This resulted in a safety device dropping the line – which means we’ll have to do this yet again, until we get it right, and so the games cannot proceed as planned on August 5th. The likely minimum delay is probably 4 weeks.
A technical issue with a helicopter cable system is forcing the Spaceward Foundation to postpone the Space Elevator Power Beaming Challenge Games originally scheduled for this summer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center.
The 3/16th inch thick steel cable is suspended beneath an Aris Helicopters-operated Sikorsky S-58T, but issues reoccurred with the winch and pulley system similar to those which earlier this month forced organizers to reschedule the contest to Aug. 5-7. In the latest tests over the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base last week, as the helicopter was hovering above the anchor point, one of the safety release mechanisms gave way unexpectedly. The release mechanism is designed to drop the cable should the pull strength exceed 3,500 pounds, but officials say that according to strain gauges the pull tension was “nowhere near 3,500 pounds.”
Spaceward, which is trying to develop a stable racetrack for the contests to use, now plans to re-examine this system and determine what changes may need to be made. Officials believe the games may be rescheduled for September or October, given the time required for reruns of the tests with the teams and the helicopter.