KESTS to GEO Website

KESTS to GEO Questions & Answers:

A Transporting Bridge to the Vast Resources of Nearby Space, One Approach to Enabling a Long-Term High Quality Sustainable Future for Mankind and the Earth's Ecosystem

Q1: What is it ? ("KESTS to GEO")

A1: "KESTS to GEO" is an acronym, standing for "Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure to Geostationary Earth Orbit." The KESTS is a very unconventional electrically powered transportation structure which continuously lifts vehicles up from the ground to high earth orbit and gently back. This transportation structure is supported by the kinetic energy of high velocity mass stored circulating within itself, energy which is also tapped to lift vehicles up to space and back. KESTS to GEO is like a giant electric motor, in a sense; so large that it completely encircles the Earth filling in an Orbital Transfer Trajectory shape between the ground and GEO, linking a site on the equator to Geostationary Earth Orbit far above the opposite side of the planet. It is a kind of electrically powered space elevator for economically moving large quantities of people and goods between ground and high earth orbit, GEO, to greatly expand the resource base for civilization in the near future ...potentially 20 year timeframe..., if people would choose to do so. It is a vast electrically powered lifting bridge.

Q2: What would support the huge weight of such an enormous bridging rail structure?

A2: Centrifugal force within an electric motor, mostly. The motor extends completely around the planet, so the outward centrifugal force is in opposition to the planet's inward gravitational force. The support is topped off by momentum coupling by modulated electrodynamic drag against the upward-moving armature mass streams for servo positioning. It is like an immense centrifuge encircling the earth, the outward centrepetal force balancing the force of the Earth's gravity. Like an immense electric motor completely around the planet, its massive armature mass stream moving at velocities far above orbital velocity to provide a resultant outward force to balance the inward gravitational force on the motor's stator structure with its live loads. This is energy stored kinetically within the structure, analogous to the stored energy of pressurized air supporting the shape of a balloon.

Q3: What keeps the high velocity motor armature segments from burning up in the atmosphere?

A3: The high velocity armature mass stream travels in a hard vacuum inside the motor's stator, along maglev tracks. The motor's armature mass stream travels within a hard vacuum, enclosed within the motor's stator structure, along maglev tracks of special types. The armatures thus stay out of contact with the atmosphere.

Q4: How would it lift people and goods up to GEO?

A4: Spacecraft rail cars are lifted along the KESTS by electrodynamic braking against the upward-bound portions of the armature mass streams. The rail spacecraft move along the structure between ground and GEO by electromagnetically coupling to the upward-bound portions of the armature mass streams, effectively dragging them up by electrodynamic braking against the upward bound high velocity armature mass stream. Thus the spaceraft need carry no fuel for their journeys up to GEO, since their lift energy is supplied by the kinetic energy stored within the armature.

Q5: How is it different from Keith Loftstrom's "Launch Loop" concept?

A5: Both were dynamic structures strengthened and lifted ttoward space by centrifugal force; the Launch Loop was a continuous belt unable to deal with varying gravitational field strength, and it only reached the fringes of the atmosphere, so was only able to be a launch site for rocket propelled vehicles starting from just above the atmosphere, not near GEO.The innovative "Launch Loop" concept was one of the concepts which let to the KESTS to GEO concept. It was to have been a giant loose belt moving rapidly between two points on the ground, the centrifugal force of the loose belt flinging the belt outward in its travel, so high that it would reach above the atmosphere. It wouold lift rocket propelled spacecraft to above the atmosphere for more efficient launch from there, 90 miles up. The Launch Loop itself wouldn't put anything into orbit, however, and the vast majority of transportation energy to space still had to be provided by the rocketfuel lifted up there above the atmosphere.

Q6: In 2000 it cost $10,000 per kg to put payload in GEO, why would one choose to put much there?

A6: The KESTS to GEO operates with no load imposed upon the Earth's ecosystem energy reserves. The KESTS to GEO uses an entirely diferent transportation technique to lift payload between the ground and GEO; it is electrically powered and would soon provide its own transportation energy from Solar Power Stations it emplaces in GEO, thus it in no load upon the Earth's ecosystem energy reserves. If you calculate the amount of energy added to payload by virtue of having it lifted from the ground to GEO, it is only 17.20 kWh per kg. At a cost of 10 cents per kWh, that is only $1.72 of energy cost added by lifting it from the ground to GEO. KESTS is an electrically powered lifting structure supported by stored kinetic energy within the structure, so lift could be quite efficient, hopefuly approaching that 17.2 kWh figure. At $1.72 per kg instead of $10,000 per kg, suddenly the economics provide whole new kinds of things to happen. And from the first of the Solar-Electric Powerplants it emplaces in GEO, will come the electrical energy needed to power the transportation system thereafter, no load on the Earth's ecosystem energy reserves.

Q7: What would KESTS to GEO be good for?

