Similar to the dynamic braking of an electric motor/generator, which connects the kinetic energy of the rotating armature into a torque force drag against the stationary stator part of the motor/generator, the electromagnetic drag of a rapidly rising series of armature sections drags upward on the stationary part of a very tall structure to exactly balance the weight of the stationary structure, the lift force distributed along the structure. With appropriately fast rising mass and electromagnetic coupling balancing the distributed weight, earth surface to space transportation structures become conceivable. The fast rising armature mass stream also distributes electromagnetic lift drag energy coupling to vehicles rising up that structure to space. Stabilized by laterally-coupling mass stream pairs and by active position feedback servo systems, these would be dynamic transportation bridging structures. Seed KESTS would be launched and flown up and around the planet back to the starting point, then bootstrapped up to full working size. Such electrically powered rail bridging transportation structures from Earth surface to GEO could conceivably provide the massive transportation capacity to build a new civilization encircling the Earth in the Clark Belt geosynchronous orbit, a long term project hopefully to unite humanity toward common cooperative venture goals.
Copyright © 1997 by James Edward David Cline.
A Brief Description of the KESTS Concept
Kinetic energy can stiffen and strengthen structures. Analogous examples include balloons and pressurized fuel tanks that are strengthened by the kinetic energy of the internal pressurized gas’s omnidirectional kinetic energy; and a jet of high pressure liquid creates an arch shaped structure in agravitational field. The arch formed by that high pressure mass stream jet of liquid could support the weight of a lightweight sheath around it, a sheath unmoving relative to the ground, forming a kind of bridge supported by kinetic energy.
Now consider an electromechanical analog of that high pressure jet of liquid. Recall that electrical energy is converted to kinetic energy by electrical motors, rotary and linear. Motors can be designed to do the reverse, too, becoming an electrical generator driven by kinetic energy. And torque or thrust is also coupled between the relatively moving parts of a motor/generator.
Imagine an electric rotary motor/generator whose armature (rotor), instead of spinning around a central shaft, slides around inside the stator on a maglev (magnetic levitation) track. And imagine that armature being in sections, not physically directly connected to each other, like many trains riding the same maglev tracks, in a circle.
Stretch out the motor/generator so big that it circles the Earth, using the gravitational field to pull it around in a closed loop which contacts the earthsurface on one part and then reaches out to GEO far above the opposite side of the planet as it goes around. Have the armature sections travel on the maglev tracks inside evacuated tubing at above orbital velocity. Let the dynamic drag of the upward-bound armature sections provide a lift force on the track-stator-tubing exactly that amount required to support the distributed weight of the tubing, making the tubing earthsurface-stationary. This acts to compress the trajectory of the mass stream toward the Earth. Thus the tensile strength of the tubing need only be enough to cope with the static and live loads between drag lift mechanism points along the tubing. As the creation of this lift force extracts some of the kinetic energy from the armature mass stream, each armature section’s position and velocity is re-initialized at the earthsurface contact site, initially drawing the energy needed to do this from the earthsurface electrical power grid.
Continuing with this envisioning, put maglev tracks also on the outside of the tubing, for payload-carrying vehicles to use. Enable those vehicles also to drag electromagnetically on the high velocity rising mass stream of armature sections, lifting the vehicles up the structure from earthsurface to space, up to the GEO Clarke Belt orbital altitude. Call this transportation structure a “KESTS”, short for Kinetic Energy Supported Electrically Powered Transportation Structures. Use the KESTS to lift construction materials up to GEO for building the first few large-scale space habitats, such as mile-diameter wheel-like habitats with 1-g STP interiors for 10,000 people each, including agriculture and light industry. Build more of these large space habitats, mostly made of lunar and asteroidal-sourced materials, loosely coupling them together to infill the Clarke Belt with them. Each complete ring of them is home for 15 billion people. Build enough KESTS to lift 1,000,000 people a day to the Clarke Belt Orbital Habitat Ring, along with their household belongings. Make the Orbital Habitat Ring (OHR) sufficiently safe and luxurious to entice the majority of the earthsurface population to move up the KESTS to live in it, creating a new primary site for human civilization. Restore the earthsurface ecosystem to natural balance. Expand human civilization outward from the Earth’s OHR. This is an outline of a KESTS to OHR (Kinetic Energy Supported Electrically Powered Transportation Structure to an Orbiting Habitat Ring) project.1
Building transportation structures, a form of elevator-bridges, to connect the ground all the way up to orbital altitudes may seem absurd; however, such structures are being considered here. The intent is to create a transportation system adequate to the task of lifting the majority of the Earth’s population up into space, lifting perhaps 7 billion people and their household goods over a 20 year time span, to live in a ring of loosely coupled large scale 1-g STP interior habitats encircling the Earth in the geosynchronous Clarke Belt orbit. This is hoped will enable a near-future vigorous expansion of earthlife into space, expanding human civilization far beyond that possible in a closed ecosystem, and restoration of the Earth’s surface ecosystem to a healthy long term balance as a precious biological resource for the future. An electrically powered bridging rail transportation structure spanning between the earth surface and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit seems most likely to have the capacity to be able to do that task.
