A POTENTIAL APPLICATION OF GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY
KESTS: A UNIQUE TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY CONCEPT & IMPLICATIONS
A POTENTIAL APPLICATION OF GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY
KESTS: A UNIQUE TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY CONCEPT & IMPLICATIONS
by J. E. D. "Dave" Cline
As presented to the L. A. Chapter of ISSS on November 9, 1994
Urgency to provide people with hope that vast new resourceful living space will be available in their lifetimes, so as to stop the burning of the rainforests etc. A dual approach is presented, to be done at same time, one economically and quickly puts a real space colony in low earth orbit to verify its basic tenets; the other is to develop the technology of kinetically-supported extremely long structures, which has the potential to reach from earth surface even beyond LEO to GEO, where its massive payload capability can be used to build and supply a vast group of large space colonies.
Described here is an exercise application of General Systems Theory which might prove out to be a large and significant project. Several aspects are discussed: the need to review the fundamental concept of "transportation"; the theory and application of "kinetic energy supported transportation structures", including an integrated earth-surface-to-Clarke Belt truely massive transportation capacity bridge system; an example of a creative process for building a mental model; an overview of high efficiency lunar-surface-to-earth orbit transportation concepts; and a relatively quick and economical way to build a mile-diameter space colony research habitat in low earth orbit using modified Spacelab & Space Shuttle technologies.
GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY APPLICATION: AT THE BEGINNING OF SYSTEM DESIGN
Instead of applying general systems concepts to understand and reconfigure existing systems for more efficient and appropriate function, the systems concepts could be applied to explore The potentials of various configurations of a proposed technology. This opportunity could condense the trial-&-error stages of its development, adding a special wisdom to the progress of creation of a technological system that has the potential of enabling a much greater well-being of both human civilization and the Earth's ecosystem.
Aspects include the interaction of a given potential technology with the technology with human physiological/emotional/cognitive/ imaginative systems, social systems, economic systems, industrial systems, technological scenario systems, religious & political systems, resource management systems, agricultural systems, health & well-being systems, environmental balance systems... even individual/group belief systems. The subject application for general systems theories offers the opportunity to explore all of these aspects of a transportation technology that potentially could blossom into a vast near-space colonization system in the near future.
TRANSPORTATION IN GENERAL: OVER LAND, SEA, AIR AND SPACE
Transportation systems define the circulation of goods, materials and people within a civilization. Increasing and maintaining transportation systems thus provide the opportunity for expansion and reliability of circulation within near-future civilization.
Transportation systems historically have advanced somewhat haphazardly, with a new technology being proposed, then developed, then manifested as an effect of corporate power struggles and profit making's dance with the potential user's needs. Perhaps it would be valuable to research the entire concept of transportation, and envision effects of other forms of transportation systems.
Some such concepts might include those using such technologies as skateboards, pantographic walk amplifiers, interconnecting swinging cables from pylons, high speed metal/fiberglass bands distributing power to slide-grabbers alongside roadpaths, and kinetic energy supported transportation structures.
Each of these would provide new opportunities to civilization, from high efficiency city commute systems to earth/space transportation systems. All of these concepts have roots in the past, yet were passed by at the time due to lack of supporting technology or lack of motivation by corporate manifestation structures. The need for vastly more efficient human commute systems is evident in the face of limited fossil fuels and increasing use of automobiles in developing countries. The needs of an expanding population for long distance efficient transportation systems would alleviate much of the need to convert farm land into residential land, thus preserving the food
The ground commute transportation systems concepts are overdue in development, and could, for example, interface the LA Metrorail system to individual user's homes and places of employment, and probably would then go on to also function in the long-range high-speed pathways between cities and countries. The intense rivalry among existing industrial technological corporations for large but finite municipal funds, in somewhat desperate economical times, suggests that this field be bypassed for now to avoid the risk of being considered unwelcome competition by powerful corporate rivalrous economic interests, short-sighted as they are.
However, considering the needs of the entire planet, this paper will focus on the possible use of General Systems Theory on a different highly speculative technology with tremendous potential for benefit to human civilization and the planet's ecosystem.
A TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY POTENTIALLY BRIDGING EARTH AND NEAR SPACE
This contemplated technology would have many inherently integrated functions, making it especially useful as a testing ground for general systems concepts. And the implications for new opportunities for mankind encompass nearly every aspect of human endeavor, which are then more potential applications of the wisdom of general systems theories. The technology's physical development so far is nearly zero, and its potential difficulties are unusual, although there are abundant related analogous physical examples in existence; this offers the situation of optimum timing for imaginative, intellectual integration.
