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Number: 747  Name: HWY TO EARTH GEO RING
Address: J.E.D.CLINE1                Date: 890209
Approximate # of bytes: 15120
Number of Accesses: 21  Library: 19

Description:
General audience writeup of the kinetic-energy-supported space elevator structure concept, providing economical transportation
into space at high payload volume, primary power from SSPS, including surplus power delivered to earth; spacecraft construction at GEO,Stanford Torus type space habitat
construction at GEO.

Keywords: elevator,habitat,torus,transportation,power


                 HIGHWAYS TO THE EARTH GEO RING

                    J. E. D. Cline

     Fortunately, the resources of energy to make things happen, raw materials for building things, and  vast room to live in, so needed now to take the burden of mankind's greatness off of the ecosystem of our Mother Earth, is available in space. Those resources are close, starting only ninety miles or so away, 90 miles straight up overhead, that is.

     Although that ninety miles is a steep climb, one which the world is currently able to make for only a few people at a time (without much of a place to go, either; no hotels there yet) aboard chemically fueled spacecraft like the space shuttle, the key links for creating a true highway forthe bulk of humanity into space may already exist in concept. Let me show you a neat design for connecting those links into a unified picture of Earth's ecological system, human civilization and highways to space habitats.

     First we need a hypothetical belief that it can be done, can be achieved, and done well.  That belief will lift us up out of appearant dead-end tracks along the way, energizing us with a reminder of the whole picture, the map. Yes, we CAN get there from here.

     Next, a quick reminder of why we need to do it.  Likehumanity eliminating forever one species of earth lifeforms every week or so, mostly in the rainforests being slashed and burned for farmland, then exhaused to wasteland.  Add to the list that the arid wastelands of the entire world are collectively expanding at the rate of about 40 square miles per day.  The Sahara desert once was a well-watered savannah.  We are burning up many billions of dollars of fossil fuel petrochemicals every year, and replacing none of
it.  Worldwide we pile up one billion tons of garbage peryear, putting it somewhere.  OK, that is enough thinking about this; let's not get down in the dumps with fascination about such things.  Solutions are at hand, harmonious solutions.  Believe.

     Looking upward and outward for a new place to live for teeming humanity, let's creatively explore how to get there and where to live exactly, once there.

     Chemically-fueled rocket propulsion transportation seems much too limited in this application, due to the enormous chemical energy needed to conventionally lift into space, per person.  There are several billions of us needing to go, and soon, if we are to stop crushing our beloved planetary ecosystem. Most of the energy in chemical rocketry is used just to lift the fuel itself; relatively little of
that fuel energy is used to lift payload itself.  So let's look at the past for solutions, in light of today's technological advances.

     Eliminating the fuel used just to lift most of the fuel, would make the process far more efficient.  If the vehicle is already moving fast enough, say 18,000 mph, as it leaves earth surface, that would put it into orbit without lifting fuel just to lift fuel...if our atmosphere were not in the path, that is.  Trying to punch its way through the
air at 18,000 mph would consume its velocity and destroy it
with the heat caused by shoving that much air aside that
fast.  Like a meteor burning up. So...let's move the air
aside first, out of the path.  Move the vehicle through
atube which has had all the air pumped out of it, ahead of
time.

     A very long tube it would be, and surely very heavy
altogether.  How to hold it up?  By converting our 18,000
mph vehicle into a steady stream of vehicles, each of which
drags upward a little on the tube as it rises toward space,
the tube can be supported in the earth's gravity field.
Shifting our thinking a little more, convert the vehicles
into just a mass stream moving at the 18,000 mph within the
vacuum inside of the tube, the mass s
tream supports the tubeby giving up a small part of its velocity, its kinetic
energy, as it flows through the tube.  The tube then becomes
a fixed structure, attached to the earth's surface on one
end.  This structure could be used to move vehicles along
its outer surface, like an elevator does.  A "space
elevator".