A7: Solve the world's need for electrical power by emplacing many huge SSPS in GEO; emplacing total recycling plants in GEO and transporting the material back and forth to the ground; provide lift to a highly efficient launch site for spacecraft headed to the Moon and beyond seeking raw construction materials; and ability to lift huge numbers of people cheaply from ground to high earth orbit space habitats. Lifting the construction materials for enough Solar Satellite Power Stations built in GEO to provide the whole world with abundant clean electric power, is one use, and the SSPS would also provide the electric power required to power the KESTS thereafter. With huge lift capacity, enormous solar powred total recycling plants can be built in GEO, and the world's toxic industrial wastes could be economically lifted up there for conversion into its component chemical elements in giant mass-spectrometer-like plants in GEO, the refined materials be returned to the ground for re-use. It makes the starting point for all rocket launches to be from spaceports in GEO, alrady 91% up out of the Earth's gravitational well. And the huge space colonies envisioned back in the mid 1970's (for use at L5, for example) can be modified for construction in GEO, and be a walk-on to the spacetrain on the ground, walk-off into the GEO space colonies - type transportation experience that would make GEO an easy extention of the Earth surface civilization.

Q8: How would KESTS to GEO be used to solve the world's growing problem of the accumulated unrecyclable toxic wastes of civilization?

A8: The basic principles used in Mass Spectrometers, expanded enormously in the ideal environment of hard vacuum in space, could provide a way to build high capacity solar powered total recycling plants in GEO; the KESTS cheap transportation costs provides the way to get the toxic wastes to the recycling plants and to return the resulting purified materials for re-use in manufacturing back on the ground. In the abundant hard vacuum free-fall environment of GEO, huge total recycling plants could be built, ant the KESTS would provide inexpensive transportation of the toxic wasts up to GEO for separation ointo its constituent chemical elements, then return the pure materials back to ground for re-use in making new things. These total recycling plants would use principes long used in mass spectrometer instruments in the past, separating plasma materials by their mass-charge ratio as they move past an electromagnetic field, their curvature a function of their characteristic mass-charge ratio. Nuclear wastes as well as hazardous wastes produced by industrial processes could be processed this way.

Q9: What happens to the companies now building ground launch vehicles, once KESTS are built?

A9: They change their product's design for use in a hard vacuum, and conduct launch operations from the ideal high point of GEO. The launch point for destinations beyond GEO is from GEO instead of from the ground. Chemically propelled launch vehicles still will need to be built, and launched from there. Since GEO is already 91% up out of the Earth's gravitational well, rockets easily reach from there throughout the solar system, to bring back raw materials and for large scale exploration and colonization.

Q10: How is KESTS to GEO different from the Artsutanov-type anchored earth tether type space elevator concepts?

A10: KESTS is a compression structure elliptically encircling the planet; the anchored tether is a linear structure in tension extending straight upward from the equator to beyond GEO; their functionality and capabilities each are unique. The anchored tether space elevator is a tensile structure that would be supported by centrifugal force of mass centrifugally stretched out beyond GEO, and the vehicles that climb up and down it need to have propulsion energy supplied externally (as by beamed lasers from ground or space) or carried on board the vehicles. In contrast, KESTS is primarily a structure in compression, supported by kinetic energy stored within itself, and distributes lift energy itself to vehicles riding it to and from space. Although they would address similar markets, they are extremely different in shape, principle of operation, and transportation characteristics, as well as construction techniques. For example, the tether rises up vertically from the ground and passes through GEO; whereas KESTS to GEO is in the shape of an elliptical orbital transfer trajectory encircling the Earth eccentrically between ground level and GEO level on th opposite side of theplanet.

Q11: How would the anchored tether space elevator work?

A11: The anchored tether space elevator is a tensile structure that would be supported by centrifugal force of mass centrifugally stretched out beyond GEO, and the vehicles that climb up and down it need to have propulsion energy supplied externally (as by beamed lasers from ground or space) or carried on board the vehicles. The anchored tether earth space elevator concept would utilize a tether connected to the earth at the equator, the tether extending between the ground up past GEO, where the centrifugal force of the weight beyond GEO as the earth rotates, would provide the upward force to support the elevator structure. The lift energy for vehicles and their payloads needs to be lifted with the vehicles or be delivered via electrical concuctors on the tether or be beamed to the vehicles by lasers fromthe ground or space, each vehicle being tracked by its laser power source at all times as it goes up and down the tether. Brad Edwards proposed in 2002 a very interesting project to build such a tether type space elevator using a new carbon nanotube matrix material. Pairs of such tethers adjacent to each other could enable continuous bi-directioal movement of the vehicles lifting people and goods to space.

Q12: Why would one pursue KESTS to GEO technology if an anchored tether type space elevator technology was feasable in the near future?

A12: KESTS was originally created to bypass the extreme strength to weight ratio of material required for construction of the tether. The need to be able to lift large amounts of construction materials from the ground to GEO in the near future for construction of ample SSPS is rapidly growing urgent as civilization around the world clamors for lifestyles that match that of the United States, and fossil fuels are not replenishable, already these petrochemicals are being consumed at a rate that in each year we burn up as much as it took nature a million yuears to make. KESTS and tether type space elevators could make these power sources possible. Tethers could be built sooner than KESTS, probably, if the new tether material is truly adequate for thetask. KESTS to GEO would have advantages of itself delivering the lift energy to the vehicles that move along it to and from space, instead of having the energy to be supplied externally as in the tether elevator concepts, thus improving the reliability of energy delivery as well as its efficiency.

