BACKGROUND: After my success in presenting my 1995 paper "Wet Launch of Prefab Habitat Modules" I was ready to finally go for getting my "KESTS to GEO" concept formally published in the literature. The goals of the Space Studies Institute seemed very much in line with the goals of my concept, although I did not then realize that it was an organization more formed to carry out the visions of its outstanding founder, the late Princeton University professor Gerard O'Neill's, instead of furthering the larger goal of rapidly enabling large scale inhabitation of space by human civilization unless also showing the advantages of having a Ph.D. Naively I prepared my paper as camera ready copy, with revisions by the session chair Leik Myrabo who also had guided me in details of preparing my 1995 paper. Borrowing $3,000 from my mother to do the paper and make the presentation trip, she was willing to loan me the money realizing it was a dream I had to do and she wanted to help me do it. I now was preparing the paper on a Macintosh computer, my Performa 630, learning new software and struggling to learn to do graphics on the computer as well as the word processing to meet the formatting requirements of the proceedings. I got it done; the original graphics, resized, are included in the html rendition below.
When I got laughed out of the conference during the final summary session, not even mentioning the title of my paper in the published proceedings for the 1997 space conference, I had to return home as a crushed person, and advised my mother of the results. She too felt the stress and did not live much longer after that, tragically.
The photo here is of me leaving Princeton for the last time, under the cold watchful gaze of the bronze lion guarding the steps at Nassau Hall, seems symbolic to me:
So, here is the contents of the paper I presented to the Space Studies Institute's 1997 space conference at Princeton NJ, as reset into html form:
KINETIC ENERGY SUPPORTED ELECTRICALLY POWERED TRANSPORTATION STRUCTURES
James E. D. Cline
9800-D Topanga Cyn Blvd #118, Chatsworth, CA 91311
Generalizing and expanding upon specific ground-to-space concepts created in the 1980's, Kinetic Energy Supported Electrically Powered Transportation Structures (KESTS) have the potential of enabling truly massive space colonization in earth orbit. Compressive strength of materials limitations are bypassed by using the kinetic energy of a stream of orbital velocity mass elements circulating within the loop structure, compressing their trajectories toward the planetary center, supporting weight against the force of gravity. Electromagnetic coupling of the kinetic energy of the stream of mass elements also supports the weight of the evacuated tubing in which it flows, and transfers propulsion energy to vehicles traveling along its vast bridge-like structure. It can also serve as a power transmission and storage link between solar satellite thruster powerplants and the earth surface's electrical power grids. Stabilized by laterally-coupling mass stream pairs and by active position feedback servo systems, these are dynamic structures. The massive potential payload capacity of such electrically powered transportation structures linking earthís surface and earth orbital altitudes, conceivably could enable construction and habitation of an Orbital Habitat Ring around the Earth, a site where civilization can resume expansion utilizing the great resources of space. Perhaps these concepts can inspire humanity to reach new heights of healthy vigor.
Copyright © 1997 by James Edward David Cline.
A Brief Description of the Idea
Examples of kinetic energy being used to support structural shapes have been around a long time. Consider the kinetic energy of pressurized gas within a balloon or spacecraft fuel tank enabling the shape of that structure and its ability to carry load. Consider the arch of water in a fountain bringing water up to waiting lips. And consider the cowboy's lasso's loop, maintained in a circular shape by the spin of the circle of rope.
Let's expand on that lasso's loop picture. Imagine that the whirling lasso is almost frictionlessly sliding around inside a rim; the rim is slightly smaller than the lasso's loop so as to squeeze the lasso into a smaller radius than it would naturally assume, thus the lassoís centrifugal force is producing a small outward radial force on the compressing rim.
Then imagine that the rope's loop is sufficiently large as to go completely around the planet, contacting the planetary surface where electric motors input the energy for maintaining the loop's rotation; and continuing on to arch high above the far side of the planet before returning to the ground contact point, in a circulating loop.
To couple the electrical energy into the loop, make the loop the rotor of an electrical motor, perhaps looking more like a linear motor there.
To prevent the rope/loop from burning up in the atmosphere, enclose it within evacuated tubing. Support the weight of that tubing by compressing the trajectory of the rotating loop toward the ground, electromagnetically coupling the distributed weight of the tubing to the spinning loop. That tubing is stationary relative to the earth surface, and appears as if it were a structure upon it. Call the rotating lasso's rope a ìmass stream.î Since the earth is rotating once every 24 hours, the structure must also do so, being attached to the ground; so to link this planetary rotation to the structure, pair up counter rotating mass streams, bonded laterally together by their tubing to force a common trajectory between them. And electromagnetically couple the pulsing passage of the mass stream past any point on its circumference to provide lift energy to vehicles clinging to tracks along the tubing. And thus we have a picture of a basic form of a KESTS, or Kinetic Energy Supported Electrically Powered Transportation Structure. Such a transportation structure potentially could reach as high as Geosynchronous Earth Orbit.
KESTS: Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structures
A generalized concept unifying the visionary 1980's structural concepts of Hyde, Lofstrom, and Smith is offered here, and expanded upon.1,2,3 Since the 1980's, such megaprojects have been disregarded in favor of scout-type space exploration, but the current impending crisis of mankind's weight upon the earthsurface ecosystem, suggests re-consideration and expansion of these concepts for a massive migration of civilization into nearby space resources. New ideas for emplacing these enormous structures are described, and the applications enabled by new forms of such structures. A new way of self-powering the structure from solar electric mass thrusters is described here, which potentially could also supply surplus electrical energy to earth surface commercial power grids. It is offered that space technology thus has a chance of enabling a vast human civilization in near-earth space while also enabling the restoration of a balanced earth surface ecosystem, which surely would be very good news for a conscientious humanity's long term survival prospects.