THE KEY TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY CONCEPT
The key concept is that of creating a transportation technology which integrates the associated energy distribution with the structural form with specific sites of implementation. Stored energy within a structure (stored as kinetic energy, not as stress) has the potential for increasing the strength of a bridge structure as well as for distributing the energy used to power the vehicles traveling upon the structure. The kinetic energy of the mass of a continuous stream of objects moving at slightly above orbital velocities within extremely long evacuated loop pairs would be used to support the tubing within which the mass stream travels, and thus support the vehicles traveling upon that tubing. The kinetic energy of the mass stream would also be tapped by those payload vehicles throughout the range of the bridge structure.
The distances such a stored-energy-supported bridge could span are far greater than bridge structures limited by strength of conventional materials. Imagination can conceive of them not only connecting across wide rivers, but also across oceans, even to heights beyond Earth's atmosphere even out to the altitude of synchronous rotation with the equator's angular velocity.
SYSTEM OF MASSIVE PAYLOAD MOVEMENT BETWEEN EARTH AND THE CLARKE BELT:
The latter destination site is of special significance, because there in the "Clarke Belt" or geosynchronous orbit, truely massive space colonies could be built, with massive efficient direct access to both earth surface resources and of near-space resources such as the Moon's surface and of near-earth asteroids. With these combined resources, there is room for a massively expanding human civilization which takes the environmental load off of "Mother Earth", allowing her restoration toward environmental balanced diversity, reversing the current strong opposite destructive trends.
The highly conjectural, unproven nature of this concept, seems balanced by its potentials for beneficial application, worthy of the exercise of application of general systems theories. And if the technology does become viable through R & D, the guidance of systems theories could greatly accelerate useful development and implementation for solution of some of mankind's most pressing problems of an expanding population in an enclosed ecosystem.
SYSTEMS FOR QUICKLY RAISING AVERAGE HUMAN COMPETANCY FOR THE TASK:
The associated step-function in improvement of human competency required for creation and conservation of the vast new resources accessed by the technology, is similarly an opportunity for application of general systems theories, focusing on the human element in this case. The basis of this step-function in competency already exists in fragmental forms, such as those body-mind goal-oriented kinesiology balances developed by the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Other new kinds of educational techniques are represented by the Zygon stereo-acoustic flashing light pattern integrated audio instruction "Learning Machine" technology, and the Brain-Mind Research brain-wave pattern induction by stereo acoustic fields to the ears and body itself. Such learning-technologies integrate much of the whole human being, using specific goals chosen by the individual, goals of increasing competency toward achievements and goals for cleared emotional aspects of the individual's life experiences. Such improvements in human balanced competency would be needed to implement and maintain the highly complex and powerful living systems potentially resulting from application of the subject potentially civilization-changing technologies.
So the application of general systems theories could simultaneously go to the key kinetic structure transportation technology, to the resulting changes to civilization's resources, and to increasing free individual human competency for expanding and maintaining the well-being of humanity, and to the resulting effectively enlarged Earth ecosystem. Further application could range to include the
factors of supportively involving the current social power structures of corporations, societies and governments, each of which would interact with such wide-ranging forces of change, much preferably in harmonious ways. General systems theories might also be applicable in managing the experience of apparent technological obstacles which are encountered by any emerging technology. This could be an enjoyable, stimulating exercise.
MODELING THE GUIDED EVOLUTION OF THE APPLIED TECHNOLOGY
The thought here is that General Systems Theory could provide wisdom to the guidance of development and application of the proposed technology. Through modeling the overall system with its rich variety of subsystems, and exploring the internal/external environmental interactions between those systems, a basis for greater wisdom could result in the intelligent management of those systems. The effect of any proposed change to a subsystem could be observed as it reverberated amongst the sub- and supra-systems, in model form instead of empirical form.
THE KEY CENTRAL TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY OF KINETIC STRUCTURES:
The viability of the kinetic transportation structure concept is key to the viability of all the following potential scenarios, although once up and running they would simply become the workhorses of more challenging and interesting tasks. So the subsystem of development of the kinetic structure technology will be considered first.
