Step towards the future

Could large scale access of high earth orbit be able to solve some of mankind's big needs faced now; and if so, what way could that conceivably be economically done? Those are questions focused upon throughout this website. 

"Yes," is the technical answer, as shown here among these pages. But the business-social-political answer is in a different catagory, unfortunately. For one thing, the space access industries are still locked into the inherently extremely low efficiency lift rocket techniques; and the extreme care necessary for complex undertakings involving many people, require very little change for each step, to minimize risk; this causes a severe inertia re development potentials. And the majority of influential people appearently still prefer war's familiar ways to the more challenging engineering ways to influence the future; and even technology can be mis-used to cause destruction or to enslave people, or even innocently be led into dysfunctional paths such as by being merely guided by that which makes the most immediate business profit for special interest groups, blind to the larger picture in which they exist. Yet, surely one can hope that humanity will seek more wholesome ways of life, if they can see them.

The concepts presented on these pages involve huge changes in the way we would do things, from using the large volume space habitat modules to be their own fuel tanks for their launches by the hundreds to form a circular rotating space station in LEO orbit; to using structures that cannot be tested except full sized in one aspect, that of being big enough to encircle the whole Earth, because they require the planet's  gravitational field to bend them into a closed loop while parts of them whirl around the planet at high velocity, an enormous perimeter electric motor enabling unique transportation potentials to GEO. For example, if its armature mass that is circulating rapidly around the planet is going at twice orbital velocity wherever it is at, its surplus outward centrifugal force could support a motionless structural mass there equal to its own mass; and also, some of that electrically-sourced kinetic energy could be used to drag vehicles along the structure to provide their transportation energy along the way ... potentially extremely efficient transportation to space. Or, since "conventional" space elevator concepts - anchored earth tethers supported by Earth's rotation's centrifugal force beyond GEO - report recently developed tether material of carbon nanotube matrix of 100 GPa at 1300 Kg/m3, that is quite adequate to enable constant-cross-section tether material for efficient but smaller capacity transportation to and from GEO can use a system in some ways like existing loop pulley connected tramways to high mountains on gondolas, also potentially quite efficient as compared to rockets.

It is said that "with a will there is a way." Maybe with a "way" shown, eventually an industrial civilization "will" will follow, eventually finding it more useful to do this kind of constuctive path than to do the war destructive path. Don't expect it soon, however; since it could already have been built before now (I originally publically proposed its basics in 1988, 19 years ago) and already used to build Solar Power Stations in GEO to provide clean electric power by now, but they chose a different path, and are likely to continue the same kind of choices. Let's continue on with our dreaming here, however, as it is said that is the only way a dream can come true.

The "needs" which appear to be fulfilled by such large scale economical access to high earth orbit, include plentiful solar-sourced clean electrical energy cheaply delivered to all nations around the world, which also would provide great reduction in CO2 greenhouse environmental effects; responsible cleanup of environmental toxic materials produced by industrial civilization, through efficient solar powered lift and processing in the GEO environment back into clean useful raw materials; even possible vast new room for people to live and even to grow the food needed to live well, in Stanford Torus type wheel cities built in GEO, shielded with water ice; and from high efficiency spaceports in GEO, reaching out to lunar and asteroidal resources for new resource availability.

And the main "way" explored here utilizes a form of escalator transportation structural weight support unique to planetary access transportation systems, that of constrained centrifugal force within structures encircling the planet. The constrained outward high velocity centrifugal force balances the inward force of gravity on non-moving parts of the structure, simple as that. And some of that kinetic energy is tapped off to gently lift the payload-carrying spacecraft up and down the structure between the ground and GEO. The basic conceptual complexity is about the same as that of your CD/DVD drive in your computer or boom-box. The energy added to payload by moving it from the ground up into GEO is only 7.15 KWh per pound lifted, so at 10 cents per KWh that is 72 cents per pound, or $119 for a 165 pound person. The neat thing about it is that it is an electrtically powered transportation system, and once it is used to build Solar Power Stations in GEO, those SPS can thereafter beam solar-derived energy down to the accelerator site to power the space access transportation system independently of earth's conventional energy resource availability. The concept neatly interlocks together.

Although each of us, as individuals, are engrossed with our daily joys and struggles, it is also true that we function as an aggregate, if only as combined effects on the planetary system on which we all  depend for life. In the long run, we as individuals will have a better life for ourselves and our families and friends, by conscious awareness of, and sometimes helping out a little, the overall world picture's options. And so, this website is such an effort

A recent phrase has received scornful attention: "building a bridge to nowhere". Although the phrase was coined regarding a bridge in Alaska to an island, some of the basic projects contemplated on this website might initially receive similar scorn. Except for the weather and communications satellites that we depend on daily, which are in GEO, Geostationary Earth Orbit probably seems like "nowhere;", and so building a kinetic energy supported bridge from ground up to there in GEO might seem like "building a bridge to nowhere." Yet, it is that which we put in a place that makes it  a "somewhere" of value. And there is a tremendous amount of room in GEO in which to put things up there to make the place highly valuable.

For example, with adequate continuous payload carrying capacity, environmentally clean, and energy efficient transportation between ground and GEO, we could finally build plenty of  Solar Power Satellites to cleanly provide the enormous electrical power that an industrial worldwide civilization requires, on into the future, without adding CO2 for greenhouse heating effect, nor adding nuclear waste materials. And that is just a start in the enabled applications.

Besides abundant electrical power worldwide, civilization needs to responsibly recycle the huge industrial wastes produced. This could be done by processing plants in GEO. Early type Mass Spectrometer technology could be built up there, and use solar power to recycle toxic materials back into useful form, removing the material's entropy thereby.

whats' new


Solid band KESTS

This alternate technique is an easy read in the form of science fiction in the sci fi section! A continuous armature band type KESTS, instead of armature segments, would have some interesting properties. It would utilize tensile stress in the band instead of the kinetic energy losses with potential energy changes.

Envision it now as part of an adventure story written November 2007, "It's Down to Earth"