A kinetically-supported active structure would be, in general, a structure which has as its primary resistance to deformation, the force of deflection of a large high velocity mass stream circulating within the structure; feedback control mechanisms intelligently actively guiding the application of this force based on the changing loads on the structure. The potential length of a kinetically-supported active structure is enormous, as is its expected payload capacity. Such rail-like transportation structures would far exceed the dimensions normally limited by the strength of materials, by being supported by the electromagnetically-coupled aggregate downward deflection of high velocity mass streams circulating within them. Their payload capacity potential thusly would be vastly greater than that which conventional reaction engine technology can provide, and doing it with minimal environmental impact. They would be active structures, as contrasted with passive structures, in that they would use feedback-stabilized energy to maintain them. Similarly, kinetically supported active structures would use position sensing in a feedback path to the ground mass stream re-acceleration point(s) modifying the internal mass stream velocity vectors so as to counteract deflections of the structure due to shifting payload weights, oscillation, wind loads, and response to impacts that might happen. Once built and supported using ground-based electrical power, space-based solar electric power would provide energy for it, such as dedicated SSPS in GEO, and/or solar powered thrusters located high along the structure providing all of the support and transportation energy used by the structure, and provide some intermediate active position feedback corrective vectors modulating the mass stream at their locations. The basic configuration of a KESTS structure, of the type being mostly discussed here, would connect at the equator and loop around the earth extending to far above the far side of the equator. Generally, kinetically supported active structures would utilize electromagnetic exchange of energy between masses in relative motion between each other, resembling an enormous distributed linear motor. They would have internal storage of an immense supply of energy, composed of the kinetic energy of pairs of very large continuous mass streams circulating along its length moving at orbital velocities, also intrinsically distributing transportation energy to payloads moving along it. They consist of pairs of laterally-coupled tubes linking counter rotating mass streams so that the whole structure rotates with the earthís rotation.
The Overall Concept Into Which KESTS Fits
The overall concept is of a technology of efficient large-scale transportation of people and goods which involves extreme changes in altitude, potentially from earthsurface as far up as geosynchronous earth orbit. The potential of such an adequate transportation system to enable much of the near-future human population to choose to move into rings of near-earth-surface-normal-interior space habitats could enable the restoration of the earth surface ecosystem back to long term normal balance, while also enabling humanity to expand civilization enormously by living in man-made habitats, as now but located close in earth orbit, essentially free from need of resource destruction on the surface ecosystem thereafter. This very worthy goal hopefully balances the highly conjectural state of the technology at this point in time.
Building transportation structures, a form of bridges, to connect the ground all the way up to orbital altitudes may seem absurd; however, such structures are being considered here. The compressive strength of known materials is very inadequate to the task of bearing the weight of such immense structures, so the compressive load would largely be carried by compression of the trajectory of mass streams circulating within the structure at above orbital velocities. The mass streams are referenced to the earth surface, so the load of the weight of the structure, and payload moving in vehicles upon it, is transferred by the mass streams to the ground load bearing. The pulsing electromagnetic energy of magnets contained within the mass stream is inductively coupled to the distributed load of the structure, and to the vehicles traveling upon the structure. Similarly, energy is put into the structure by electromagnetic coupling to the mass stream.
Basic Principles Of Kinetic Energy Supported Structures
Instead of building with tensile and compressive members, which have limits in their strength of materials and thus limits to their size, consider the possibility of using stored energy within the bridge structure to support it, to augment the chemical bond energy energy now providing its strength.
Picture, if you will, the immense kinetic energy of a massive pair of orbital velocity mass streams, flowing in a hard vacuum, circulating within channels along the length of such a bridge structure. The kinetic energy of those mass streams are electromechanically coupled to the structure of the bridge, providing support for the bridge structure and its live loads through downward radial compression of the mass stream trajectories, concurrently distributing energy to move those live loads along its length from the Earth's surface up to the desired orbital altitude and back down again to the Earth's surface, in a laterally coupled parallel pair of continuous loops. Most of the energy is stored within the kinetic energy of the circulating mass streams; only a small fraction of the mass stream's kinetic energy would be used each time around the loop, thereby providing a buffer against transients.
Generally, a KESTS would maintain its shape against forces acting against itself by using the kinetic energy of rapidly moving mass within itself to resist those forces. Energy coupling between the mass stream's packets and the tubing/track/vehicular parts of the structure is electromagnetic. The mass stream's intrinsic path is maintained by automatically re-optimizing the velocity of each of the packets at thrust points along it's path at the earthsurface contact re-initialization sites, thrusters, and benders.
Significant features of such a transportation system are that it would use electrical energy instead of chemical energy for transportation of payloads, would use part of its internally stored kinetic energy to do the work both of holding the structure up and to power payload vehicle movement along its path, would be stabilized against changing forces against them by active position feedback servo systems, and eventually provide excess electrical power to associated consumers as well as provide its own power from associated space-based solar-electric powerplants.
General Forms Of Kinetic Structures
KESTS are structures raised upon a planetary surface which resists the force of gravity by utilizing downward compression of a high velocity mass stream circulating around within the structure. There are several potential shapes of KESTS:
1. 1. The shape of a vertical tower or fountain, where mass streams circulate vertically up and down, requiring a strong magnetic field short radius turn- around half loop on the ground to catch the downward moving mass stream, and swing it around back upward again while restoring its exit velocity;
2. 2. Surface-to- surface arch, where the two surface contact points are widely separated, which also requires a short radius turn-around half loop on the ground at each end of the bridging arch; and
3. 3. surface-to-space above the far side of the planet above the equator there, which utilizes the planet's gravitational field itself to turn the mass streams around. This latter shape, which is the form primarily being considered here, has several variations, including those with two surface contact sites which are mirrored about the equatorial plane, and multiple KESTS which are interlocked at their crossover points in space to form a web. A KESTS which circles the planet, from the surface out and around the planet to high above the far side of the globe, such as to LEO or GEO, and continuing on around to its surface starting site, could be considered a special case of the arch shape, where the two surface ends of the arch bend around the round planet to meet at the same site, and the round planetary gravitational field provides the primary force to bend the mass streams around into a continuous circulation loop.