Would it work? Could it be built? Could it be installed in place? Would it be reliable? Would it adequately dampen oscillations generated by transient shocks? Would it have the required multi-billion pound capacity per year? Would it cope adequately with earthsurface movements and atmospheric storms? Would it interface stably with the earth-girdling ring of proposed space habitats in geosynchronous earth orbit? Would it cope with other speedy objects in space? Could living payload be adequately shielded from the pulsating magnetic ELF fields (which eventually could induce leukemia and Alzheimer's disease) produced by the pulsating magnetic fields along its length, especially at acceleration areas? Would it shake, writhe and wobble until it broke? Can it be supported while it is essentially like a bridge being built clear around the world? Could it do the job and survive the hazards of time? These are some of the kinds of questions which the kinetic structure transportation technology subsystem model needs to approach.
THE NEED TO BUILD AN IMAGINARY, MENTAL MODEL OF THE SYSTEM
To get started in solving these questions, one needs an adequate mental model of the whole subsystem, from which to more easily gain the necessary insights to produce other forms of models such as mathematical and geometrical models. So now let's take a look at this strange proposed transportation technology which has such unusual qualities.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES: ENVISIONING STRUCTURES HARNESSING KINETIC ENERGY
To build an illustrative mental imaginary model of a kinetic structure, first picture the common water fountain arch, as an archtypical model to begin the exploration. Just paint the following images into your mind, adjusting and adding the composite mental painting model without yet criticizing, so as to get the whole model built. There will be plenty of time later for criticism, modification, and expansion. The task now is for you to first build the whole mental model without stubbing your mental toe along the way.
A. To conceptualize a kinetic structure in your mind, mentally picture the graceful arch formed by a decorative water fountain, the shape of a speeding mass stream of water in free-fall racing across a gravitational field.
B. Allow something to float on the top of this water fountain arch at the balance point, representative of an auxiliary rigid mass weight to be supported by the water fountain arch, slightly deflecting the water stream downward there, enough to support that weight.
C. Spread the supported rigid material's weight down along the rising half of the water stream arch, making it into the form of a tube that is supported by a slight drag and deflection of the upward-moving mass's fluid stream.
D. At the far receiving end of the water arch, turn the water around and squirt it back upward into another similar water fountain arch, right alongside the first arch.
E. Enclose this second arch with a tube along its upward half, supported again by the drag and downward deflection of the enclosed speeding upward water jet stream.
F. Laterally connect the two streams' tubes so as to support the downward half of each water stream arch by the upward stream of its companion arch.
G. Embed magnets within this recirculating mass stream, such that magnetic fields extend usefully beyond the enclosing tubing, generating a pulsating magnetic field along the tubing's surface.
H. Let this pulsating magnetic field induce push-pull propulsive energy into payload vehicles moving along the outside of the tubing.
I. Let the pulsating magnetic field couple supportive energy into the tubing itself, through inducing opposing magnetic fields in the tubing, so that the internal mass stream does not physically touch the mass stream moving within it even though it supports it by magnetic fields.
J. Change the composition of the mass stream from water into a non-volatile substance. Evacuate all volatiles including air from the tubing, so that the mass stream moves within a frictionless vacuum.
K. At the bottom end points of each arch, where the mass stream is turned around, re-accelerated, and fed into the companion arch's upward end, let the accelerator now be electromagnetic, acting on the magnets within the mass stream.
L. Speed up the mass stream so that it is going faster and faster, making the arch higher and wider, fast enough to reach beyond the earth's atmosphere and spanning between continents.
M. Continue speeding the mass stream and widening the arch until it goes from one side of the planet to the other side, then 3/4 of the way around the earth ... then further until it has completely circled around the planetary sphere to back where it started from...then interconnect the two end points together so as to form a pair of laterally-coupled continuous tubes touching the earthsurface at one end, and reaching far into space on the highest point far above the far side of the planet.
N. Continue speeding up the mass stream and lengthening the loop pair until the upward point is at the geosynchronous orbital altitude.
O. Build solar power satellites partway down from GEO along the loop, and use its solar-electrical energy to synchronously accelerate the magnets in the downward-moving side of the pair of mass streams, to make up for the energy that is used up to support the structure... the upward thrust from this acceleration supports the weight of the solar power satellites.
P. Have vehicles carry construction materials up the tubing bridge from the ground to GEO, where the material is used to build spinning artificial gravity space habitats.
Q. Make the kinetic structure big enough to carry the weight of structural materials enough to build a space habitat resembling the 10,000-person Island-One design.
R. Build several of these habitats side by side in GEO at the top end of the kinetic bridge structure.
S. Build more kinetic bridge structures starting at other points along the equator, and build more Island-One 10,000-person space habitats with their agricultural systems within them.
