Q & A - Questions and Answers

Q: This is crazy! The tallest buildings in the world are only a few hundred meters tall. You can't build a ladder from here to the Moon.

A: The tallest buildings in the world built using conventional construction technology probably is in the hundreds of meters tall range. But the specific type of technolgy controls the potentials of its applications;  just as flying by flapping bird-like wings can provide only a very limited range of travel, by changing the technology to meet the new kind of task, by use of lighter- or heavier-than-air powered aircraft one can now fly almost anywhere in the world; no flapping of your bird-like wings involved in the task. And it is equally true regarding appropriate access between ground and GEO to fulfill the tasks, that the technological form needs to be changed to match the new kind of tasks involved. And ... I agree about not being able to build a ladder from the ground to the Moon, but that is not what is being proposed here; and even if one could build a ladder to the Moon it would slowly wrap around the Earth as the Moon revolves around the Earth. And as for tall towers, some people have even proposed constructing tall earth towers that are pressuriized like balloons made of steel instead of made of rubber, that could reach tens of kilometers high, supported by the high pressure inside the steel containers. I am not proposing tall towers built to GEO, but something very different , to achieve the needs of the near future, even the present day if available now.

Q: The armature segments would burn up in the atmosphere, travelling at tens of kilometers per second.

A: That is why the the high velocity armature segments are traveling on magnetic levitation tracks which supports evacuated tubing where the structure is within the atmosphere.

Q: This violates all the laws of the universe and economics! The only conceivable way to economically lift huge amounts of material to GEO or to go to Mars is by use of nuclear powered spacecraft.

A: Although  the shape of the structure is developed from the shape of an orbital transfer trajectory between GEO and the Earth's surface, the armature segments trajectories are constrained by the track structure along which they travel, in addition to the inverse square law force of gravity along the path. The form of space transportation structures proposed here may be thought of as electric motors of very large perimeters, fully obeying all physical laws. With economical clean lift to GEO spaceports, which are then 91% up out of the planetary gravitational energy well, even conventional chemical propulsion spacecraft can then make large scale travel to and from Mars from GEO. Nuclear powered spacecraft may indeed be very useful to travel to the outer planets on a large scale basis, however, and maybe even to Mars if they can be designed to not contaminate the space environment more than normal solar radiation already does. As for economics, the ability to provide large scale materials lift up into GEO for less than 5 dollars per kilogram, drastically changes all the economics involved with building solar power stations in GEO, for one thing.

Q: You propose enabling a long term sustainable large human population by having them live in a ring of cities in GEO, but it can be shown that a continuous ring in orbit around a planet will eventually collapse.

A: Orbital degration could slow a solid orbital ring so that it will compress and crumble, eventually falling down, if it is so designed as a compression structure. But if the solid ring is kept at, or above, orbital velocity at its altitude, it will not be a compression structure that will eventually buckle and collapse, but instead be a neutral or a tensile structure. Just need to keep it going and fully tensile connected. And up in GEO, you have lots of time to keep it speeded, orbital degration is very slow.

Q: You won't get me to go live in a submarine-like space capsule in space; I won't go anywhere I cannot sail my boat in freedom across the waters.

A: Part of the purpose of this overall concept is to enable a high level of long term sustainable industrial civilization with a large population, while also being able to restore the planetary ecosystem back to a clean wholesome world ecosystem, enabling Gaia to have a long term sustainable life at the same time. And that would enable long term availability of those clean bright sailing waters for those able to enjoy your delightful sailing sport.

Q: In 35 years foreign countries would destroy destroy structures to GEO, so that their excluisive remaining oil supplies will then power military vehicles to enable some fanatic religious group to conquer the planet and forever rule the world, they think.

A: While that which happens in the future has yet to be determined, I agree that some people who are fearful and power-addicted, do some destructive things. But if the people of the world have become happy and well fed and interestedly contented with their lives, including everyone having a satisfying mate, hopefully they are not so likely to be driven to tyrannically "rule the world." It will be a test of mankind's survivability, the future will test mankind's responsibility.

Q: There is no way to feed billions of people living in orbit, even if you could get them up there.