The dynamics which can be envisioned at this time for this form of KESTS involve the coupling of the mass stream to its environment. In some ways resembling the spinning rotor of an electric motor, the mass of this rotor is going around faster than the orbital velocity at any point, held lower by the weight of the sustained loads of passive structure and its live loads. The rotor, or mass stream, couples to its environment only through electromagnetic and electrostatic fields. Pushing from the earthsurface contact anchor re-initialization site, the mass stream is re-accelerated and repositioned to restore energy consumed along the KESTS pathway, compensating for live loads and lateral forces on the KESTS. From this re-initialization site, the mass stream heads back upward, electromagnetically dragging weakly against the passive structure around its path, as well as dragging against coupling to vehicles tapping that energy to lift them up the KESTS. This passive structure involves the evacuated tubing in which it flows, the shear coupling between counter rotating stream tubes, and the guidance tracks for live loads such as passenger vehicles. Live loads being lifted along the KESTS exert a downward force on the structure's mass stream, but live loads which are decelerating back toward the earth surface exert an upward force on the tracks thus adding energy back into the transportation system.
Other major forces on the mass stream come from passive weight "benders" for changing the shape of the KESTS, and solar-electric thrusters which support their sub-orbital velocity's weight by reaction to thrusting downward on the downward-flowing mass streams, thus adding solar-derived energy to the mass stream's energy.
The Mass Stream Packets
The mass stream is composed of packets performing several functions. Their primary function is to provide the storage and exchange of the kinetic energy which supports the compression load of the structureís weight, and distributes energy to move payload along the structures. Some packets may also function as vehicles transporting payload within the mass stream itself, and other forms of packets may be the payload itself on a one-way trip up or down as raw material. Packets need to be designed to resist contact with each other and with the tubing wall, somehow avoiding such contact wear; so perhaps they will need periodic automatic inspection and repair/replacement. Packets exchange energy within the KESTS by rising/falling in a gravitational field, and electrically through permanent and induced magnetism, and electrostatically. The electric field energy exchanges support the structure, center the mass stream within the tubing, input and extract energy to the mass stream, sense packet position and velocity, for re-initialization processes, and prevent physical abrasive contact.
Planetary Body Access Structural Shapes
Besides the vertical loop and the parabolic arch shapes, there is another basic form. If the mass stream is sufficiently large as to extend upward at a tangent to the earth's surface, it could continue on to be gradually bent by the earth's gravitational field to circle the earth to return to its point of origin, such as from a point on the equator circling around the earth back to itself. All the way around the Earth, extending far out into space on the opposite side of the planet from its surface contact central point. Non-equatorial surface contact
points are conceivable, needing a mirroring contact point on the opposite side of the equator from itself, where either direct turn-around loops are located, or instead full loops interchange at their upper crossover point.
Applications of Planetary Body Access Kinetic Structures
Such large kinetic structures could provide transportation capability millions of times greater than what we currently have. This massive capacity would totally change mankind's relationship with space. The experience of building and utilizing a Stanford Torus space settlement in the Clarke Belt, constructed entirely of resources from the earth surface, could teach us a lot which would help in the design of more of the settlements, as well as learn technological and sociological techniques useful on Earth herself. The first space settlements in the Clarke Belt, permanently connected to earth surface by the kinetic structures, create a beachhead for returning the Moon, this time to create the industrial resource base for building the main structure of vast numbers of those settlements in the Clarke Belt. For example, building just one continuous string of Island-One type 10,000 resident-each Stanford torus space settlements all the way around the earth-circling Clarke Belt, would provide residential areas and supporting agricultural areas for up to 15 billion people. This would enable a vastly expanding human civilization while taking their load off of Mother Earth.
Emplacement Of KESTS
The enormous difficulties in emplacement of KESTS into space from earth surface is sometimes glossed over, in the enthusiasm for the tremendous potential of the KESTS to provide truly massive efficient payload transfer between Earth surface and space near the Earth. However, there is frustration in trying to figure out how to get the KESTS up there in the first place. Suggestions so far have been by Keith Loftstrom, Rod Hyde, Earle Smith, and the author.
Early Emplacement Concepts
The techniques by Loftstrom and Smith involve laying the loop mechanism on Earth surface across at least one ocean, then accelerating the loop mechanism until it rises, or by carrying the upper portion of the loop aloft with balloons prior to acceleration. Hyde's vertical form of KESTS would be built by inserting new evacuated sections at the Earth surface launch point, incrementally raising the upper reflector end as sections are added at its surface base.
KESTS Emplacement by Flying Nose-Reaction Propulsion
The thrust of a mass stream against a structure which produces a sudden 180 degree turn around of the mass steam, much as Rod Hydeís ìStarbridgeî fountain structure would have done, suggests another emplacement means. Making the tube diameter a small fraction of an inch and of flexible tubing would enable a small ground construction site and expendable R&D launches. A large circular mass driver would accelerate the mass stream up to , say, 20,000 mph while flowing within evacuated tubing which is configured as a large coil. At the start of the launch the weight of the nose
thruster, which provides the 180 degree turnaround of the mass stream within itself, needs to be much less than the force of the mass stream slamming against it to be electromagnetically thrown backward by the nose thruster. Headed upward, the nose thruster would resemble a conventional reaction engine launch, if the version merely releases the mass stream into the environment once it has expended its push against the nose thruster; more advanced versions would provide laterally-coupled return tubing for the reversed returning mass stream packets. The weight of the rising mass of the uncoiling tubing would be supported by distributed electromagnetic against the mass stream hurtling through it, as in the conventional KESTS form. The nose thrusterís trajectory would arch over and down to the site of the other end of the KESTS arch. Experience with building ever-longer arches would increase until the arch has completely circled the planet to have its landing site be at its launch site, thus emplacing a seed KESTS into space, for bootstrapping construction of full capacity structures. Nose thruster KESTS emplacement technology offers seed-bootstrapping KESTS, temporary KESTS, and special one-way materials delivery systems..A half-arch from ground to GEO conceivably could provide one-way delivery of construction materials; for example, if the mass stream is a glass fiber with magnetic inclusions in it, delivered at, say, 4 miles worth per second, accumulates respectably.