Historically, the urge to climb high to a safe haven may reach as far back as the trees; in the dawn of civilization, the Tower of Babel at E-Temen-An-Ki had the goal of building a tower from ground to the heavens; in 1960 Artsutanov proposed a geosynchronous centrifugally supported tether type of tower structure for supporting an electric elevator into space; in 1982 Keith Lofstrom proposed a kinetically augmented structure called a Launch Loop which was a continuous belt loosely driven between two pulleys, the centrifugal force of the loose belt flinging it to the fringes of the atmosphere in its journey around the pulleys; in 1985 Rod Hyde proposed a vertical tower enclosing a fountain of electromagnetically coupled beryllium disks, which he calculated could lift the combined weight of every human being on the planet up to the fringes of the atmosphere while using only the electrical energy used by the City of Los Angeles in a mere two weeks; and also in 1985 Earle Smith proposed a continuous belt eccentrically reaching around the planet, contacting the planetary surface on the equator and reaching geosynchronous earth orbit at its high point above the far side of the planet.2,3,4,5,6
Quickly moving the primary site of human civilization off-planet has been considered essentially an impossible option up until now. But at the present time, human civilization piles up unrecyclable toxic refuse, entropically dispersing metallic ore deposits beyond reconcentration, burns the oxygen producing rainforests along with their genetic treasures, and burns fossil fuels a million times faster than a forested ecosystem could replace it. In terms of population size, we long ago passed the limits for long term sustainable levels for living in harmony with the natural ecosystem, even given a fully aware and responsible humanity of only 10% of the present population.
KESTS as a Key to an Overall Solution
People prefer to live in man-made structures, and space habitats are about as man-made as you can get. So let us consider creating a transportation system adequate to move some 7 billion people over a period of 20 years out to the Clarke Belt, along with their household belongings, plants and pets, along with all the agricultural, industrial, and markets civilization needs for a solid resettlement there. For now, let us just create the option; later humanity can choose to utilize it or not. KESTS may be able to shoulder that task, along with lifting the construction materials for the first few such 10,000-person space habitats, solar electric power stations, and construction materials for a head start in building an asteroidal and lunar mining and materials processing base to provide structural materials for most of the vast ring of space habitats to orbit the Earth, a site for a great civilization and way station to the solar system’s resources there awaiting to be brought to life.
Basic KESTS Technology
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 distributed weight of the fixed structure supported by electromagnetic drag against the rapidly rising armature mass streams. The mass stream armature sections’ velocity 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 armature 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 at the earthsurface contact sites.7
To support the enormous weight of such earth surface to space bridging structures, electrodynamic coupling of equally enormous upward bound armature mass streams traveling within them circulating at faster than orbital velocity, drag electromagnetically upward on the earthsurface-stationary part of the structures, slowing the upward bound mass stream slightly in return for support of that weight, compressing the trajectories slightly toward the Earth. This distributes the energy required to provide the upward force that opposes the force of gravity on the earth-stationary part of the transportation structure, electromagnetically dragging against the structure as it rises, just enough to balance the weight of the structure everywhere along its length, and supplying a small position bias tension.
