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The highlight of the two day expo will be three X Prize competions with over $2.5 million in prizes.
Space elevators may lift a little higher this year at the Spaceward Foundation's Space Elevator Games. Over 20 teams have entered a competition to use light to power a "climber" along a tether, this year up about 50 meters. Each "climber" will carry a payload and must travel at a minimum speed of 1 meter per second. The winner moves the highest in the shortest amount of time and receives a $200,000 prize.
Another $200,000 prize may awarded for the team that can make the strongest tether. NASA requires a 50 percent improvement in breaking force from last year. Scientists forsee incredibly long tethers that will guide "space elevators" along great distances. The moon?
Teams had to successfully complete a run in order to qualify for the finals. Here, the University of Michigan team's platform nears the top of the tether.
One day before the finals, six teams had qualified for the finals including one from Germany, two from Canada and a high school team from the United States.
One team from Spain was unable to participate after their "climber" was lost during shipping according to reports from the competition.
The German Turbocrawler team's platform inches higher.