Chemical Reaction Engine Technology Emplacement
Another, rather brute force emplacement method would use chemical reaction engine technology to initially accelerate an upward bucket chain of objects that form the energy storage mechanism that will eventually support the KESTS. This technique establishes a tubeless KESTS mass stream first, then installs evacuated tubing around it, forming the basic structure of the KESTS. The tubeless KESTS is an immense chain of magnetically-coupled objects or packets, accelerated first by a modified form of chemical reaction engine technology or by electromagnetic rail technology. The front packet takes the brunt of the punishment, slamming through the air at meteoric velocities. The following links in the chain are packets which are in the wake of the lead packet, and have less effort to eject the air molecules that get in between the packet chain links.
The chain of orbital velocity missiles starts at earth surface, rapidly goes upward out beyond the atmosphere, coasting in trajectory around the planet to re-entry headed for its point of origin. As the chain of packets rise, some of their kinetic energy is converted to potential energy, and the average spacing between the chain links must decrease; so the chain is built to fold like an accordion in the hard vacuum to expand the width of the mass stream at higher altitudes. When the lead packet reaches the starting point, it is joined to the chain at that point, and re accelerated.
The contra-rotating version is then started up in the opposite direction alongside the new tubeless KESTS. It too loops around the Earth to rejoin itself at the surface contact re acceleration site. The two chains of orbital velocity packets are configured to electromagnetically couple laterally, using electromagnetic position lateral linking nearly frictionlessly.
The laterally-coupled pair of sheathing tubes are then laid upon the two speeding chains of packets, its weight supported by the rising side of the dual chain of packets, sliding on the electromagnetic bearing surfaces of the outside surface of the chain of packets. Laid along the length of the KESTS, it is next sealed and evacuated. By this time all re-acceleration of the KESTS packets is electromagnetic.13
Emplacement as a Millimeter Microwave-Boosted Launched Mass Stream
Similar to launch by the blast of chemically powered reaction engine exhaust against it, multiple beamed millimeter wave energy sources perhaps could utilize hot air plasma acceleration technology to emplace seed KESTS.14
Payoff or Value
What is the value of enabling a resumed vigorous expansion of human civilization while also enabling the restoration of the earth surface ecosystem? The intent of this paper is to inspire hope for such a near-future major space-based civilization, enabled by an earth surface to space transportation system adequate to the task of transporting every existing human being into space, if need be, to an Orbital Habitat Ring encircling our planet.
An indefinitely long improvement in the standard of living for humanity in general, would be made possible by a transportation system adequate to the task of establishing a massive beachhead in earth orbit, increasing access to space resources, increasing how far we can go and how much we can carry there. With enormous increases in room to grow, raw materials and abundant 24 hour per day solar energy, resource wealth can increase life satisfaction for all. This all could uniquely be made possible by a mature Kinetic Energy Supported Electrically Powered Transportation Structure technology. More specifically:
1. Discoveries made during pure research on KESTS technology.
2. Over water bridge spans far exceeding that possible using contemporary structural materials.
3. Heavy lift high capacity electric powered access to earth orbital altitudes for large spacecraft assembly for deep space exploration and commercialization.
4. Provides access to create a very large scale space colonization ring of earthsurface-normal interior habitats, enabling shift of human population center to that location, becoming primarily based on space resources thereafter.
5. Enables the restoration of the earthsurface to the ecological balance state resembling precivilization qualities, for preserving and expanding biological diversity resources; enables most of the earthsurface to become an "International Park Campground" for vacationing people from the Orbiting Habitat Ring.
6. Perhaps most importantly, it offers a way to unite mankind into a huge cooperative venture toward a common goal's tasks.
1. On KESTS, vehicles traveling between earth surface and earth orbital altitudes do not carry propulsion fuel. This contrasts with conventional launch vehicles, which must utilize the great majority of their lift capacity to lift the fuel necessary for orbital insertion. Conventional vehicle return to earthsurface requires energy-wastful heat-shielded dissipation of vehicular energy during the atmospheric reentry; when deceleration of vehicular mass during return to earthsurface along KESTS, occurs, the force supplies lift energy to the KESTS and thus returning energy back into the transportation system.
2. KESTS distribute vehicular propulsion electrical power all along their structures, without resistive losses of electrical wiring, and without sliding electrical contacts to extract power for propulsion, since propulsion energy is coupled inductively from the mass stream's pulsing magnetic fields.
3. KESTS would somewhat resemble an electric railway-carrying bridge structure.
4. Powered by electrical energy. Sources of this electrical power could include existing electrical commercial power grids, "conventional" SSPS in GEO, and Mass Stream Solar-Electric Thrusters on the KESTS. The latter two sources may additionally be able to supply electrical power back into the earth surface electrical commercial power grid.
5. KESTS would be "active" structures, analogous to a kind of airplane that is piloted high in the sky while propelling itself by pushing on the ground below it. Stability is highly dependent on servo position feedback mechanisms which strive to predict load transients and compensate for them in advance by appropriate changes in the exit velocity vectors of the counter rotating mass streams at the earth surface re-initialization site; these advance compensations would ripple through the KESTS at mass stream velocity.
Enabling Technologies or Systems
1. Hard vacuum technology, and hard vacuum materials technology.
2. Mass driver technology, as a starting point for design of the earthsurface mass stream's velocity re-initializer, and for the energetic interactive coupling between the mass stream and the tubing/track/vehicle complex which it supports.