     The elevator cars on such an elevator could lift upward
by electromagnetically dragging against the upward stream
of mass within the tube.  Low friction tracks, such as
magnetic levitation
 tracks, would make the process moreefficient.  No fuel for this process is needed to be lifted.

     The mass stream in the tube travels in a circuit,
returning back and forth between earth surface and somewhere
in space.  Ideas are built on ideas; a version proposed by
Keith Lofstrom would cycle from one point on earth surface
upward, across some great distance, then return to surface,
be reversed, go back along the route to the starting point,
all in a continual flow.  Expanding on this, Earle Smith
proposed a continuous flow from one point on the earth, circling out to geophysical earth orbit (GEO), continuing on
around the earth to return to the intiial point on the
earth, again in a continuous stream.  Rod Hyde proposed a
version that would essentially go straight up; the stream
would be reversed in direction at its upward end, returning
down alongside the upward part of the stream, back to the
starting point on earth, back and forth between earth and
space.     All these versions are powered by electricity. The mass stream is pushed along by magnetic fields interacting
between the stream and magnetic fields alongside the tube.
Rod Hyde envisioned the stream as being composed by vast
quantities of berylium disks, each with a magnet attached.
The stream would be powered by electricity, and a large
version consuming as much electricity as a large city, would
be able to lift all the billions of humans on the planet
now, out into space in just two weeks' operating time. Hyde,
Lofstrom and Smith presented these concepts in 1984.  Their structures are very big and expensive, and untried.  Putting
such structures up seems a major undertaking with much
risk, even worldwide.  However, these structures have the
potential of being able to move the bulk of humanity out
into space.  If they had somewhere to go, that is.  It would
take a lot of courage to put such structures up, it seems.

     Getting back into the creative thought mode, let's
continue on with the design.  Where do the people go, in
space?  Well, there are limits to where these elevators can go, for they are essentially compression structures,
depending on compressive force to hold them together.  Thus,
they would not be able to go beyond the geophysical orbit;
in fact, Hyde's version depends upon earth gravity to
reverse the flow back toward earth surface at its upward
end, thus not able to reach GEO by itself.  And anything
getting off these elevators short of GEO would fall back to
earth, fast, unless accellerated adequately first, as in
Lofstrom's Launch Loop versions.  GEO, geosynchronous earth orbit, seems ideally suited for the upward terminal of such
elevators, because GEO is stationary relative to the
earth's surface.  Thus one end of the elevator is on the
earth, motionless; the upward end is stationary at GEO.
Anywhere else would require relative orbital motion; the
connection between elevator and upward orbital terminal then
would become high-velocity, requiring complex energy
exchanges as payload moves between them.  At GEO, payload
directly
connects to the orbital terminal.  Hyde's versionof the space elevator might use a long tether balanced
across GEO, the tether's downward end reaching the top of
the elevator, so as to span the remaining distance to GEO.

     Here at GEO we can build space colonies, space habitats
or settlements.  If we build the wheel-shaped Island One
Stanford Torus space settlement design envisioned by NASA in
1975 (ref. NASA SP-413,although for use at L-5 then), there
is room for 1,475,000 of these wheels, if strung to
getherlike pearls on a necklace for mother earth, circling the
earth above the  equator, 5 earth radii above the planet's
surface.  In the Stanford Torus design, the wheel is over a
mile in diameter, rotating so as to provide earth normal
artificial gravity effects, and the wheel innertube is 427
feet wide inside.  Divided up into three secions of
agriculture, alternated with 3 sections for human residence
and light industry in closed ecosystems, this single ring of
Stanford Torus wheel-like habitats aroun
d the earth wouldhouse up to 15 billion people, far more than the whole earth
has now or possibly could accommodate well.  Solar energy
abounds up there, on the average seven times as much as
arrives on an equal surface on the earth. Sunshine abundant
for growing crops in the agricultural areas on the Stanford
Torii, which in turn feed livestock and the human
population.

