Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structures

Sub Menu contents

KESTS: Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structures

Basics: This space transportation structure concept is based on simple ideas: a whirling hoop generates an outward centrifugal force within itself. And, this whirling hoop can be in the form of an electric motor. And more, the hoop could encircle a planet or moon. And more, the hoop could take an elliptical shape like most orbits are, and, properly shielded from air, graze the planetary surface, to provide a connection from ground to space, that could be used for efficient electrically powered transport to and from space.

Concevably such transportation could approach the cost of energy added to mass by moving it from the Earth's equator up into GEO , 7.3KWh per pound, or 73 cents per pound at 10 cents per KWh. (Compare that with the current cost, about $10,000 per pound, using conventional rocket launch vehicles.)

Again, if that hoop surrounds a gravitational body, such at a planet, that outward centrifugal force is in oppositon to the inward pull of the gravitational field of the planet. At some rotational velocity of the hoop, that outward centrifugal force will exactly balance the inward gravitational force on itself, and all parts will be in orbit. And if, however, that hoop rotates much faster than that exact balancing rotational velocity, then it will have generated excess outward force in opposition to the gravitational force, and that excess force could support non-rotating mass in the gravitational field of the planet.

That excess outward force can be used to support non-rotating mass such as that of payload-carrying captive vehicles, and the mass of a shell structure suround the rotating hoop, which provides an evacuated environment for the hoop where it dips into the Earth's atmosphere, and to support magnetic levitation bearing surface tracks that couple the relative movements between the hoop, the shell, and the vehicles.

Circular KESTS: The hoop could be in the shape of a circle, say at an altitude of ten kilometers, located within the Earth's equatorial plane. If it is rotating much faster than orbital velocity at that altitude, it could support the weight of vehicles traveling along the hoop. And if the hoop is connected to the ground at places around the planet by inflated tower structures, it could provide intercontinal transport between land masses that lie along the equator, with no free flying powered vehicles involved. This is referred to as a "Circular KESTS" on these pages.

Of far more potential is the KESTS to GEO version: If the hoop is in the form of an ellipse or otherwise eccentric shape in the planetary field, such as one grazing the planet's surface at the equator at its low point, and grazing GEO at its high point above the opposite side of the planet, then it has potential for providing transportation between ground and GEO.

(Above graphic is from a paper titled “KINETIC ENERGY SUPPORTED ELECTRICALLY POWERED TRANSPORTATION STRUCTURES” which the author wrote and presented in May 1997 at the Space Studies Institute's space conference at Princeton, NJ, but was unfortunately rejected for publication by the SSI at the time.)

The elliptical or quasi-elliptical shaped hoop is of special interest since it has this potential for enabling transportation between ground and high earth orbit, without the use of rocket propelled vehicles. And it would be an electrically driven transportation mechanism. And if used to transport materials to construct Solar Power Satellites in GEO, then energy from a solar power satellite could be beamed down to provide power to the KESTS transportation structure itself, from then on, independent of Earth surface energy supplies.

Another form of energy input to power the KESTS utilizes mass thrusters placed on the structure below GEO, with solar energy converted into electrical downward accelleration of the hoop passing through it, would support the weight of the mass thruster while providing an equal accellerating force to the hoop.

This kind of KESTS hoop's energy dynamics are shown in the following diagram, from the author's 2004 presentation at the ASCE space conference in League City, TX:

Here are some more parameters of the KESTS to GEO electric lifting motor configuration, especially focusing on the actual energy added to payload mass by moving it from the Earth's equator up into Geostationary Earth Orbit, a mere 15.7 KWh per kilogram of payload, or $1.57 per kg at a typical commercial power rate of $0.10 per KWh. Completely new kinds of applications can be built in GEO, if the transportation cost to GEO from the ground approaches such a very low transportation cost.

Please see the documents section of this website for more detailed technical papers on the subject of KESTS to GEO written by the author, as well as see the presentations section. And for easy reading of the concepts, please read the science fiction series by the author (J E D Cline), particularly "It's Down to Earth," which are also available in these pages. The sci fi paperback "Building Up" (available at by the author has an extensive technical reference section in its back half. And of course, see the technical papers themselves, particularly the ones of the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) space conferences of 2000, 2002, and 2004.