3. System analysis, which needs to be expanded to provide integrative wholeness pattern fitting processes for continual harmonious integration of all the biological and mechanical interacting systems. Position servomechanism system analysis for stabilizing the KESTS structure is one such application; some others are connectiveness systems from the KESTS both to the rotating earthsurface and to the Orbiting Habitat Rings, and space colony habitation systems analysis.
4. To achieve the overall project in enough of a near-future time frame to preserve the earthsurface ecosystem adequately for restoration, common human functionality improvement technologies will need to be quickly provided to all people on the planet to enable the efficient use of human resources in nearly all forms of human endeavor in the creation of KESTS and mostly for the Orbiting Habitat Rings. One such existing technology for enabling an individual to efficiently harmonize self toward chosen goals has been well developed in a form known as "Educational Kinesiology".11
5. Corporate industrial business harmonization systems need to be developed. Existing processes such as Methexis, and Organizational Psychosynthesis need to be explored as possible ways to galvanize the worldwide business processes efficiently enough to achieve the overall goal without getting in each others' way.12
Relation to Major Mission Objectives
1. Considering the major mission objective as being the enablement of a thriving expanding civilization while also restoring the earthsurface ecosystem back to health balance, KESTS appear to be the only transportation system adequate to the task of physically moving the bulk of civilization into earth orbit.
2. Makes possible the efficient large scale cargo movement from earthsurface to space for SSPS construction and for assembly of very large spacecraft in earth orbit, and for easy supply of space-derived resource materials for earthsurface replenishment.
3. Enables efficient transportation partway for especially obnoxious earthsurface civilization garbage (such as PCBs, CFCs and radioactive residues) disposal by launching into the sun's solar furnace.
1. Some examples of early forms of kinetically supported structures are balloons and pressure-supported spacecraft fuel tanks, the arch of a water fountain, and the cowboy's lariat's lasso tossed over a steer's head.
2. The basic concept of a tower which reaches from the ground up into the sky has been around for a long time. The ancient "Tower of Babel" at E-Temen-An-Ki was intended to be sufficiently high as to enable man to reach the heavens.
3. The general idea of extremely long space transportation structures was foreseen as tether tensile structures, such as the geosynchronous centrifugally-supported earthsurface tether first proposed by Artsutanov in 1966, and the lunar-through-L1 transportation tether proposed by the author in 1972. These would have been structures which were primarily experiencing tensile forces, in contrast to the primarily compressive forces upon KESTS.
4. In the mid 1980's, Rod Hyde of LRL proposed "Starbridge", a vertical electromagnetic fountain mass stream of beryllium disks from earthsurface to orbital altitudes, calculating that it could lift the combined mass of the entire world human population into space while consuming the electrical power equivalent to that which the city of Los Angeles consumes in only two weeks.
5. Also in the mid 1980's, Keith Lofstrom proposed the "Launch Loop", a kinetically supported structure for lifting spacecraft above the atmosphere for more efficient launch there. It would have used a stretchable continuous linked chain instead of a mass stream.
6. And also in the same time frame of the '80's, Earle Smith proposed a continuous chain form of kinetically supported structure which connected between earthsurface equatorial sites to Geosynchronous Earth Orbital altitudes.
7. The generalized concept of kinetically supported transportation structures which could be also used as electrical power transfer linkage from space to earthsurface was begun and placed on public accessible computer network files starting in 1988 by the author, while attempting to restore the concepts of Hyde, Lofstrom and Smith to public attention. He continued to develop the general concept such as by adding the concepts of KESTS emplacement by "microelevator" and other new emplacement means, laterally coupling counter rotating pairs of mass streams, powering the KESTS transportation structure by attaching solar-electrically driven mass thrusters to the KESTS in space, and using KESTS to enable migration of civilization into earth-circling Orbiting Habitat Rings for its indefinitely thriving expanding civilization while enabling the restoration of earthsurface ecosystem healthy balance.
Key Demonstrations Required
1. Demonstration of a basic electro- magnetically coupled discontinuous mass stream counter rotating laterally coupled pair supporting its evacuated tubing and coupling lift energy to model vehicles riding the structure.
2. Demonstration of eager willingness of mankind in general to cooperatively continue on into the future with a thriving expanding civilization while also restoring the earthsurface system to health.
3. Demonstration of successful systems research in a test space colony in LEO which has an earthsurface normal equivalent interior environment, developing adequate ways to harmonize the myriad interacting biological and mechanical systems; this is necessary to prove out the long-held assumptions that artificial habitats in space can provide ecologically balanced environs for civilization's social-agricultural-industrial indefinitely long exuberant survival.
4. Demonstration of a surface-to-surface KESTS spanning several miles, carrying manned vehicles.
5. Demonstration of emplacement of a small tube diameter KESTS temporarily reaching Low Earth Orbital altitudes.
6. Demonstration of emplacement of a small tube diameter KESTS pair linking the equator with Low Earth Orbital altitudes. Then out to Geosynchronous Earth Orbital altitude, 22,300 miles up.
7. Demonstration of successful bootstrapping construction process upon the original small tube diameter KESTS out to orbital altitudes.
8. Demonstration of efficient materials trans- portation from the lunar surface to site of Orbiting Habitat Ring, such as by lunar KESTS, mass drivers, gravitationally-pumped cycling lunar-earth Skyhook, and/or elevator tether through L1.
9. Demonstration of aggregate KESTS capacity to transport people and their household goods from earthsurface at 1 billion people per year, a rate adequate to move nearly all of humanity (7 billion people) into the OHR within a 7 year time span.