T. From this GEO Clarke Belt high vantage point, build spacecraft to return to the Moon, and build mining and materials processing plants on the lunar surface.
U. Create a transportation system from the Moon's surface to Earth's GEO Clarke Belt.
V. Build robots to build MANY more 10,000-person space habitats in the Clarke Belt, eventually enough to completely circle the earth, 1.5 million of them.
W. Build the space habitats to feel and look as much like earthsurface environments as possible.
X. Invite the earthsurface's expanding population to come live in the Clarke Belt space habit ring...there is room for 15 billion people already. Build more adjacent rings of space habitats. Go get water and hydrocarbons from comets, asteroids and the outer planets. Go for the Big Time as a spacefaring society!
"KESTS", A KINETIC BRIDGE STRUCTURE, IS...
A kinetic structure, as referred to in this document, basically is a compression bridge structure that inherently carries the energy which supports itself, and also powers vehicles along its outside surface. In general, a Kinetic Structure would maintain its shape against forces acting against itself by using the kinetic energy of rapidly moving mass within itself to resist those forces. The mass stream's intrinsic path is maintained by automatically re-optimizing the velocity of each of the elements at thrust points along it's path. Energy coupling to these elements is electromagnetic, except chemical propulsion perhaps can be used during the initial massive distributed energy input during erection of the structure.
PICTURING GENERAL SHAPES OF KINETIC STRUCTURES
The direction of motion of the rapidly moving masses determines the forces which determine the shape of such a structure. A static shape is created by the balance of these internal kinetic energy forces with externally applied forces.
One common example of a static kinetic structure is that of an inflated balloon, which maintains its shape by using the energy of the rapidly moving mass of the gas molecules within itself. It tends to be spherical in shape due to the random omnidirectional moving masses within itself. Lining up the moving masses so as to all go the same direction, forming a narrow stream approximating ballistic trajectories at orbital velocities, we begin to see potential for traversing great distances, even upward beyond the atmosphere and back.
If a long piece of string has its ends tied together, it can lie crumpled in a heap on the table. However, if it is picked up and then somehow vigorously spun around its own virtual center, it would tend to stretch out into the shape of a rotating circle by the action of the circulating form of its kinetic energy.
This long, thin shape lends itself to the formation of bridges, which would balance the force of gravity on the structure and its carried loads by using the force of balancing deflection of the upward-moving mass of the rapidly moving mass stream within the structure of the bridge. Arranging the mass elements to all move along the same direction with each other, a mass stream is formed. Instead of the spherical balloon structure, the mass stream forms a long relatively thin structural shape.
DYNAMICS INVOLVING THE KINETIC STRUCTURE
Consider the long thin path of a stream of mass elements moving at orbital velocities which are electromagnetically coupling their energy weakly to their surroundings. This electromagnetic coupling of energy allows their guidance and acceleration/deceleration. Deceleration energy exchange provides a mechanism for supporting vehicle trackways along its path, coupling energy to propel vehicles along those trackways, supporting the weight of surrounding evacuated tubing along atmospheric portions of the path, and resisting deflection by external lateral forces.
If an external load is applied at some point against that mass stream, it would find itself resisted due to its deflection of the direction of the mass stream at that point. A small portion of the kinetic energy of the elements of the rapidly moving mass stream is used up in that resisting mechanism. If the circulating system has the ability to restore the original position and velocity of the elements of the mass stream, such as at the two endpoints of a parabolic arch spanning some area, then it has the ability to maintain its structural integrity against such external forces. Such forces could be the weight of evacuated tubing surrounding the path of the parabolic arch, payloads moving along it, and wind loads. For balance, the path of the stream needs to be like a highway, supporting equivalent traffic flow in both directions along side-by-side lanes. This is necessary both to cancel out the longitudinal component of external loads applied at a point, and also needed because in an arch against the pull of gravity, only the upward-moving stream can support loads.
(There is an exception to this. If the external load supplies energy to actually accelerate the downward mass elements even faster downward, it would produce an upward supporting force on the external load. An example of this is in supporting the weight of a solar electric powerplant located on the side of the arch. Such a powerplant would increase the energy stored in the rapidly moving mass stream; the additional energy could then be extracted elsewhere along the stream, thus also providing the function of a power transmission line.)