KESTS Analogy to an Electric Motor/Generator
The structure thus resembles an electric motor/ generator in an electrodynamic braking mode, the mass of the “motionless” stator being torqued by the electromagnetically coupled drag force from the armature rotor whizzing past the stator, positioned such that the torque provides an upward-oriented force opposing the force of gravity. In this view the “armature” is the mass stream. and the “stator” is the earthsurface-stationary part of the structure.
The Mass Stream Armature Sections
The mass stream is composed of armature sections performing several functions. Their primary function is to provide the storage and exchange of the kinetic energy which supports the compression load of the structure’s weight, and distributes energy to move payload along the structures. Some modified armature sections may also function directly as vehicles transporting payload within the mass stream itself, and other forms of armature sections may be the payload itself on a one-way trip up or down as raw material. Armature sections need to be designed to resist contact with each other somehow avoiding such contact wear; so perhaps they will need periodic automatic inspection and repair/replacement. Armature sections 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 armature section position and velocity, for re-initialization processes, and prevent physical abrasive contact.
KESTS Analogy to a Lasso
To picture how this structure fits into the gravitational space around the Earth, let’s mentally picture a cowboy's lasso, a circle of rope spinning above his head, as in the following drawing. Its semicircular shape is held by energy stored in the lasso, by the centrifugal force distributed outward from the rope loop's center of rotation.
Now mentally extend that fast-spinning rope so as to encircle the earth, grazing the surface of the planet and also reaching far out into space on the other side of the planet. Then sheath the lasso in tubing to exclude air from the path in which it directly moves, supporting the weight of the tubing by compressing it smoothly along the radius of rotation of the spinning lasso, whose centrifugal force would press back outward against the sheath. Attach this tubing to the earth surface where the lasso grazes the planetary surface: the tubing now is effectively a structure extending from the ground out into space. Tapping some of the nearby speedy lasso's kinetic energy, vehicles can lift up along the structure from the ground into space, carrying no propulsion fuel aboard them, like tram cars lifted into space.
The lasso rope is equivalent to the rotor in the motor analogy (which is turn is analogous to the high velocity armature mass stream), and the rim is equivalent to its stator (which in turn is analogous to the earthsurface-stationary part of the structure). Where the lasso/rotor is upward bound in the gravitational field, it provides a lift force on the rim/stator. Laterally-coupled counterrotating pairs of these structures provide upward-bound lasso/rotor (mass stream) kinetic energy to provide lift force to the rim/stator (earthsurface-stationary part of structure) all along its length.
Each of the armature mass streams effectively travel on maglev tracks inside tubing which forms the earthsurface-stationary part of the KESTS structure, the rim/stator part of the structure in the above analogy. On the outside of this earthsurface-stationary tubing, payload-carrying vehicles travel along other maglev tracks. They, too, electrodynamically brake against the rising mass stream as they lift up from the surface of the Earth to the earth geosynchronous orbital altitude, extracting energy from the rising mass stream to provide lift force for the vehicles; this energy is intrinsically distributed all along the transportation structure. Eliminating need for electrical superconductors all along the structure for transferring electrical power to raise vehicles along the structure, the high velocity mass streams provide the energy to the point of need everywhere along the structure, both to support the structure against the force of gravity and to provide lift energy to vehicles riding up to space along the structure.8
Vehicles descending from GEO to the earthsurface along the structure electrodynamically brake against the earthsurface stationary part of the structure. From the preceding diagram, you will see that this is a force lifting the structure up away from the earth, adding potential energy back into the structure.
Vehicles rising along the KESTS will drag the KESTS slightly downward toward the planet in reaction, absorbing energy from the KESTS mass stream in the process of lifting payload; and later when descending back to the planetary surface, the vehicle electromagnetically drags against the tracks of the KESTS, pulling upward on the KESTS in the process of slowing its decent and thus restoring energy back to the transportation system. Similarly, the counter rotating laterally coupled pairs of mass streams, forced into matching trajectories, conserve the overall energy within the mass streams even though they continually are being accelerated by each other away from their orbital paths. The efficiency of this process will be determined by the various electrical to kinetic energy conversion processes, especially the electromagnetic bearing efficiency.