     It would be well for there to be many such elevators
connecting earth to this GEO habitat ring, perhaps each
nation would have at le
ast one elevator.  The initialStanford Torii would be built from materials lifted up from
the earth, along with the robotic machinery to continually
build more of these habits.

     Once there are these space settlements up there, a few
at least, with 10,000 people each, the picture of space will
look different.  Building spacecraft up there, it will be
relatively easy to return to the moon, from where we will
get most of the structural raw materials for most of the
Stanford Torus habitats to be built in G
EO.  Trips out to get asteroids for more material would become as commonplace
as airplanes now land and takeoff at airports.  Water and
other valuable chemicals might come from the moons of the
outer planets, if we choose not to take the water from earth
glaciers instead, to water the agricultural areas in the
space habitats.

     Electrical power to run the space habitats comes from
solar power stations, designed in the '60's.  The same
technology might well be used alongside each of the space
elevator structures, supplying power to operate the elevators, instead of using energy from earth.  Indeed, the
solar power satellites could put extra energy into
accellerating the elevator mass streams in the downward
direction, which could be drawn off from the stream's
kinetic energy at the earth surface contact sites, to supply
electrical power to power whatever human civilization
remains on the planetary surface.  However, hopefully
humanity will be responsible enough to have people only on
earth surface to restore the planetary ecology, and run vacation resorts for GEO ring residents.

     This overall design of kinetically-supported space
elevators linking a ring of space habitats located at GEO,
all powered by solar power station technology, and with
transportation materials link from the ring to the moon and
elsewhere in space, seems cohesive.  Thus it is due further
design work.  To deveop technology and get real-world
experience with the dynamics of long space elevator-like
structures, perhaps the concepts cou
ld be reduced toessences.  For example, the mass stream perhaps could be
glass fibers, with magnetic material embedded within the
fiber at specific distances along it.  These fibers could be
electromagnetically accellerated within a fine tube, say 20
mils in diameter.  The tube would be pumped free of air, and
the fibers prevented from contact with the tube walls via
electromagnetic fields along the tube.  With a reflector of
the steam of fibers at one end, the reflection process
results in a tensile force ; this force could provide lift energy for the end of the tube.  As in the larger versions,
some of the kinetic energy of the rising high-velocity mass
stream of glass fibers would be used to support the tube
along its length.  Steering of the rising end could be
accomplished by shifting the center-of-gravity of the
reflector relative to the tube, providing off-balance
lateral forces, resulting in a steering mechanism.  The
stream would be accellerated on the earth surface; coiled
prior to raising, the volume of this example would be only be equivalent to a cube 50 feet on an  edge, and the length
still be able to reach almost to GEO.  A longer version
could emplace a seed elevator of the kind that loops from
earth surface, out around to GEO at the opposide side of the
earth, continuing to loop back to the starting site on
earth surface.  Bundles of such micro-diameter space
elevators might be used to support very large elevator cars
going to GEO, carrying materials, tools, and personnel to
build the first space habitats there.

   This design for an expanding human civilization located
in near-earth (GEO) space, linked directly to the earth
surface by kinetically-supported space elevator structures,
powered by solar satellite power technology, and a healing
of the earth's ecological system, would require only
technology development, not major breakthroughs in science.
The untested basic concepts of elevator transportation into
space need to be demonstrated to the public eye, as well as
catching the public awareness for presentation of such opportunities to take the ecological load off of mother
earth while at the same time provide for a greatly
expanding human civilization.  Given the viability of this
scenario, the implementation of it would remain the decision
of a responsible humanity.  If undertaken as a major effort
(say, using half of what each nation now spends on defense
preparations each year), this would become one of the great
adventures of all time for the majority of humans now living
on earth surface.

    References: GEnie Spaceport Library, files # 690, 671,
655, 644, 634, 629, 592, 581, 573, 563, 553, and 475.

by James Edward David Cline ("Jed"); SSN 525-82-1047
Van Nuys, California   February 9, 1989