KESTS to GEO For Beginners
Author: Jim Cline
"The man with a new idea is a crank, until the idea succeeds."
-- Mark Twain
Follow along this path of reasoning, developing the concept afresh
in our minds now, given the potential benefit of a major new technology's
massive access between space and the earth's surface. Start with the goal of using existing known principles and reasonable
extentions of existing technology, to create a transportation
system between the earth's surface and high earth orbit, a transportation
system that can quickly emplace solar-electric power plants in
GEO to provide all the energy it needs thereafter to provide a
high capacity, continuous operating way of moving goods and people
between ground and high earth orbit, at a million times present-day's
average payload transfer rate, using a thousand-fold less energy
per kilogram to deliver the payloads. This goal, because it could
solidly bridge civilization into the immense resources of our
solar system, shifting civilization's load off of the earth's
complex and fragile ecosystem.
Approach to be used : do cognitive processing by simplifying and
observing functions, then filling in to compensate for the simplifications.
Reference patterns of analogies and morphological equivalences
First, simplify by hypothesizing an airless path between ground and space. Simplifying by this condition of no
air between the ground and GEO, in the area of concern here; we
will compensate for this later in the mental process.
Along the airless path, from the ground, electromagnetically launch
a stream of projectiles into the equatorial plane in the form
of an Orbital Transfer Trajectory between R=1 (earth's radius) and R=6.6 (Geostationary Earth Orbital
radius), cyclically returning to the earth contact point compensating
for 24 hour rotation of the planet. Once launched in this airless
path, the projectile stream would continue to encircle the earth,
spanning between the ground contact at the equator, extending
up to GEO at its high point then continuing on around to its starting
point at earth's surface, forming a stream of projectiles continuously
going around the planet along this Orbital Transfer Trajectory
("OTT") path. The velocity of these projectiles is everywhere
exactly equal to that required to provide an outward centrifugal
force balancing the force of gravitational attraction on the projectiles,
as defined by an orbital trajectory. This stream of projectiles
creates a virtual structure, much as a water fountain does.
Next, increase the velocity of these projectiles while confining
their path to that of the aforementioned OTT, such that their increased outward centrifugal force almost exactly balances
the weight of the tracks which define their path, along with the
weight of the tubing that maintains the airless path within they
travel in the atmospheric portions of the trajectory.
And finally, increase the projectiles' velocity even more, to
provide energy all along the upward-bound portion of their path,
energy for use in lifting payload-carrying vehicles up from the
ground to high earth orbit.
Fill in the conceptual design by making the tracks magnetic levitating to minimize frictional
losses, easier because the induced magnetic field increases as
the square of the velocity, and the projectiles are moving very
The stream of projectiles become as discontinuous segments of
a giant electical motor. Dynamic braking of vehicles relative
to the upward-bound armature projectile stream, can be used to
lift the vehicles to space. This is the main point of the concept, note. Put more maglev tracks on the outside of the structure, along
with the vehicles move to and from space Dynamic braking can also
provide some servopositioning of the structure, compensating for
live loads of vehicles and atmospheric wind loads. Make the armature
mass streams move along tracks in pairs of opposite direction,
and laterally couple the tube structures to which the magnetic
levitation tracks are attached, so as to balance out gyroscopic
effects and to provide places where upward lift energy is available
everywhere along the structure.
Such a transportation structure could be built initially of very
small capacity, just enough to be used to lift the materials to
build more girth onto itself, eventually scaling up to full working
capacity size. So develop ways to make the intial emplacement
of the first seed structure, techniques that will have little
environmental impact when they fail to be successful, as surely
the first tries will experience, in the lerning curve.
Thus the basic concept is developed. some basic questions are
explored below, and the concept is much more fleshed out in the
many pages of this website, as well as in the two formal technical
papers published on the concept so far.
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Several basic questions:
What is it?
- It is a kind of space elevator from the ground to space, to high
earth orbit, where payload will stay up there without needing
further acceleration to stay up there. Think imaginatively of
an electric motor, whose perimeter is stretched so thin and so
big that it encircles the whole earth, and eccentrically fills
in the shape of an orbital transfer trajectory ellipse which extends
from the ground, up around the planet to GEO high above the far
side, on back around the planet to its starting point on the ground.
This "motor" drives its armature mass stream by electromagnetically
thrusting it at the earth surface terminal site. The armature
then delivers energy to lift vehicles to space as well as to support
How does it lift payload into orbit?
- The basic lift energy is delivered all along the path from ground
to orbit by a kind of gigantic electric motor. The electric motor's
equivalent of a rotating armature, where it is rotating upward
relative to the Earth'[s gravitational field, electromagnetically
drags the vehicles carrying payload upward along the path from
ground to space, and back. This is like an electrodynamic brake,
coupled in the upward direction.
That armature must be moving extremely fast, tens of km per second,
how does it avoid being burned up in the atmosphere?
- The electric motor's armature mass stream travels in a hard vacuum
all along its path, along maglev tracks within the motor's stator
which encloses the hard vacuum environment in the portion which
lies within the atmosphere.