Earth rotates, so attaching the structure to the equator means that the whole structure must similarly rotate too. A pair of mass streams following a parallel course, but rotating in opposite directions, and restrained to a common adjacent parallel trajectory by lateral shear force coupling all along its length, forces the mass streams to follow the rotation of the planet.
The electrical power input to the mass stream pairs initially would be at the planetary surface contact sites, which also provides the re-referencing of the mass stream velocities relative the the ground. This electrical power would initially come from conventional electric power grids, but then would convert over to space solar-electric power sources. KESTS to GEO makes it easy to lift the weight of construction materials for SSPS to GEO, which then would beam millimeter wave energy back down to rectennas near the KESTS ground site, providing power for the KESTS transportation structure. Building more SSPS thusly in GEO would provide salable electric power to the rest of the world, similar to what was originally envisioned in the 1970's, although in that scenario SSPS construction required a major lunar infrastructure first to provide construction materials. An alternate power source form would be to attach solar-electric power plant thrusters to the KESTS in space, which support their non-orbital velocity weight component by thrust against the downward-going mass streams, adding kinetic energy thusly to the mass stream, which effectively lifts up on the laterally coupled upward-bound mass streams, adding energy to the KESTS; excess mass stream kinetic energy can be extracted by dynamic drag against the magnetically pulsating downward-headed mass streams at the surface contact sites, providing salable space solar-derived electric power to commercial electric power grids as a byproduct, without requiring microwave power transmission from space to the ground.
KESTS potentially have some interesting properties, primarily useful as supportive structures for rail transportation between the earth surface and earth orbital altitudes, as a distributor of transportation energy along itself, as an energy storage system, and possibly as a prime provider of solar-derived electric power to earthsurface commercial electric power grids.
Electric elevator type access from ground to space has long been of interest, because of its potential high efficiency, electrical power source, low environmental pollution, and huge payload capacity, as compared to chemical reaction engine propulsion transportation systems serving in the ground-to-space function.
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 armature is going around faster than the orbital velocity at any altitude, held lower by the weight of the sustained loads of passive structure and its live loads. The armature mass stream couples to its environment through electrical 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. The 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. Note that 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.
Non-uniform electromagnetic fields couple kinetic energy between a circulating loop of high velocity mass, which appear as pulsating magnetic fields to stationary parts of the mass stream's environment, inducing alternating currents and defining the phasing for inputting electrical power into the mass stream. The mass stream whirling around a planetary body in an eccentric path, which contacts the surface at its low point, is squeezed toward the planet by the weight of portions of the structure which are stationary relative to the planet.
Each mass stream is contained within the tubing in which it flows, tubing which excludes the atmosphere where near the earth, supports vehicular tracks, defines the path of the mass streams, and provides structure for the lateral shear coupling between counter rotating mass streams. Payload is carried primarily in vehicles on low-friction maglev tracks, and the vehicles electromagnetically drag on the upward-bound mass stream when rising up the KESTS.
KESTS to GEO, otherwise known as the Clarke Belt, would have the advantage of requiring minimum difficulty embarking and disembarking at either terminal due to velocities being intrinsically matched at both ends, potentially a walk-on at earthsurface ground level,and walk-off into the Clarke Belt easy process.4,7
KESTS to an Orbital Habitat Ring in Low Earth Orbit would reduce the need for shielding of the habitats, and the KESTS would be a significantly smaller structure. However, there would be a major difference in velocity between the KESTS, which only rotates at the angular velocity of the earth, and the Low Earth Orbit habitats, so this form of KESTS would need to support a section of electromagnetic rail accelerator structure, for providing the 18,000 mph delta-v between the KESTS and the Orbital Habitat Ring in Low Earth Orbit.
KESTS Quasi-Elliptical Shape
The shape of the KESTS is only approximately elliptical. The armature mass streams experience external forces all along their length, not only from the orbital mechanics component of movement in the planetary gravitational field, but also from the trajectory compression distributed electromagnetic drag against the tubing weight support sites, geometric electromagnetic mass stream benders, solar-electric powerplant mass thruster sites, and vehicular live loads, all of which act to distort the KESTS shape from a true ellipse.
