Number: 1071  Name: CENTRISTATION III

Address: J.E.D.CLINE1                Date: 891217

Approximate # of bytes: 6300

Number of Accesses: 28  Library: 4


Squarely on the path to space colonization, this concept features a centrifugal ring of space station modules, each of which are built to serve as fuel tanks/upper stage during launch. A pair of flyback engine modules place them each in orbit. Financing done by a real-time TV series showing development, ground testing, launches, and technological spinoffs.

Keywords: toroid,habitat,booster,moon,Phobos,TV


[Present comment: At the time I generated this concept, there was occasional talk that the empty external fuel tanks that could be left in orbit after Space Shuttle launches, instead of sending them to re-entry destruction, and thus be available for building things in LEO. However, there seemed to be no support for that idea.

The awareness that the fuel tank reperesented a lot of wasted launch mass put into orbit, and indeed from any multi-stage space launch, put together with the thought that living space in orbit was highly desirable; existing space stations in LEO were referred to being like living in a cramped submarine. What happened to the classic wheel-shaped rotating space station, such as in the 1950's Chesley Bonstell paintings and cover magazines? Docking of spacecraft had been done in orbit many times, surely it could be largely automated and teleoperated where necessary. So a little shift in viewpoint produced the idea of building largely empty space habitat modules for dual use, designed as modules for use in a space station in orbit, as well as for use as its own fuel tank during launch. The wall-mounted equipment and supply storage in the walls of the module would need to be limited to that which could withstand the cryogenic temperatures of the fuel and be sealed away from contact with fuel if need be.

Since this modified kind of fuel tank itself thus became its own payload, high efficiency of launch into LEO looked likely. An unmanned engine tug module with enough airframe to link the three Space Shuttle Main Engines to push on the  fank being lifted as well as shaped as re-entry glider for return to the launch site after each launch and placement into orbit and teleoperated docking to the prior module up there, and use of an unpiloted airbreathing booster vehicle which also would return to the airfield after each launch, would make the entire launch and initial construction process do-able without manned presence in orbit, all making it much safer and with the inevitable occasional loss in a launch costing no lives, much cheaper and safer overall.  The classic wheel shaped space station could be built in LEO and only when the modules were all tup ther and docked in the spoked wheel shape, would people arrive to add cables encircling the structure to take the centrifugal load away from the linked docks, and to remove the internal bulkheads, before spin-up to 1-gee internal artificial gravity. The wheel could be built initially on the ground and have its systems including agriculture checked out to a large extent, before sequentially disconnecting each module and launching it as its own fuel tank to join the re-assembled wheel in LEO.

I wrote a series of files on the GEnie Spaceport library, the folowing is one of them. I started a roundtable topic on the subject, but it got some caustic remarks clearly from those involved with the ISS project to my references to a "cheap space station" and then the chat was filled with spam, which was not able to be cleared by me, and so the topic was essentially dead.

However, I did get to write the concept into print copy ready form (using shareware word processing software intended for much lesser purposes, but it could do the multiple columns as required by SSI's format at the time), and do a presentation of it at the SSI Space conference in Princeton in 1995; and so it was published in the conference proceedings. As it was the first such conference I had attended, I did not know how to do a presentation, so I made lots of goofs; but it got done.

After publication in 1995, I communicated with Rockwell which had built much of the Space Shuttle and was winding down its part of the business, attempting to gain support for my concept, since clearly they had the basic technology I used in the conceptual design for the wheel space station's construction, and they built the SSME's there at the Rockwell plant in Canoga Park which was near where I lived; surely it would bring them more billions in business. They requested I send a synopsis of my concept, which I wrote up and gave them via the internet; after they evaluated it they said that they were only a contractor building things for NASA they were paid to do, and had no interest in promoting space projects; I was not even invited to speak with them even though I could bicycle to their building complex. In that imperious rejection of my concepts and of myself in the process, I learned something about the space business for what it really was.

Yet I still had naive dreams of the fantasy of the humane, wise greatness of mankind; and so I continued to create space transportation and utilization concepts, write up, put on the intenrnet and even make more presentations at space conferences, attempting to repay and expand on part of the dream of space travel and construction which had been the major focus of my life since my earliest childhood.

The paper that was published in 1995 can be seen here.

A Science Fiction novel I wrote which included the construction and use of such a Space Station, in difficult circumstances, titled "Building Up" can be read here; the space station project started in chapter 4 ... the story starts with an anchored earth tether project, if any are interested in that too.