KINETIC ELEMENTS OF THE MASS STREAM
The design of the mass stream elements needs fit several criteria. First, they need to contain a permanent magnetic field source, because this is what generates the current in coils which it passes through so as to yield energy, and is also the field which is thrust against when the mass element is being re-accelerated and guided. Probably several sets of permanent magnetic field sources will be needed so as to more easily define its position and velocity when it is being course and velocity corrections by the earth surface accelerators. Second, they need to be able to withstand physical contact with other elements in the mass stream; probably there will be a periodic wear parameter observed, and those exceeding specs would be culled from the stream and replaced with refurbished ones. Third, there are different types of mass elements. Most are simply kinetic energy quanta; others serve specialized functions such as carrying small specialized payloads material within themselves and others being payload on a one way trip to be raw material for structural components.
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 an angle from some point on 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 might might be possible needing a mirroring point on the opposite side of the equator from itself.
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 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 residents each stanford torus space settlements all the way around the earth-circling Clark 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.
EMPLACING KINETIC TRANSPORTATION STRUCTURES BETWEEN EARTH AND SPACE
Putting these immense structures into place would require technological expertise even greater than needed to create the bridges themselves, much as the caissons, falsework and bootstrapping techniques of contemporary suspension bridge construction require.
THE STRETCHABLE IRON BELT
The original earth-to-GEO concept by Earle Smith suggested making the moving mass a stretchable belt of iron links, and suspend it from baloons entirely around the earth at the equator; then accellerating the belt, the velocity would expand the circumference due to centrifugal force, stretching it out to the desired GEO altitude.
FLYING THE NOSE OF A TINY REACTION PIPE: MICROELEVATOR
The reaction of a mass stream jetted backwards from a deflection nozzle of a pipe, is proposed by the author as a means of lifting the first small kinetic structure; controlling the nozzle openings at the nose of the pipe guide the pipe along the desired path. A very small diameter tube, perhaps made of teflon tubing, would use electrostatics (instead of electromagnetics) to prevent abrasion of its internal surface; the tiny pipe would jet backwards by deflecting the mass stream from within the tubing. The first one would trace the entire path from ground to GEO and continue on around the planet to its earthsurface point of origin, where it would reconnect to form a continuous loop. Having carried a temporarily nonfunctional twin laterally connected all along its length, this second loop would be powered up to provide the opposite direction support of the downward half of each path.
BOOTSTRAPPING FROM THE VERY SMALL TO THE VERY LARGE
Then a second tiny pair of channels would be carried around the planet on the first pair; then second pair gets powered up. A double sized one gets bootstrapped up next time; next one is 4 times that size. Electromagnetic versions follow that, until the large sizes get emplaced.
LAUNCHING A BUCKETED LARGE REACTION PIPE
Like a waterwheel, a full-size bucketed structure might be launched by the deflection of a large grounded rocket motor. The velocity needs to be enough to carry it all the way to space and around back to the starting point, where it would be then electromagnetically accelerated enough to expand it to GEO altitude.
EARTH SURFACE-TO-SURFACE APPLICATIONS
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 on the earth surface. 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, bridges now instead of just ships.
KINETIC STRUCTURES INTEGRATED INTO THE NEXT LARGER SYSTEM
The concept of the kinetic transportation structure system is laced into a larger picture of space colonization systems. One such system includes the following subset sequence outline, later in greater detail:
** A determination by humanity to resume expansion of civilization
** From space shuttle technology, create modular wet-launch system
** Build small artificial gravity modular toroidal space habitats
** Research and build "siphon" type Lunar to Earth orbit transport
** Create kinetic-energy bridges of the surface-to-surface type
** Create the first surface-to-Clarke-Belt-orbit kinetic structures
** Build first 10,000 person "Island One" type space habitat
** Convert kinetic structural support energy source to solar thrusters
** Develop lunar material resource base, s/a using 2-body skyhook
** Convert lunar-to-Clarke Belt transportation link to massive link
** Create robotic construction system to build 1.5 million Island-1's
** 15 billion humans live in Clarke Belt & 1 billion on earthsurface
** Restoration of the Earth surface ecosystem to long term balance
** Earth surface as a cherished balanced genetic biodiversity resource
** Expanding outward, bringing life to other solar system resources
IN MORE DETAIL
Motivation is a currently-missing essential for manifestation of the subject systems. Somehow the creative energy for such massive projects is missing from contemporary America, which rests on former Apollo glories, and steels itself against the grief of another Challenger- type failure, preferring to find hypnotic solace in the boob tube instead of bravely going onward to real achievements. The spark of interest in real improvement of mankind's options does still live however. Somehow the attention of the American "sleeping giant" needs to be aroused and focused toward ventures that can improve the well-being of civilization.