Electromagnetic Mass Stream Benders
To give the mass stream re-initialization site a somewhat steeper angle above the horizon to work with, electromagnetic mass stream benders may be useful. Gravity gradient oriented, and position held by modulating drag against both upware bound and downward bound armature mass streams, benders would put a kink into the shape of the mass stream passing through it, raising the launch angle slightly.
KESTS Stabilizing Mechanisms
Stability of KESTS structures basically would come from a balance between the slight upward stretch energy bias between the mass stream and the weight of the stationary portions of the structure, the overall structure being slightly stretched mechanically, taken up by conventional tensile strength of materials of the tubing and lateral coupling. Yet a KESTS would also be an active structure, which can have its shape and lateral position adjusted by altering the exit velocity vector of the mass streams at the ground contact re-initialization site. Position stability would thus also be controlled by anticipation of changing loads along the structure, so as to resist wind loads and unbalanced vehicular loads around the structure's length. All the differential expected loads need to be integrated into the re-initialization launch vectors of the mass stream as it exits the ground site, and the tubing and lateral shear coupling portions of the structure need to be strong enough to withstand these forces. If it is found that dynamic anticipatory position feedback servoing is inadequate to adequately stabilize the KESTS position, then passive dampers would need to be installed along the KESTS.
Stresses in KESTS Tubing
The stresses on the solid part of the structure, which involves the KESTS tubing structures, include the tensile load consisting of the weight of the small section of tubing, lateral shear coupling structure, maglev tracks on the inside and outside of the tubing, and live loads riding outside the tubing, as summed over the distance between electromagnetic drag mechanism sites on the tubing. These sites are of necessity very close to each other, perhaps built as an intrinsically distributed mechanism everywhere in the tubing. Since electromagnetic drag against the rising high velocity mass stream is adjusted to almost exactly match the weight of the solid structure and live loads summed between drag mechanism sites on the solid structure, the tubing does not carry significant amounts of the weight of the rest of the structure, with longitudinal forces thus very small in the tubing.
The wall thickness of the tubing will be defined mostly by the above mentioned associated parameters of KESTS equations for a particular manifestation of a KESTS structure. It would be a primary parameter, of course, if the earthsurface-stationary tubing were supported only by its hanging on the mass stream, thus requiring a constant stress tubing crossection and requiring the strength of perhaps diamond fiber. Such a more efficient KESTS perhaps will evolve and be built when massive space manufacturing facilities are available in the relatively distant future; but the present concept is for KESTS structures which can be built from existing materials without requiring significant advances in strength of available materials, constructible and sustainable in the relatively near future with only technology development required. Once the OHR is established, undoubtedly technology advances will enable the emplacement of new forms of large scale KESTS built in zero-g high vacuum manufacture.
Emplacement of KESTS Around the Planet
The early emplacement concepts techniques by Loftstrom (the Launch Loop concept) and Smith (THe Texas and Universe Railroad, out to GEO) 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 (Starbridge) 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. 2,3,4
General Emplacement Concepts at Present
Emplacing these extraordinarily large bridging structures represents further engineering challenge. Bootstrapping processes seem appropriate, building upon seed KESTS. Some KESTS seed emplacement techniques include those which either launch & fly a single orbit back to the launch site trailing seed KESTS tubing, propelled by reaction thrust of expendable mass stream components being reversed in direction in the nose piece, and providing temporary distributed electromagnetic drag bending resistance to the trailing tubing; or a rather brute force technique of launch of the mass stream itself punching through the atmosphere driven by one of several propulsion techniques (chemical reaction engines; mass drivers of various types; or millimeter wave energy beams) upon which then the initial tubing is laid. Such seed KESTS launch emplacements surely will be a marvel of engineering and coordination and courage.