Comparison with Tether Types of Transportation
Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structures ("KESTS") perhaps will be eventually supplanted by centrifugally-supported equatorial tethers, for long-term massive transportation between earth surface and near-space. Indeed, KESTS might well provide the immense payload lift capacity to GEO useful for the construction materials for such tethers. However, there are several significant advantages KESTS have in the near future time frame: first, they do not need development of carbon monofilliament (diamond monofilliament) tether material before construction; second, they do not need to be built starting at GEO; and third, perhaps most importantly, they inherently distribute the transportation energy needed to move payload along their length.
1. Milestone one is the successful fabrication and operation of working models of KESTS which incorporate all of the functions needed by full scale KESTS. At the present time, work needs to be done in envisioning potential capabilities and associated side-effects, such as contemplated by this paper. Right now a lot of work could be done in mathematical analysis of suborbital mechanics and engineering design, primarily electromagnetics and materials technology, with electronic servo concepts readied for use in automatic adjustment due to varying loads along the length of the KESTS. Modular components need to be somewhat standardized providing a small stream size as is practical, and providing for bundling many of these small ones to provide the higher carrying capacity of the application. Enough technology needs to be developed to build demonstration functional models for people to look at and touch, perhaps ride upon.
2. Since the primary need for KESTS technology is to enable the Orbital Habitual Ringís existence and the transportation of a great number of people and their belongings to it, perhaps the most difficult milestone is when humanity realizes there is a choice., and chooses to ìgo for the goldî. Change, in general, is stressful, even change for the better. In the short run, it seems easier to let things roll the way they are going, just let things slide. The aggregate stress of change is almost beyond comprehension, of a world full of people leaving their homes, their homeland, to go live in artificial cities in earth orbit, even to idyllic homes. We each identify with our land, our homes, our cars, all of which we have invested so much of our life to acquire. In the Orbital Habitat Ring, all the land is all new, manmade with the help of robotics, not the land of our forefathers. The homes there are new, we can move our household goods but not the walls of our homes, walls which may have been built by oneís father. Even cars have no place in the OHR except in museums, because in each 10,000 person toroidal subcity, nothing is more than a mile away; other subcities are reached by monorail linking the entire OHR together through their hubs.
Yet the choice is not of avoiding major stress, but of which stressor to accept. Looking back the other way, where the limits to earth surface population growth were passed very long ago, requiring some 9 people out of 10 to just... not be... anymore, for long term survivability of humanity, surely is stressful; the process of deciding who lives and who does not, seems likely to be stressful, if not even gladiatorial. Colosseum, anyone? What percentage of resources can be recycled, each time around, and how many recycles can there be before there is not enough left to recycle one more time? Can technology eventually enable 100% recycling? We donít seem to be able to stop ourselves from exterminating species as part of our harvesting of planetary resources, anymore than we can stop from spraying our homes with insecticide, there is no harmony seemingly within us for co-existence anymore with the biodiversity complex that provided us with life. Will humanity realize quickly enough what the meaning of ìfittestî is for humanity, in the phrase ìsurvival of the fittestî. Who wins in the long run, the one who stomps on the bee fearing a bee sting,, or the one who enables the bee to gather honey and pollinate the crops? In what way can the average personís attitude be shifted from a tremendous resentment at the prospect of an enormous interference with their daily lives and current property ownership, to that of perceiving a series of wonderful opportunities?
So the second, and perhaps the most difficult and unlikely, milestone to be passed is the one where somehow a world full of people together choose the path of full responsibility for the fragile ecosystem of their Mother Earth, acknowledging their heavy foot upon it, and also simultaneously accepting full responsibility for the tremendous magnificent civilization that can soon evolve from the present one, just shifted up into space orbiting the earth.
1. The third milestone is the actual proving out of the concept of nearly self-sufficient artificial large habitats in space, the demonstration that the complex intertwining mechanical, biological and sociological systems can harmonize fully adequately. Preassembled sections of a 1,000-person toroidal research space habitat design are put into low earth orbit by the creation of a flyback engine/control type wet launch module vehicle technology, using the existing proven technology base used by the Space Shuttle. The wheel-shaped space habitat is first built on the ground in the form of pre-fitted modules linked in a circle. The design of each module is for dual use, the other use is for being the fuel tank and payload of an unmanned engine & control module which launches them into low earth orbit. The unmanned engine/control module flies back to the launch site for the next module's launch, much as the present space shuttle returns to the Earth's surface. Use these unmanned wet-launched pre fitted modules to build artificial gravity space stations made of circles of these linked modules to prove out the hypothesis that earth surface gravity and atmospheric pressure in a rotating toroid can provide functional stability in a group living situation which includes other life forms in a harmonious synthesis. 4
2. The bulk of the physical structure to be built in the Clarke Belt around the Earth would need to be built out of space resources. The Moon is handy and has plentiful resources of such materials as aluminum and titanium. This material needs to be moved from the Moon's surface to the vicinity of the site for the Orbital Habitat Ring,, perhaps the Clarke Belt, efficiently and with a minimum of pre-industrialization of the Moon. Investigate forms of materials-pumps utilizing the greater depth of potential energy of the adjacent earth's gravity well, to lift materials up out of the Moon's gravity well. One way to do this is to store the energy as angular momentum: an Earth-Moon two-body orbiting Skyhook one-direction materials pump, which picks up packaged payloads from the far side of the Moon on a tether, payload and spacecraft tethered whirling together around their common center-of-gravity as they continue around the Moon and into Earth's gravity well, the spacecraft regaining its energy through appropriately timed release of the payload from a lengthened tether deep into Earth's gravity well. This concept draws from Hans Moravecís creation of the spinning skyhook concept. Lunar mass drivers, and lunar elevator tethers through L1 are other technologies worthy of consideration for this purpose.5,8,17
3. Creation of KESTS surface-to-surface bridges to develop the technology into a high reliability system, while also providing new modes of long range transportation of large amounts of fuels, water and other resources. Development of emplacement techniques. 5,6,7
4. First Orbital Habitat Ring 10,000-person space settlement built from Earth materials, brought up on a KESTS bridge. This develops the functional structural design with components built comparatively easily on the Earth's surface. Outfitting the interior of the space settlement to include as many earth-normal features as possible. Tests out agricultural systems, condominium homes on the interior slopes, and creative stable harmonious social system...and millions of the other necessary things needing to be tested out there too. In a detailed reference design of the 1970í2, each colonist effectively has 26 fish, 6.2 chickens, 2.8 rabbits, and 1/7 of a cow, and the plant diet for these animals is grown on the habitat in lunar soil about 1 foot deep. Housing of the colonists is on terraced condominiums along the sides slopes inside the rotating wheel habitat, including 45 square yards per person for residential and community life, 5 square yards per person for mechanical and life support systems, and 21 square yards per person for agriculture and food processing.9
5. Long term electrical power to support the kinetic energy bridges needs to come from space resources instead of relying on Earth resources. Dedicated SSPS in GEO is one possibility; solar- electric mass stream thrusters hanging on KESTS is another possibility. Thrusters would use solar energy converted into electrical energy to accelerate the downward direction of the kinetic mass stream so as to replenish the energy consumed by the support of the bridge structure and for moving payloads along it. The thrust of that acceleration would be against the weight of the power converter, being located along the bridge at points below synchronous orbit.7
6. Demonstration of adequately shielded space habitat at the earth orbital altitude selected for the Orbiting Habitat Ring.