EARLY TESTING SYSTEM FOR EARTHNORMAL SPACE HABITATS: CENTRISTATION
While kinetic structure development is just getting started, smaller artificial gravity space habitats would be put into low earth orbit, using modified reaction engine technology, to verify the basic concepts of such simulated earth environment habitation. We think that a spinning toroidal wheel about a mile or two in diameter could provide earth-normal gravity and atmospheric pressure, to provide ease of life for the majority of earth life forms, but it has not been tested, and it is an essential concept. Inside these first true space habitats, (perhaps to be called "Biosphere 3+") much of the extremely complex interlinked living and mechanical systems can be explored in reality.
To relatively quickly test concepts of artificial-gravity spinning space habitat systems, the technologies used to build Spacelab and the Space Shuttle can be used to create them. The modular sections of the spinning wheel-like habitat would be wet-launched (filled with the fuel to power the engines that lift them) by an unmanned winged engine vehicle analogous to a "tug". This vehicle could use Space Shuttle Main Engines on enough airframe to get the engines back to the launch site after boosting each wet-launch module into the desired orbital site.
The sections of the wheel-like space habitat are built as a complete station on the ground, connected together and pre-fitted with everything that can be done while later being filled with LOX and LH2 fuel for wet-launching. However, much of the checkout of the space habitat's functions can be done right on the ground this way, prior to its disassembly, launch, and reassembly on site in low earth orbit. Two identical such wheel stations could be built on the ground, the second for use in a mimicking of the activities on the real orbited station, and for use as spares for modules that might not make it all the way to the orbital site.
An essential factor here is that each of the sausage-link-like modules are built for dual use, both as a specifically designed pre-fitted section of a spinning artificial-gravity space habitat of a mile or so in diameter, and also as a one-time fuel tank to hold the fuel that is used by the SSMEs to launch the module into orbit. (Precedents are the wet-launched Spacelab of the '70s from Apollo hardware, and the
concepts others have proposed for using the current Space Shuttle's disposable external tank as raw material for building a space station.) In this concept, free-fall high vacuum in-orbit manned assembly processes can be nearly eliminated. Given teleoperated docking, the entire ring of modules could be put into orbit, locked together into a ring configuration, degassed, filled with breathable atmosphere, and spun up to nominal artificial gravity even before the first human enters the space habitat. Once such spin-up and pressurization is accomplished remotely, all that remains for the human presence would be to remove and discard the collapsed internal liners, stock it with fragile supplies, and bring the humans and other life forms on board to live in it.
HIGH EFFICIENCY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM CONCEPTS FROM MOON TO GEO
Although the entirety of the initial 1.5 million Island-One space habitats could be built of materials brought up on the kinetic structure bridges, the environmental stress on the earth ecosystem can be minimized by obtaining most of the structural materials from the Lunar surface, where there is abundant aluminum and glass, among many other raw materials. So a real "spaceport" could be built in GEO after the first several Island-One habitats are proven out there, and design becomes stabilized in practical use on site. It would be much easier to maintain a transportation link between GEO and the lunar surface than it is from the earth surface. So a large transportation link to move construction materials from the Moon's surface to Clarke Belt construction sites would be very helpful.
Several potential high efficiency large volume transportation concepts exist for the unidirectional transportation from the Moon toward the Earth. Investigate forms of materials-pumps utilizing the greater depth of potential energy of the adjacent earth's gravity well, to lift materials up from its surface, past L-1 and down to the Clarke Belt orbit around the Earth.
One of the earliest (1971) concepts was the author's "Mooncable: Gravitational-Electric Siphon in Space", a tether from the lunar surface through L1 held in place by the weight of the tether on the earthside of L1, made of fiberglass in a constant-stress crossection configuration, used as a electric space elevator structure where electric tracks on the cable transferred the electrical power generated by the downward dynamic electromagnetic braking of the earthside payload was conducted over across L1 to raise more payload up the tethered cable to the L1 balance point, thus supplying the energy for its own transportation process, once primed, analogous to a siphon.
THE MASS DRIVER
The most famous transportation system proposed is by Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill, called the "mass driver". Analogous to particle accellerators and linear motors, buckets of lunar raw materials would be electromagnetically accelerated down an immense linear motor structure, launching it in the vacuum low gravity Lunar environment. This was envisioned originally for use in building Island-One space habitats at the L4 and L5 Lagrange sites, 240,000 miles above the earth.