The initial seed KESTS could be emplaced from the re-initiallization site simultaneously launched in opposite directions from the equator, propelled by an expendable mass stream bouncing off the nosepiece of the rising KESTS, perhaps initially assisted by high velocity gas against its portions where leaving the ground, and/or by millimeter wave directed beam energy inputting power distributed to the already airborne portions of the KESTS to be used to then heat air as reaction mass to provide upward thrust distributed along its length. The nosepiece of the seed KESTS would be flown like an airplane which is airborne high yet with portions still on the ground, and flown around the planet, trailing the seed KESTS tubing, to again return to the launch site from the opposite direction; the lateral shear coupling then being added up both directions starting immediately when both seed KESTS arrive at the re-initialization site. Once the seed KESTS is thusly emplaced, it would be used to support the lifting of ever larger KESTS tubing structures upon it, bootstrapping until exponentially built to full capacity size.
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 Hyde’s “Starbridge” 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 drag against the mass stream hurtling through it, as in the conventional KESTS form. The nose thruster’s 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 glass fiber with magnetic inclusions in it, delivered at, say, 4 miles worth per second, accumulates respectably.9
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 parallel contrarotating pair of tubeless KESTS mass streams first, then installs evacuated tubing around it, forming the basic structure of the KESTS. 10
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. 11
KESTS to GEO But Not Anchored on the Equator
There may be possible KESTS configurations which attach to the ground at sites mirrored about the equatorial plane, for example attached at both New England and Argentina, or eastern China and western Australia, instead of connecting at the equator itself.
Such KESTS structures would have more convenient transportation terminal sites for existing centers of civilization, and even be a means for transporting between those distant ground sites by way of space; although they would have different stabilization parameters and require perhaps double the construction materials to build than would equatorial KESTS. Comparison with Tether Types of Transportation
KESTS perhaps will eventually be supplanted by centrifugally-supported equatorial tethers, for long-term sustenance 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 relatively near future time frame: first, KESTS do not need development of carbon monofilliament (diamond monofilliament) tether material before construction; second, KESTS do not need to be built starting at GEO; third, tethers are unlikely to have the enormous transportation capacity to relocate the 1,000,000 people per day necessary to shift civilization to the OHR; and fourth, perhaps most importantly, KESTS inherently distributes the transportation energy needed to move payload along their length, without wires.
Basic Psychological Challenges to the Project
Would mankind choose to endure the massive change of commitments in nearly every field of human endeavor, rising above entrenched technologies and cultures, which would be required during the move of most of civilization to the Orbital Habitat Ring site as transported by KESTS, even to save their civilization and the Earth's ecosystem? It is so very difficult to get out of the entrenched ways of life; the familiar is more predictable and thus seems more comfortable; and change produces a sometimes unwelcome stress of striving to cope with the unexpected. Yet we do choose to buy new clothes, new computers, new cars, new homes. So perhaps we will also choose KESTS to Orbital Habitat Rings around our precious Earth.
Unprecedented universal levels of goodwill and cooperation will be necessary to fully complete the KESTS to OHR project, from the direct personal level to the international level. Mankind will need to reach new heights of wholesome cooperative work toward mutual goals, and stay there. Like Eskimos in their umiak, we survive through Methexis participation.12
1. On KESTS, vehicles traveling between Earth surface and Earth orbital altitudes do not carry propulsion fuel. This contrasts with conventional chemical fueled reaction engine powered launch vehicles which must utilize the great majority of their lift capacity to lift the fuel necessary for orbital insertion. Also, conventional vehicle return to earthsurface requires energy-wastful heat-shielded dissipation of vehicular energy during the atmospheric reentry; but during deceleration of vehicular mass during return to earthsurface along KESTS occurs, the electromagnetic braking force supplies lift energy to the KESTS and thus returns 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.
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. Much work could soon be done in the mathematical analysis of suborbital mechanics and engineering design, relevant 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 armature segments need to be somewhat standardized providing as small a stream size as is practical, and providing for bundling many of these small ones to provide the higher carrying capacity of a particular application. Enough technology needs to be developed to build demonstration functional models for people to look at and touch, perhaps to ride upon.
4. 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.13
2. Since the primary need for KESTS technology is to enable the Orbital Habitat Ring’s 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 “go for the gold”.