Q13: The Geostationary Earth Orbit is located in the Van Allen Radiation Belt, how can people living and working there be protected from such strong radiation?

A13: The original designs for large scale space colonies for occupancy at L-4 and L-5 were to be passively shielded, with a surrounding non-rotating equivalent of 2 meters of rocky material mass providing the shielding from radiation in space. In practice, probably the trapped energetic particles of the Van Allen Radiation Belts would get soaked up by the huge amounts of passive shielding once emplaced there by KESTS, and deliberate electromagnetic funnelling of the belt's charged particles into such passive mass repositories might well elliminate the high level of radiation now trapped there.

Q14: Why not just cut the population instead of doing big space projects?

A14: Cutting the population doesn't stop the production of unrecyclable toxic wastes nor of consumption of nonrenewable resources. It merely slows the rate of depletion of resources and accumulation of unrecyclable toxic wastes hurting the environment; it does not begin to solve the real problems. And it takes a lot of people to solve the problems. The choice to maintain a high level of civilization technology. The very long term fully sustainable level of lifestyle for people who have all their byproducts totally recyclable by nature, was fully developed at about 4,000 years ago. It would be advisable to prepare protected preserves for those people who choose to live that way in full natural recycling of their products by nature, perhaps a maximum worldwide population of a hundred thousand people. For the rest of the 6 billion of us, whether we know it or not, we are committed to an expansion into space to access the immense reserves of solar energy there, the off-planet physical material resources of the Moon and asteroids etc., and above all the ability to utilize abundant solar energy to totally recycle civilization's toxic waste products up there. The outlook for such enormous high-level high quality civilization is likely to be much longer than for those jungle people even though protected in the preserves; and certainly their level of lifestyle will be much more varied, comfortable and interesting than either those living in jungle strife or those in pastoral balance with nature. It is acknowledged, however that some kinds of people will elect to live in eternal jungle combat or in pastoral placidity; and for them, such places need to be provided, with severe population controls of course since nature can provide only a small amount of food for top-of-the-food-chain hunter-gatherers long-term.

Q15: Where can formal peer-reviewed published technical papers be found describing some of this KESTS to GEO concept?

A15: Although the original uploads of the early KESTS to GEO writings (starting in 1988) to public computer networks before the Internet became universally available, are to be found copied elsewhere on this website, and although the KESTS concept was shunned by Aerospace for over a decade due to its competitive potential for the conventional launch vehicle corporations, the bridge, rail and elevator nature of the KESTS to GEO concept makes it the basic domain of the Civil Engineers, even though it utilizes advanced electric motor technology, advanced maglev rail technology, and space sciences in general, as well as the archetectural and structural functions of Civil Engineering. For the author's formal peer-reviewed scientific conference presented papers which have been published in technical books, see the following American Society of Civil Engineers publications:

Cline, James E. David, "Kinetically Supported Bridge Vehicle Lift to GEO" in "Space 2002 Robotics 2002", pp. 8-21, proceedings of ASCE space manufacturing conference, published by American Society of Civil Engineers, 2002. Order site for Space 2002 proceedings =

Cline, James E. David, "Kinetically Strengthened Transportation Structures" in "Space 2000: The Seventh International Conference and Exposition on Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Business in Space", Published by American Society of Civil Engineers, 2000. Order site for Space 2000 proceedings =

And for an earlier formally published technical document containing a concept for a 200-1,000 person true space habitat construction technique, in preparation for large scale habitation in toroidal shaped rotating space habitats enabled by KESTS, (by copyright sharing, this document can also be found on this website) see

Cline, J.E.David., "Wet-Launch of Prefab Habitat Modules", Space Manufacturing 10, Proceedings of the 12th SSI-Princeton Conference, pp. 88-91, 1995.

Q16. If this all sounds like science fiction: the building of a dynamic structure from the ground to GEO, an electric motor so big that it encircles the whole Earth, a space elevator potentially expandable to be moving a million people a day to high earth orbit space habitats robotically built mostly of lunar materials 20 years from now, using mere technological development applying existing principles and materials. Why isn't this a science fiction story, where it seems to belong?

A16. Yes, it is much easier to evoke the vast complexities involved in the overall KESTS to GEO project as Science Fiction, instead of in peer-reviewed technical papers of a few pages each. (If and when a grant is obtained by the author, much more technical depth can be prepared as larger technical publications, of course.) So until some real quality sci fi authors can become interested in writing such stories, here is this author's efforts at sci fi writing about KESTSGEO, "Spacetrains Are For Peacetime". Enjoy, especially the maintenance and repair techniques implicitly evoked in Chapter 2 vers. 2!

A Work In Progress by James E. D. Cline, updated 2002 07 08

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