Number: 475 Name: SPACE INSPIRATION
Address: J.E.D.CLINE1 Date: 880702
Approximate # of bytes: 11340
Number of Accesses: 41 Library: 3
Need for international cooperation in space. Five unusual forms of space transportation. Need for whole brain thinking in space planning and operations.
[Background: This is my testimony given (by me, J. E. D. Cline) to the National Commission on Space on future directions for the American space program, on November 14, 1985 at the California Academy of Science, Golden Gate Park, California. The testimony was well received by the three Commissioners present, and by the audience, much to my surprise, me being so very fearful of public speaking; but I had a very important message to give, I thought, so I endured it.
Perhaps indicative of the energy of the times then and now, simultaneous with the day-long series of testimonies being given to the NCS in the Museum's auditorium, was that in the hall next door, Lucas was filming his space adventure spoof "Howard The Duck."]
In enthusiasm for the future of mankind, let's build and maintain an open door now for our future, into space and back. This can prepare a way to maintain a high civilization advancement rate without destroying the ecology of Mother Earth that bore our physical development up to this point and is now supporter and host to us.
There is urgency to creating a permanent open door between Earth and space. The rapid rate of loss of high energy density fossil fuel resources could permanently close the door to space for humanity, for example.
There are five types of interesting space transportation projects which I am going to briefly bring to excite your imagination here. But first, I am going to point out some significant sociological, psychological and material benifits of a massively expanded space program.
An initial benefit is that of greatly increasingproductivity at home, and then spreading outinternationally, as people become inspired by the visions ofnew hope for mankind's future: theirs and their children'schildren. As the basic task is for all humanity, and indeedfor all Earth life-forms ultimately to benifit, discoveriesof new depths of international mutually-respectfultogetherness action toward common goals would belearned...hopefully in a wise manner.
For example, the ancient oriental cultures can teach us tocombine the types of thinking of both our left and rightbrain hemispheres, linking the highly educated analyticalleft brain hemisphere with the great non-verbaldesign-synthesizing prowess of the brain's right hemisphere.
And then there is the hope for reasonably early return oflarge amounts of useful materials processed in space so asnot to pollute the Earth environment with industrial processwastes. Made available to people here on Earth, materialslike foamed-steel could be used for lightweight fireproofhousing construction, and the construction ofenergy-absorbing freeway crash barriers.
Perhaps more subtle than the urge to ensure a maximum oflife options for our children, is the urge for adventurousstimulation of our dreams and actions. So here are a fewspace transportation projects which I would like now tobring up for your attention, perhaps with some uniqueness.
The first is a combination of several contemporary concepts:to close the energy cycle for the space shutle mainengines, its hydrogen and oxygen fuel would come fromelectrolyzed seawater made through the use of energy beameddown from a dedicated prototype small Solar Power Satellitein geosynchronous orbit. Another plus is that the microwavebeam is there for lift energy for experimental vehiclesriding up, possibly using the air it initially passesthrough as reaction mass for the early boost phase.
The second concept is someone elses: thedynamically-supported earth-tower proposed by Ron Hyde ofLRL. An immense transportation tower reaching from thesurface of the Earth up through the atmosphere and out intospace, it overcomes the inadequate strength of existingmaterials for such a structure through using stored-energyfor the main structural support. Rather large amounts ofelectrical neergy is used to accelerate vast quantities ofberylium disks, whose energy is then used to support theelevator and structural components by sharing a bit of theirenergy electrically as they whiz by. The system storesseveral days' worth of supporting kinetic energy for theinevitable powerplant down-times. A large version of this"Starbridge" elevator would be able to lift the mass of allhumanity out into space in a matter of weeks (if there werea place built for all of us out there!) In caution, one isreminded of the lesson of E-temen-an-ki, the biblical "Towerof Babel" that also was "to build a skyscraper building sotall as to enable man to enter the heavens." It'sconstruction was said to have been halted because theyfailed to learn how to truely communicate first. (Confoundit!). Ron Hyde shared this concept at a L-5 meeting in 1983;the basic concept of a centrifugally-supported Earth towerhad been proposed by K. Tsiolkovski in 1967. Ron Hyde'sproposal would overcome the difficulty shared by bothE-tamen-an-ki and Tsiolokovski: there are no known physicalmaterials nearly strong enough to do the job.
The third concept is based on an analogy of the "siphon",which is a device which lifts material up over a barier anddown the other side, without addition of energy from theoutside, once started. It is powered by the energydifferential existing between the starting point and thedestination point, and works only in one direction. Thegravitational space directly between the Moon and the Earthmight be envisioned as a gravitational hill with a shallowvalley on one side (the Moon"s surface), and a deep valleyon the other side (the Earth's surface); the peak of thehill is known as "L-1". Can we tunnel through this hill fromthe lunar valley floor? A siphon does that, energy-wise.