3. The next 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 for the Space Shuttle development. The wheel-shaped space habitat is first built on the ground in the form of pre-fitted modules linked in a mile-diameter circle. The design of each module is for dual use, the other use is for being the fuel tank of an unmanned engine & control module vehicle 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 prefitted modules to build artificial gravity space habitats 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. 14
5. First adequately shielded space habitat in GEO Orbital Habitat Ring a 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 harmonious social systems, and millions of the other things needing to be tested out there too. In a reference design of 1976, 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.15,16
6. 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
7. 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. Transport this material from the Moon's surface to the vicinity of the site for the Orbital Habitat Ring, 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 Moravec’s creation of the spinning Skyhook concept. Lunar mass drivers, and lunar elevator tethers through L1 are other technologies worthy of consideration for this purpose.17,18
8. Successful full-size fully functional habitats built on site in Earth orbit from lunar construction materials, such as the 10,000-person toroidal design.
9. Robotically-built basic habitat shell structure made on site at OHR altitude out of lunar materials.
10. Sustainable construction rate of 300 orbiting habitats robotically-built per day in the OHR from lunar/asteroidal raw materials.
11. First million square kilometers of earthsurface restored back into pre-civilization ecosystem state.
12. Construction/population of second Orbiting Habitat Ring, populated by 7 billion descendants of first habitat ring's thriving growing population.
13. 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.
Safety and Reliability Issues
Safety and reliability of KESTS structures is a primary consideration of the concept’s application. Not only to that which might be injured by falling pieces of damaged KESTS, but also to other KESTS, to the people and payload on the KESTS at the time, and to those dependent on KESTS-delivered products both in the Orbiting Habitat Ring and on the Earth surface. Aircraft crash liability and shipping liability models may be starting points for these issues. It is hoped that empirical experience in developing this technology will minimize these substantial risks; and the use of KESTS seed emplacement and bootstrapping construction processes will start with small risk, and thereafter gain confidence with experience and growing size of the first KESTS being built to GEO. The seed KESTS are envisioned preferably as being of tubing size a small fraction of an inch in diameter, minimizing possible damage worldwide upon its fall in a developmental testing crash of a seed KESTS.
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?
3. Pulsing magnetic fields present a hazard to living beings: The coupling of the mass stream to the enclosing tube structure and to vehicles moving along the structure is primarily of a pulsing electromagnetic 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? 1
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 effects of the mass stream’s electromagnetic flow within the earth’s magnetic field?
8. 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.
9. 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?
Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structures potentially have some interesting properties, primarily as a supportive structure for efficient electrically powered rail transportation, and also as a distributor of transportation energy along itself, as an energy storage system, and possibly as a provider of space solar-derived electric power to earthsurface commercial electric power grids. The compressive strength of these enormous structures bridging between earthsurface and space is greatly augmented by radially compressing supra-orbital velocity mass streams whirling within a bridging structure around the planet, their outward centrifugal force providing primary support for the weight of the enclosing tubing structure and its associated track and vehicle system; electromagnetic drag against the high velocity rising armature mass stream providing distributed support of the weight of the earthsurface-stationary parts of the structure. Similarly, vehicular propulsion energy is electromagnetically coupled from the armature mass stream to vehicles carrying payload along tracks on its tubing, thus lift energy is distributed intrinsically to the point of need. Only a small fraction of kinetic energy within the mass stream is consumed per transit loop, so there is much energy stored in the system, providing some resiliency. KESTS to GEO would provide the lift capacity for building large scale Solar Satellite Power Stations in GEO, thus providing electric power for itself and for sale to others; additionally, solar-electric powered mass thrusters mounted on the KESTS itself may be able to input power enough to maintain support of the KESTS and provide surplus electric power for use on Earth surface electric power grids, delivered by the mass stream instead of by microwave energy. Bootstrapping construction from seed KESTS which is emplaced by mass stream nose thrust-reversing flyable versions is described as one emplacement technique for these massive structures. A KESTS configuration for direct access from higher earth latitudes is described, utilizing surface contact points which are mirrored about the equatorial plane. KESTS concepts suggest to us a way to move ourselves and our civilization's belongings far and high into Earth orbit, enabling earth life to massively occupy the relatively motionless orbit of the Clarke Belt. 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, preserving a vigorous expanding civilization and restoring the Earth’s surface ecosystem at the same process, hopefully beginning in our time.
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