Such an immense thing must weigh an enormous amount, no material
is strong enough to support that enormous weight. What holds it
up? What keeps its shape?
- Energy stored within the structure support's the structure's weight,
as well as distributing the lift energy to move payload between
ground and orbit and back.
- An analogy of how a structure can be supported by energy stored
within itself, is of the common baloon. By blowing air into the
limp empty baloon, the baloon changes into a rigid structure,
able to resist deformation forces. This principle is currently
used in the complex shaped inflated play structures at parties,
as well as used to augument the strength of thinwall fuel tanks
of spacecraft launch vehicles.
- A closer analogy, a morphological equivalent, is that of a cowboy's
lasso, whirled around the horseback riding cowboy's head then
tossed to ensnare a running cow, maintaining its hoop shape enroute.
Consider how a lasso starts as a heap of limp rope, shapeless.
The rope is tied in a loop, then whirled around, and the rope
forms itself into a circular hoop structure, holds its shape by
the centrepetal force of the rotating material. The limp rope
has been tranformed into a semi-rigid hoop circular structure
by the centrifugal energy stored within itself by virtue of its
- Both centrepetal force and electrodynamic drag support the structure's
weight and respond to live loads on the structure.
- Picture the armature mass stream sliding around inside the motor
stator along maglev tracks. If the armatures were going at exctly
orbital velocity, they would be essentialy in free fall all athe
way around the elliptical orbital transfer trajectory path around
the planet. If the armatures go faster than orbital velocity for
that path, the excess velocity is expressed as centrepetal outward
force against the motor's stator structure. If the armature segments
go twice the orbital velocity, they support exactly their own
aggragate mass against the force of the planet's gravitational
field. At some combination of armature mass stream mass and velocity,
and stator mass, a balance of the weight of the stator would be
achieved. This is essentially a stored energy, low dissipation
rate, supportive force on the structure.
- Electrodynamic drag against the upward-bound portion of the armature
mass streams tops off the support of the structure's weight, as
well as is used to provide dynamic servo positioning laterally
of the structure, responding to live loads including wind loads
in the atmosphere. Since this is a dissapative, energy-consuming
process, its use is minimized regarding support of the structure.
What is it good for?
- Basically, it can be used to extend civilization efficiently into
high earth orbit, to access the unique environment there of high
solar power to provide cheap clean renewable energy for civilization
worldwide, energy and environment to enable total recycling of
civilization's toxic waste products, provide an efficient transportation
site for chemically fueld launch vehicles to commute from there
throughout the solar system for raw materials; and even to provide
a site, GEO, for immense artificial gravitied cities in space,
room for billions of people in high quality living, with little
load on the earth's ecosystem resources. If people were willing
and wise enough, this could enable the restoration of the earth's
diverse ecosystem soon thereafter.
- More specifically, to initially lift the materials to build enough
Solar Satellite Power Stations in GEO to electrically power all
of the civilization's on Earth thereafter, thus preserving remaining
fossil fuels for valuable future petrochemical purposes.
- To lift the materials for building immense solar-electric powered
waste recycling plants in GEO, and move the materials to/from
the earth surface for total recycling up there. These total recycling
plants would function analogoous to gigantic mass spectrometers,
by aporizing the waste material then accelerating it and separating
out the elements according to their mass-charge ratio. The collected
purified material then get returned to the earth surface for industrial
uses all over again. This provides a critically important function
for survival of both humanity and the earth's ecosystem, since
nature cannot adequately recycle much of ciilization's toxic waste
products, so it accumulates and gradually corrupts the planet's
essential living ecosystem..By totally recycling all out waste
products which nature cannot process, we make possible the long
term survival of both humanity and the ecosystem on into the far
future, for our decendents.
- To electrically lift very large spacecraft up to GEO, from where
they can launch to the moon, asteroaids etc to gather needed raw
materials. Exploratory and colonization efforts on the moons,
planets, asteroids can go with gusto thereafter.
- To provide economical lift of construction materials for initial
R&D 10,000-person-each passivlely shielded toroidal space habitats
built in GEO, of designs similar to that of the 1976 NASA design
for ones to be built in L-4 and L-5. Absorption of charged high
energy particles of the Van Allen radiation belt there in GEO
by the passive shielding mass, and deliberate shielding techniques,
can clear out much of the toxic radiation there.
- It offers people worldwide a way to pool their efforts to provide
a good life for everybody, on into the future, instead of the
otherwise probably disintegration into conflicting factions as
the resources of the earth surface become depleted and toxic wasts
accumulate disruptively, causing warlike interactiveness. This
project potentially could avoid all that, and provide much excitement
and opportunity for heros to prove themselves along the way, constructively.
Thank you for your interested attention! Go for it, anyone?
- I'd be glad to hear from you, anyone with any comment, all thoughts
are valid for what they are. You can email me at email@example.com
or at firstname.lastname@example.org (cut and paste to your email handler).
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Page updated on 2002 05 03
Copyright © 2002 by James E D Cline