Here on Earth, we can siphon water through a rubber hose.Out there in space, siphon-like action might be acheivableby transfering energy from mass on the downhill (earthside)part of the trip, over to lift more material on the uphill(Lunarside) part. Electrical superconductor rails could beinstalled on a supporting tensile structure fastened on thesurface of the Moon, and electrically transfer the kineticenergy from decending electrical tractor-generators carryingpayload mass, over to lift more payload mass up off theLunar surface via electrical tractor motors. Space-ratedfiberglass is quite strong enough to carry the load if ithas a tapering cross-section; glass is an abundant materialon the surface of the Moon, available on-site forconstruction of this "Mooncable". At the L-1 balance point,in zero-gee, the main portion of payload mass would be castinto glider shapes, so that after traversing the earthsidepart of the cable, it can drop to glide the atmosphericportion of the trip to landing in oceans off seaports onEarth. I proposed this confidentially to NASA early in 1972, describing it as a profit-making enterprise.
The fourth concept is the use of a kinetic energy transfershuttle. In permanent eliptical orbit around the Earth-Moonpair, and with its main part massive enough to stay "cool"inside even in solar flares' radiation times, it dangles arope to graze the surface of the Moon as it passes by thefar side of the Moon. Readied payload on the Lunar surfacegrabs the long dangling rope (sometning like Hans Moravec'sSkyhook would have done on Earth), jerking it up off thesurface and storing its energy by whirling around the mainmass. The whirling continues as they go along thequasi-elliptical orbit until it passes near the Earth, thenwith precisely synchronized timing the payload is released,restoring the kinetic energy taken when lifting was done atthe Moon. The transfer shuttle then continues on aroundEarth, and heads back toward the Moon again. (Grab on at theMoon, whirl your energy until you jump off near the Earth.)
The fifth and last concept I wish to point out now, toinspire fresh creative thought in space transportationconcepts, might be called "tight orbiting" somewhatcryptically. We would need to find the strength ofcontemporary materials is enough to enable construction of avacum-enclosed, above orbital-velocity spinning ring-pair.Even at sea level (for example) each element along itscircumference would be at 18,000 mph and thus in orbitthere, enclosed inside a vacuum housing. Faster than18,000mph would possibly exert a force toward a higherorbit, possibly lifting payload with it. A pair ofcontra-rotating parallel horizontal spinning rings, drivenand supported by appropriate magnetic fields, wouldhopefully cancel out the urge to precess (my thinking getsuncomfortably fuzzy about here); otherwise it would have tobuilt near an Earth pole to keep it from tilting itself asthe Earth rotates. Questions are: will it stay together?Does faster mean that it will go up? How small can it bemade?
As a 17 year old boy, I and my cousin Howard tried to see ifa gyroscope could be spun up fast enough so that itscircumference would reach orbital velocity at the Earth'ssurface. The thought was more toward the idea of using it tofling a something off its edge up and out toward space. Weused a big 3600 rpm electric motor and rigged up suitablebelt and pulley ratios for the experiment. However, longbefore it got up to that speed, we discovered the limits tothe strengths of materials, and with a bang the maingyroscope spinner exploded, vanishing from sight. That thefragments missed both of us is memorably quite a relief tothis day.
There is danger in building the doors opening the future ofEarth lifeforms to space, but there is adventure there too,to stimulate the human organism with delightful excitement!(Postscript: Challenger and her crew's last adventure wentsour, and bitter was the excitement.)
This general concept of the space program is really aboutcaring for our civilization's continuing advancement whilecaring for the needs of the other kinds of living creatureswith which we share this earth. By bringing our life to thenow-lifeless parts of our solar system, and taking theindustrial load off of Earth's ecology, we gain immenseresources of material energy and room, and make a way tobegin the healing of the wounds of planet earth's livingecosystem. Out there in space we can build our living spacejust as we choose it to be, made out of extraterrestialmaterials.
Those of us who are here-and-now action-oriented people, arethe "do-ers" who can make these visions physically real.One task we have is to find ways to prevent these ones of usfrom becoming overwhelmed by visions of power strugglegames, with blaming finger ready to point away fromthemselves. We can do this by continuing to help them remainaware of the greater vision, of responsible belongingnessas part of creation, yet in adventure.
Our abilities to exert power over our environment and toanalyze our activities are tremendous. To these, then, weneed to add equally powerful abilities to pattern wholedesigns of envisioned possibilities. Technologicaladventures can evoke designs of exhuberantly happylifestyles for our children, and maybe even forourselves...if we are quick enough.
By James Edward David Cline