A: The archetype of space colonies that could be built in GEO instead of at L-5, might be the Stanford Torus, designed in 1975. This  design used a  one or two mile-diameter rotating wheel shape to provide near-normal gravity function through the centrifugal force of its rotation, and was rotating inside a motionless shilding mass. For use in GEO, shielding mass made of water ice reinforced with sawdust would be better than lunar material slag, since if it all eventually did come down eons from now, meteoric velocity water ice would just make steam in the air, not dust. Several other concepts in large scale cities in space were conceived for use in L-5 back in the mid-1970's notably the O'Neil space colonies. The Stanford Torus design divided up its wheel into six equal sections, every other one was for agriculture production. The inside of the "tire" part of the wheels were to be 600 feet across - about 200 meters across - and the agricultural parts were illuminated with sunlight reflected off a mirror, so there was roughly 10 times as much sunlight available for growing food per area as on the average place on the Earth surface. Adjustable shutters provided control of day/night type light cycles where needed. Plenty of room and sunlight energy for a variety of food sources besides the plants and trees, including fish and cattle, all flourishing in intelligently balanced totally controlled environments, no wondering if it is going to rain or be long winters. Plenty of food for the 10,000 people who would live on each of the Stanford Torus type wheel cities. As for room for billions of people, 1.5 million of such cities linked around in the vast orbital diameter of GEO, provides room for up to 15 billion people. Not that so many would be a necessary part of the project, this is just to show long range potentials if things worked out that way.

Q: Isn't this just the same as Keith Lofstrom's 1982 "Launch Loop" concept?

A: Keith Lofstrom's 1982 "Launch LKoop" concept was something I activly attempted to get support for being done via my testimony before the National Commission on Space, and it provided seed ideas for my KESTS and other concepts later. Normally I think of "launch loop" as being a Lofstrom's Launch Loop type system, a brilliant idea which was a ground to ground truncated vertical triangular structure, supported by the outfling of its rapidly rotating belt between its pulleys. It involves at least four points of relatively rapid bend of the high velocity continuous belt structure, two at the corners on the ground, and two other ones up in the fringes of the atmosphere, anchored to the ground by tethers.  The pulleys at these points need to have mechanisms whose strength is capable of efficiently withstanding the enormous velocities and kinetic energies of turning at such velocities in a small turning radius, whether magnetic field or structural materials taking on the forces involved. In comparison, the KESTS or Carousel Escalator concept uses the planetary gravitational field to do the bending by going around the planet to form its continuous hoop structure form, thus greatly reducing the consequent forces involved in the turning of the continuous structure. Also, Lofstrom's Launch Loop was only to go to the fringes of the atmosphere, from where to launch into orbit; KESTS type structures conceivably could also be made to only go up to similar upper-atmosphere altitudes or even LEO directly, too. Either type of such structures could bypass the conflict of use of the equatorial plane between ground and GEO, that currently exists as a major conflict of interest of the use of space, although still have the rocket technologies involved in getting all the way up to GEO and put into stationkeeping there at GEO. KESTS to GEO would avoid all that, and do it efficiently, by lifting directly from ground into GEO orbit, payload dropped off already orbiting in GEO.

Q: Could domed cities be built on the Moon or Mars where all the people that I don't like could be put?

A: Others have proposed that high security prisons could be put on the Moon or in earth orbit, true; and huge sums are now being spent on massive new prisons in this country, that might well be better spent on space; and remember that the now-great nation of Australia was originally started as a prison colony. Although I believe there are far more wholesome purposes to the use of the vast space resources, history unfortunately shows that nations don't often launch big space projects for wholesome reasons, but rather fork out the resources only to build rockets to bomb rival nations on other continents, but which also can be used to put satellites in orbit; and to expensively race to the Moon so as to prevent other nations from building nuclear-armed rockets launch facilities on the Moon aimed at us; instead of doing it for scientific purposes or preparation for space colonization. To get something done, it first needs to serve the needs of the powerful current authority's limited vision, dedicated to the maintaining of the power of their authority in some way, whether battling external potential intruders or preparing to battle internal dissidents, the discouraging facts of what really gets done. But then hopefully later it will be adapted to more constructive uses for civilization. You might enjoy reading my sci fi novel "Building Up" starting with Chapter 12.

whats' new

curved track

KESTS structural support principle

It is interesting to find out what kind of reactions people have to these concepts. Is this just more Babylon Tall Tower Tales, really? It is useful to get feedback about what people read into something new, coloring it with their past  memories, sometimes totally beyond any recognition of what is actually described here. Yet all have something valid to say ... about something.