A MODIFIED SKYHOOK
In the late "70s, Dr. Hans Moravec proposed the "Skyhook", which would have been an immense cartwheeling cable whose center of gravity would be in high earth orbit, a cable so long that as it cartwheeled each end would in turn dip down into earth's atmosphere where appropriately timed and positioned payload could be "hooked", while equal incoming payload mass was hooked to the upper part of the cable; continuing to cartwheel, the earth-to-orbit payload would be raised, while the space-to-earth payload mass was lowered, conserving energy.
Perhaps some of the principles of this "Skyhook" concept could be put to use in a moon-to-earth orbit materials pump which continually circulates between a pickup point on the farside of the moon, to a dropoff point in earth orbit. The gravitational energy at the dropoff point would be slightly lower than the gravitational pickup level on the lunar surface, and the energy would be stored as angular momentum spin energy of the pickup vehicle's mass tethered to the picked-up payload mass. 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, such as aluminum and glass from the Moon's surface. Altering the length of the tether during transit toward the earth, and precise timing of the release of the payload within earth's deeper gravitational well, would restore the energy used to make the pickup, and thus be used for the next pickup on the lunar farside. This would again be a "materials pump", or "siphon", as it's transportation energy would be maintained by the fortuitous closeness of the much deeper gravitational well of the planet Earth... Like a siphon works.
ANOTHER KINETIC TRANSPORTATION STRUCTURE, BUT ON THE MOON
Eventually, however, probably another kinetic elliptical bridge structure would be built on the Moon, to boost raw materials to a stationary point perhaps as high as L1. Between L1 and GEO, conventional reaction engine transportation systems still seems necessary to fill in the remaining change in velocity.
POWER SOURCES FOR KINETIC STRUCTURE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS
One of the best features of the kinetic structure transportation system concept is that it uses electricity as its power source. Initially that electrical power would come from earth resources such as fossil fuel powerplants, nuclear and hydroelectric powerplants. The efficiency of not having to carry the fuel to lift the other fuel is apparent. However, an even more environment-conservation factor is seen when one considers the possibility of using solar-electric power stations in space to power the transportation system, and even supply a surplus of electrical power which can be extracted at the earthsurface contact point for use in earth surface electrical power grids, substituting for fossil fuels, nuclear and hydroelectric energy sources, preserving the ecosystem and maintaining a high level of electrical power for use by earthsurface civilizations, available on into the distant future. This electrical power would come from solar-electric "thrusters", which resemble a reaction engine hovering at constant altitude alongside the kinetic bridge structure. Solar energy would be converted into electrical energy using technology developed for Solar Satellite Power Stations; however, instead of being converted into a microwave power beam, the electrical energy would be used to electromagnetically accelerate the downward-flowing side of the kinetic bridge's mass stream; the equal upward reaction would support the weight of the "thruster" under the earth's gravitational pull, being at an orbital velocity somewhat too low to otherwise maintain its fixed orbital altitude. Thus the overall kinetic structure transportation system would provide all its energy requirements, and could also provide extra for earthsurface electrical power grids as well.
THE EARTH-GIRDLING RING OF SPACE HABITATS: CLARKE BELT CITY
At least one ring of space habitats could be built in the Clarke Belt connected continuously to earth surface by the kinetic transportation bridge structures around the equator. There are very many possible configurations of space habitats useable here, not just the wheel-like torus configuration extensively described in NASA-SP413. I chose it as an example because that form of space habitat has been very extensively designed for use at L5, sometimes called the O'Neill colonies for Dr. Gerard O'Neill who was instrumental in their conceptualization. Each of these space habitats would have provided an inner diameter of 390 feet, have rotating artificial gravity with a wheel diameter of 1 mile, adequate atmospheric pressure, and passive radiation shielding. They had nearly self-sufficient agricultural areas of 180 sq ft/person, 36 sq ft/person for mechanical and life support functions, and comfortable, landscaped living space of 390 sq ft/person for 10,000 people each habitat. Given an a small separation apart, there is room for one and a half million of them along the circumference of the Clarke Belt. Multiplying 10,000 people each times 1.5 million habitats, shows that it could hold up to 15 billion people, much more than the entire earth's population now (5.5 billion). So this design for a space habitat was chosen as an appropriate example.