J E D Cline 20071223]

                       CENTRISTATION III

         J. E. D. Cline                     Dec.  17, 1989

A pair of unmanned engine/control system flyback modules boost a segment of a centrifugal space habitat toroid into LEO; during launch, space station segment is serving as the fuel tank.

This document outlines a conceptual design that is squarely onthe path to space colonization. A low-cost, safe centrifugal space station, with its launching system, that is worthy of the 1990's. See sketch. This very economical space station conceptual design perhaps can rekindle America's interest in the adventure of space, while providing a solid stepping- stone towards extending mankind's living resources beyond earthsurface. An adventurous, yet practical, Space Station Habitat.


--utilizes proven technologies.

--a low-cost, versatile, rotating centrifugal 1-gee large space station is created.

--a new class of launch vehicles is created, consisting of apair of winged flyback modules containing only engines and control systems ... the first flyback engine cluster module drops off prior to orbital insertion, and the second smaller single-engine-module returns after placement of the habitat-module in position in orbit; and an upper stage which is built both as a furnished space station habitat module, and also as the fuel tank during launch.

This Space Station Habitat design is a segmented toroid, for indefinitely long habitation, a precursor to an Island-One Stanford Torus space habitat. Each segment of the torus circumference is built to also function as the upper stage and fuel tank during launch.  The reuseable engine(s) and control system return as stubby winged re-entry vehicles back to the launch pad site after finishing putting a segment of the toroid into LEO. (A pair of refurbishable strap-on boosters, perhaps of AMROC LOX/SRB form, could be used instead of the second flyback engine module).

                     --- PURPOSE AND ADVANTAGES ---


1. Economical, safe space station construction is achieved by building the toroidal habitat on the ground in nearly finished form; by shrinking the space shuttle orbiter to mere pair of unmanned engine/control system flyback stubby winged shapes; making each toroidal space station habitat segment into a fuel tank temporarily for the launch as the upper stage; and automatic docking of the modules to form the toroidal ring of dozens to hundreds of segments. The ring is then spun-up and ready for occupancy. The inhabiting workers reach the free-fall vacuum industrial environment by climbing through spokes to the toroidal ring's hub.

2. Centristation demonstrates space colonization, and quickly in the coming decade. As we know, large-scale space colonization potentially can be an alternative to the crowding out of fellow lifeforms on the planet, consuming finite natural resourses rapidly, and littering our home planet with enormous heaps of garbage and refuse.

3. This project supplies the drama of space colonization started in the 1990's. Mankind needs daily drama in life just like food and shelter. Witness the lure of television shows and newspaper headlines. Life in space needs to encompass all the functions of being human, in addition to being interesting and sometimes adventurous.  Life there needs to be shown to be capable of being very comfortable, safe, and supporting the mating and family-raising activities that humans normally need.  The drama of achieving these in the vast room and resources of space can excite the imagination of humanity, supplying a new confidence in the future of humanity and of planet earth's ecology. And Centristation could be modified for relocation at Mars' moon Phobos, or be boosted to GEO when KESTS  (Kinetic-Energy-Supported Transportation Structures) are operational. (An alternative way of financing this project thus might be to present it as an ongoing TV series, real-time, from inception to completion, showing also the spinnoffs developed by the Centristation project, such as recycling, agriculture, and group lifestyles in action.)

4. The rotating ring, or toroid shape, has long been in American awareness as the design for a permanently occupied space station, because it provides the artificial gravity needed for normal bodily function.  The centrifugal force simulated gravity is assumed to be able to provide the means to overcome the unhealthy effects of weightlessness, such as immune system disfunction, bone loss and muscular atrophy; and allow a human being to have normal bodily functions such as bathroom activities. And people need the companionship of other lifeforms: the animals, fish and plants also need "gravity."

5. While it is a testing ground for the Stanford Torus Island One much larger be built from lunar raw materials later..., it will test those self-sufficient agricultural processes and family lifestyles in the relatively nearby LEO.The habitat additionally serves as home to workers for adjacent free-fall, hard-vacuum manufacturing facilities, and is comfortable waystation for early manned missions back to the moon and perhaps beyond to Mars' moon Phobos.

(For a free drawing of this concept, send a SASE stamped, self-addressed envelope, to:

 JED Cline


 5632 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 110

 Van Nuys, CA 91401