7. If a site for the Orbiting Habitat Ring civilization is selected below GEO, then demonstration of adequately efficient reliable cargo transfer linkage between the relatively moving KESTS and capsules circularly orbiting the earth at that altitude.
8. Successful full-size fully functional habitat built on site in earth orbit from construction materials brought up on KESTS, such as a 10,000-person toroidal design.
9. Robotically-built basic habitat shell structure made on site at OHR altitude out of lunar materials.
10. Interior outfitting of an Orbiting Habitat to provide a standard of living sufficiently better than typical of earthsurface living conditions to easily attract early settlers.
11. Sustainable construction rate of 300 orbiting habitats robotically-built per day in the OHR from lunar/asteroidal raw materials.
12. First million square kilometers of earthsurface restored back into pre-civilization ecosystem state.
13. Construction/population of second Orbiting Habitat Ring, populated by 7 billion descendants of first habitat ring's thriving growing population.
14. Complete restoration of the earth surface ecosystem back to nearly pre-civilization conditions, with a rotating population of only 100 million people on the earth surface at any one time, composed of ecosystem restoration and maintenance workers, and national park vacationers.
Applications Beyond Space Development
Before these very large kinetic structures can be built here on the Earth's surface, on the lunar surface, and on the Martian surface, a lot of experience needs to be gained by utilizing them for smaller spans in surface to surface applications. Kinetic structural arches might support conveyor belts which span hundreds of miles, connecting coal deposits with local electric coal-fired powerplants. The kinetic arches could support water pipelines spanning from arctic glacial areas to deliver water to desert farming areas thousands of miles away, along great loops created by the coriolis force. Oceans could be spanned, directly linking the continents, analogous to the building of bridges where ferries were the only option before.15
Ground-to-ground applications would provide the development of the technology, and supply solid working experience with KESTS. The technological niches appear to be in possible competition with long range air and sea transportation routes. The specific forms of KESTS technology actually put into hardware will control the ultimate range of applications, of course.
Next, a full-scale over-water bridge could be built, perhaps linking two islands or an island with the mainland, such as connecting Long Beach with Catalina Island, some 27 miles of water to cross. Early ones will fail, just as in aircraft and rocket development; the failure modes of KESTS is likely to be fast and spectacular with the stream mass being quickly burned up when suddenly having to travel through the atmosphere without its vacuum shielding, so early ones might best be built in unpopulated areas. What must be done to compensate for coriolis forces will be discovered and proven out. Maintenance procedures and needs would get worked out. An ongoing creative process of envisioning, design, analysis, experimenting, engineering, manufacturing, trying out...and back to the envisioning function again, forms an endless loop ever perfecting the KESTS to meet real-world needs and resources functionality.
As confidence builds as the KESTS meet the real world environment ongoing, ever greater projects can be attempted. Intercity KESTS bridging remote unpopulated areas might then be built, such as linking a new super airport in the Palmdale area with Los Angeles, a KESTS connecting Hawaii with the California coast and with Alaska also. Other countries would be involved by this time, such as Japan would find KESTS island hopping quite effective in their transportation network. With experience of KESTS in high storm conditions such as hurricanes...assuming their multiplicity of servos is able to compensate for such heavy wind loads...would open up possibilities for transcontinental KESTS transportation. The relative advantages of high kinetic energy flatter trajectories would be balanced with the lower velocity high arching trajectory KESTS. Delivery of materials, such as bringing glacial water to the deserts of Australia, North Africa, and the Middle East, opens up another version of KESTS, where the KESTS primarily provides support for the vacuum tubing, and the materials being delivered are themselves moving in sealed containers at near orbital velocities within the vacuum stream tubing enclosed in a high velocity hose structure that unzips at its delivery terminal, disgorging its cargo, and then is whirled around along with the KESTS stream for the return trip to the inlet terminal.
Other Important Factors
The basic intention of this project is to provide a key transportation link to enable an alternative to the rapidly increasing resource entropic garbage and destruction of ecosystem biological resources such as rain forests by an expanding earth surface civilization. Recent research shows that the earth surface ecosystem can indefinitely support only a small fraction of the present human population; this project could give those "excess" billions of people some exciting and useful things to do and hopefully in the process create a place for themselves and their children to come to live in an enormously expanding civilization, largely independent of earth surface resources, and enabling restoration of the earth ecosystem thereafter. Probably when the first cave dwellers decided that the cave complex was overpopulated, and cast out the weaker ones, they didn't realize that those "weaker" ones would learn to build their own shelters and grow their own food, and create a population support resource vastly beyond that possible to the cave dwellers in their hunter/gatherer territory. The kinetic structure transportation technology just might be able to open up the potential of truly vast real estate creation in the Clarke Belt. There civilization could flourish given the efficient inflow of raw materials from both earthsurface and lunar sites.16
The technological challenges are great. The beneficial applications are vastly greater. Who will do the R&D? Who will pay for the R&D, and how will the rights for the use of the resulting technological development be kept accessible for all humanity, yet pay for itself in a reasonable period of time? Indeed, KESTS to Orbital Habitat Rings would require a technological resurgence of worldwide activity of science, technology, social, agricultural, environmental fields ... nearly all of the fields of human endeavor.
