Three robots, powered by lasers, competed last week on November 4th, to climb a rope of one kilometer high hanging from a helicopter. The goal was to finish the distance at the same time by climbing with at least 2 meters/sec speed. The goal of the competition is to set up the knowledgebase for a future space elevator that will allow reaching out to space without the expense and risk of using rockets. The laser power system is basically pointing laser beams from the ground to the photovoltaic cells at the robot’s surface, so that the robot doesn’t have to carry its own power source.
If it becomes a reality, the space elevator’s rope will be hanged from a mass that will be placed into a geosynchronous orbit, which is a fixed distance from earth where the rotation velocity of the satellite exactly corresponds with the earth’s own rotation, so that the satellite remains at a fixed place relative to the earth surface.