However, this design for a habitat is not an optimum design for this application. At L5, it did not compete for sunlight with neighbor habitats, nor did it have to precess completely around once every 24 hours, as it would if rigidly linked to other habitats as an earth-circling banded torus in GEO. Other basic configurations might include spinning spheres within fixed shielding spheres, or lower-density torus's connected at their axis' only.
A second generation of an earth-girdling Clarke Belt space colony might be like a continuous 6-foot thick glass tube extending all the way around the planet in GEO, with another inner tube rotating inside the glass's mass shield, turning inner radius to outer radius fast enough to provide earth normal apparent gravity effects. This makes an essentially continuous space habitat, although it could be sectioned off at various places along its circumference.
IT MUST FEEL LIKE EARTH NORMAL
The more the internal environment resembles earth normal, the more able it will be to sustain a balanced ecosystem based on imported current earth life form diversity. Continuous circulation of people and other life forms, like pets, between earthsurface and the Clarke Belt abode would maintain compatibility and minimize accelerated evolutionary effects common to isolated ecosystems.
IT CAN MAKE EARTH NORMAL
With the potential of an excellent standard of living for all in the Clarke Belt City, at a level unattainable on most of the earth's surface, much of the human population could move there, relieving Mother Earth's ecosystem from the continued support of an oversize, largely sub-optimally competent civilization. The rest of the solar system offers its substance for use by mankind to build these artificial earthnormal dwellings, finally bringing the candle of life to them. And maintained by an average earthsurface tourist population of perhaps only 100 million, the entire earth surface ecosystem could become a cherished, pampered national park, a treasurehouse of genetic diversity.
There is an opportunity to apply General Systems theories to a potentially very significant transportation technology during its early development. The systems involved potentially cover nearly every aspect of life, as it would lead to massive space colonization. The basic kinetic energy supported bridge structure is envisioned something like an ellipse, with the internal mass stream accelerator at the low Earth surface contact point, and the high end of the ellipse contacting the geosynchronous orbit above the other side of the planet. Using the first bridge structure, the first 10,000-person "Island One" type space habitat could be built entirely from Earth surface resources, first of 1,500,000 to ring the planet....
SPECIAL APPRECIATIVE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS TO:
Jules Verne, for the concept of self-contained artificial worlds
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, rotational artificial gravity, greenhouse
Werner Von Braun, space vision, projects, hardware
Arthur C. Clarke, for the concept of placing geostationary objects in orbit 22,300 miles above the equator... space habitats at Lagrange libration points, Lunar electromagnetic mass accelerators, and for countless other inspirations on space subjects.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, for demonstrating our Lunar presence
Gerard K. O'Neill, for mass driver and space habitat configurations, and the energy he gave to the concept that space colonization was possible in our time (could have been).
Hans Moravec, for imaginatively publicizing the potentials of very long space transportation structures.
Gordon Woodcock & Peter Glaser, Solar Power Space Satellite concepts
Freeman Dyson: zillions of people in artificial space colonies
Keith Loftstrom, for the concept of the "Launch Loop", a circulating quasi-arch of high velocity magnetically-accelerated earthsurface- to-low-earth orbital altitude kinetic structure.
Rod Hyde, for the "Starbridge" concept, a vertical kinetic structure from earthsurface to low earth orbital altitudes.
Earle Smith, for the concept of an elliptical kinetic structure from earth surface around to the geostationary orbit.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for being instrumental in making things happen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Edward David Cline tends to be an insightful, enthusiastic innovator, an INFP psychological type. A generalist from the beginning, with far too many interests. Working at White Sands Missile Range in radio telemetry while a co-op student, majored in physics, then psychology, in college; then, unknowingly being "co-dependent", dropped out of college to go find a wife. He worked for the FAA maintaining ground transmitter stations; did electro-optical work under ARPA contracts working for EHPA in Santa Monica; worked for Teledyne; was divorced; did development work on a spacecraft camera system at JPL under contract; worked on disk drive engineering at Pertec Computer Corp (co-authored a patent on MFM phase locked loops there); worked for Shugart Corporation (becoming an unusual non-degreed second level Electronics Design Development Electronics Engineer); and currently ekes out a living as an electronic technician for a car alarm company, VSE. Often is frustrated by politico-corporate power struggles which sometimes subtly interfere with his life when they consider his ideas too radical and threatening to their established plans. He does his "real work" writing on space & ground transportation concepts, much of it in the GEnie computer network Spaceport library (Genie M460, Space and Science Libraries, author J.E.D.Cline1); and also in the holistic health field ... still driven by that "generalist" energy.