Some Research Questions
1. Stability of the KESTS structure: how high can it go while remaining able to cope with unbalanced transient forces upon it? What are those expected forces? How much wobble will be present at any point along it, particularly at the site of embarkation to the habitat ring? Can its active position servo system be adequately damped to prevent uncontrolled oscillations in the feedback loop? What is the ratio of active feedback damping vs. energy-consuming passive damping structures distributed along KESTS?
2. What is the traffic volume necessary for a given size KESTS, at the break-even point, considering the energy input required just to maintain support of the structure? Analogous to the heart beat pumping blood through a person's arteries, capillaries, and veins, that "pumping" is required to sustain life of the KESTS system.
3. Pulsing magnetic fields hazard to living beings: The coupling of the mass stream to the enclosing tube structure and to vehicles moving along the structure is primarily pulsing electromagnetic in nature. What hazard does this present to passengers, since some studies have linked such ELF fields to diseases such as alzeheimers and leukemia; can design minimize such ELF fields in cargo and passenger parts of the vehicles?
4. What kind of industrial business system can possibly remain responsible to the long term goals of an expanding civilization and restoration of the earth surface ecosystem?
5. Willingness of the majority of present-day earth surface population to leave their lifelong homes to migrate to the orbiting habitat ring: people are attached to the familiar, and often have worked much of their lifetime to provide the home they now live in with their family, and are not likely to easily choose to leave it all. The value of their real estate will need to be adequately returned to them somehow in the overall process. And those whose fortunes are dependent on the real estate wealth they have currently amassed, will need assurance of equivalent wealth in the new civilization site somehow. Who will provide the money for all this? Can there be a one-for-one correspondence of real estate on the ground with real estate in the habitat ring? And can life in the habitat ring be guaranteed sufficiently better than that on earthsurface to provide the incentive to migrate?
6. Can there be multiple KESTS, or would the crossover sites provide risk of crashing together in space? Can these crossover points be made deliberately coupled, even providing additional stability to the overall KESTS system?
7. What orbital altitude will be the optimum site for the habitat ring? The Clarke Belt (geosynchronous earth orbit) would provide a theoretically stationary embarkation point between KESTS and the orbiting habitat ring, but shielding requirements might be greater there than in other places, requiring more non-rotating shielding mass around them. Low Earth Orbit would require less shielding, and the demands on KESTS are much less, but guarantee of indefinitely long compensation for orbital decay of the immense habitat ring would somehow need to be made. And is there some way to have habitat rings at both altitudes, using mirrored KESTS to arch over lower orbital altitude habitat rings?
8. What effects of the mass streamís electromagnetic flow within the earthís magnetic field?
9. The entire KESTS structure must rotate once every 24 hours, as it is attached solidly to the earth surface. Lateral coupling between upward and downward mass stream provides the mechanism to swing the enclosed mass streams around with the rotation of the earth, but what are the magnitudes of the distributed lateral force between the mass streams and tubing, and how much weight does this structure add to the KESTS? These are important parameters for KESTS equations.
10. Given the transfer of most of most of civilization to the Orbital Habitat Rings around the Earth, 15 billion people in the hypothetical example given here illustratively, there would be plenty of spare mile-diameter 600 feet wide toroidal habitats, which could be used to re-create small copies of earthsurface natural ecosystems. Those local zoological parks conceivably could be ark-like backups for all of the original earthsurface species, including the largest land and marine mammals. Those space-based zoological gardens would be excellent research sites for the restoration and maintenance of the giant national park that the earthsurface could become, preserving precious biological genetic resource pools of biodiversity for the future. What will be the managerial processes that ensure this will happen?
The engineering, sociological, and business challenges of KESTS to an Orbital Habitat Ring are great; indeed, in nearly all fields of human endeavor. The transportation structure itself has engineering challenges enough to satisfy the most dynamic intelligent of people, not the least of which is engineering the dynamic stability to cope with potentially oscillatory mechanisms due to the long delay times between load changes and time to reach the site from the mass stream re-initialization point(s). In the Orbital Habitat Ring, there is a major challenge of balancing the myriad interactive systems of life and machine for stability, yet including the creative growth necessary to civilization.
KESTS concepts suggest to us a new way to move ourselves and our civilization's belongings far and high into earth orbit, perhaps even enabling earth life to occupy the relatively motionless orbit of the Clarke Belt. To leave the caves of earthsurface while we can, or not to leave; that is the question. Continue to ride the earthsurface ecosystem downward, or to turn upward? Every one of ourselves, not just the lucky few, can thereby move up to an area where it is more appropriate to build ideal man-made living space. Up there, mankind can flourish like never before, and from there can allow Mother Earth to heal herself, as if from the partition as she gives birth to mankind bringing life to the rest of the solar system. The decision to research and develop the technology of kinetic energy supported electrically powered transportation structures would be a major step toward true large scale colonization of space, even in our time.
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5. Cline, J.E.D., Testimony given to the National Commission on Space, Nov. 14 1985
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17. Moravec, H., A Non-Synchronous Orbital Skyhook, The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. XXV, No.4, 307-322, Oct-Dec. 1977.
This document by James Edward David Cline.
Copyright © 1997 by James Edward David Cline
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