elevator contact point on Sinus Medii.  A listener asked him about the Google Lunar XPrize & Michael told us how a GLXP mission could benefit the LiftPort project.  Also in this segment, we talked about costs.  Michael estimated about $800 million for a robotic mission and maybe up to $1.2 billion for three astronauts roughly every three weeks.  He compared these costs to the cost of shuttle launches and flights to the ISS.  When asked about lunar markets that might economically justify the lunar elevator, he talked about the potential of HE3 mining and new uses for the material here on Earth, plus lunar SSP and solar panel manufacturing.  Alex asked Michael to be specific about the transitional steps from Power Point to the beginning of a systems engineering project to develop the elevator.  Emory emailed in more questions about tether use, Tim called (sorry for phone line issues on Tim’s call) regarding tethers and more.  David Ben wanted to know about the Falcon Heavy and I expanded that to include SLS.  A question came up about LiftPort’s interest in a Mars space elevator. Our discussion concluded with Michael suggesting that Kickstarter & similar crowd source funding organizations will play a bigger & more important role in funding space ventures in the future.

     Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. Michael can be reached at info@liftport.com.  You can also subscribe to the LiftPort free newsletter from their website.


Michael Laine, Tuesday, 3-20-12 March 21, 2012

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Michael Laine, Tuesday, 3-20-12


Guest:  Michael Laine.  Topics:  Lunar space elevator, general space elevator discussion.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Michael Laine for updates on his company LiftPort & their latest space elevator plans.  Michael started the discussion with an overview of his involvement in the space elevator project, his company LiftPort up through its fiscal problems, the reestablishment of the company with intellectual property, & a lunar space elevator study from 2010-2011.  He brought us current with LiftPort plans into 2012 plus what the company & his team have planned for the balance of the year.  Michael talked about his team, issues relating to a lunar space elevator, how the Moon rotates/spins differently than the Earth, & how an elevator would be different than an Earth-based elevator which he said cannot be built at this time.  He made the point that the lunar elevator could be built now, does not need a carbon nanotube ribbon & will likely go from Sinus Medii on the Moon to an orbiting spaceport at the Earth-Moon L1 point where there might be a Bigelow station with EELV or Falcon 9 flights coming up from Earth.  He also said the early flights would be robotic but that both capability and capacity would expand to include humans.  He was of the opinion that the basic lunar space elevator could be completed within a decade.  Eric called in to challenge some of Michael’s technical analysis.  Michael offered to send the math analysis of the project to anyone requesting it.  His email address can be found at the end of this summary.  Later in this hour long segment, I asked Michael about business issues, the market, financing (public, private, both), ROIs, & more.  As you will hear, this part of the LiftPort plan is unfinished.  Michael’s team has been confirming the math analysis for the project & has yet to refine their business plan/due diligence analysis. When pressed, he said the cost might be around $700-$800 million but they were increasing that to $1.5 billion to be a bit conservative.  He also said this was for a small elevator with a payload capacity of 40-240 kg.  In speaking about the commercial aspects of the project, he repeated many times throughout our discussion that they were focused on cash flows and the commercial aspects but first they needed certainty about reaching the technical “go” point.

In our second segment, Michael continued his theme that they do not yet have the business plan components in place.  I then asked if this was nothing more than a feasibility project?  That seemed to summarize our discussion so far.  Michael did point out that LiftPort already had two intellectual property (IP) assets so the company was positioned to make money even before the elevator project got going beyond the study phase.  I pressed him for his public finance plans.  His idea was based on the Railroad Acts which included bond sales guaranteed by the government with the government providing sufficient business revenues to support the bond guarantee.  A listener brought up the issue of space debris & climbers.  Michael pointed listeners to their YouTube channel to see their climber in action.  Mars elevators were mentioned near the end of the program as well as LiftPort internships.  We also talked about the recent Japanese company’s announcement of their own elevator plans (Obayashi Corp.).  Michael also suggested the space elevator conference (http://spaceelevatorconference.org).

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog URL above. You can email Michael Laine at laine@liftport.com).