Also known as KESTS to GEO and "Carousel Space Escalators"
Despite common belief, there is a type of mechanism by which Solar Power Satellites can be economically put into GEO and maintained,and all the pieces to the concept have been around for a long time, some for centuries, some for decades; they just have to be put together in a fully integrated way to work - just like any other electrical motor does. Here is one way to do it. However, this is a project which unfortunately needs to be delayed for the future, despite great need for its potentials now, because clearly from events of the past decade, humanity is just not able to function with adequate harmony, love, and spirit of achieving their common goals, preferring to focus on conflict instead. But maybe someday, maybe soon enough, the intense rivalry among people will see its folly and turn itself off, so we can get to work. - Well, one can dream, anyway. Meantime, here one can dream of what we actually could be doing now together to enable great abundance while restoring the environment. Technology on this section; or dream as science fiction in "Building Up" and "It's Down to Earth".
Revised on July 4, 2008, in the spirit of technological freedom, by Jim Cline - Rev 20081106 JEDCline -
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- A preview of the overall transportation and resource enablement goal set we strive for in this concept -
- the Space Escalator spinning hoop transportation lifting structure is shown in orange color here -
Introduction: Ever since the 1960's when the original Solar Power Satellite concept was proposed, it has been assumed that there is no transportation means that is any ways near sufficiently high capacity and low energy consumption enough to economically build these clean electrical powers sources in the high earth orbit of GEO, so as to be able to preserve remaining petrochemical reserves for future materials usage instead of wastefully consuming them for CO2-producing energy uses.
Purpose: Hopefully you will leave this page with the understanding that there actually is a way to do the job, simply by balancing ON AVERAGE WITHIN A STRUCTURE, the force of gravity on its mass by the outward centrifugal force especially on other parts of its mass; and using part of the upward momentum within the structure to directly lift payload between ground and orbit. The energy to make this electric motor run, is input at the ground terminal, thrusting against the mass of the planet to make the centrifugal parts go around. And that electrical energy can eventually be supplied by the Solar Power Satellites the structure puts into orbit, thus thereafter supplying all the energy it needs to power itself to maintain continuous transportation capacity between GEO orbit and the equatorial ground.
That there is possible way to economically transport between ground and GEO (remember that that the energy added to payload mass is only 15.7 KWhr/kg, 7.2 KWhr per pound mass, about 72 cents of electricity per pound lifted up from ground into GEO; see workenergy ) to build and maintain enough Solar Power satellites to provide enough clean electrical power for all of the countries in the world; and that mechanism is simply a variation of the same mechanism that keep the Moon and other satellites in place, that of balancing the inward gravitational force on a mass, balanced by the outward force of centrifugal force of mass rotating around the planet, this page will have achieved its goal. We would just really put that mechanism into very heavy usage; and the centrifugal force on circulating mass is constrained to a continuous shape and thus is not in free-fall anymore. Constrained to a continuous hoop shape around the planet, and going faster than orbital velocity, its excess outward centrifugal force is taken up either as tensile force in the hoop, or by balancing the weight of non-rotating mass which is providing shaping of the hoop. Making the shape eccentric anologous to an orbital transfer trajectory between ground at the equator and GEO, provides the altitude linking path, and the support of non-rotating mass enables it to support the mass of tubing where it goes through the atmosphere preventing loss to atmospheric friction at the meteoric velocity of the hoop's rotation. And the point of it all, some of that excess upward momentum of the hoop, can be used by lightly dragging against it to pull spacecraft upward from the ground all the way to GEO and back, with out any fuel's mass carried onboard the spacecraft, thus making it extremely energy efficient as compared to conventional reaction engine propelled launch vehicles.
There are about as many details about these mechanisms and their variations and applications as one might want, if one searches around among these pages. But for now, lets just look as the basics before adding in the necessary interactive systems. Here is the progression, then this will be repeated below with addition of simple graphics grabbed from my other writings on the subject, placeholders for now until I can draw better ones here.
Let's look at a simple diagram, showing the conventional orbit of a mass around the earth in a circular orbit. Then lets make that mass into a continuous hoop that has all its parts in that circular orbit. Then spin that hoop twice the velocity it needs to be in that orbit, and use its excess outward velocity to support the weight of a non-rotating shell of equal mass (equal mass to the mass of the spinning part of the hoop) around the hoop. Then lets make the shape eccentric something like an orbital transfer trajectory from the earth's equator and the GEO orbit. Then lets have spacecraft drag lightly on the upwrd side of the hoop to lift them and their payloads up from the ground to GEO. Then use the spacecraft to lift the parts for building a few Solar Power Satellites in GEO: And use some of the SPS in GEO to beam electrical energy down to the ground to power the electromagnetic motor accelerators on the ground that keep the hoop rotating at the proper velocity. Then we build many more SPS up there in GEO and use them to provide clean abundant solar-sourced electrical power to all the nations around the world that buy it, recieved at rectenna platforms offshore or in deserts. With this particular kind of transportation capability in place, there are a lot of really interesting other projects we can build in GEO now, such as high spaceports for large planetary exploorations, mass-spectrometer solar powered total recycling plants for toxic swate materials back into clean useful materials again, and even large scale wheel-type cities in space, passively shielded by non-rotating reinforced water ice.
So let's consider the conventional orbit of a mass around the earth in a circular orbit, then make that mass into a continuous hoop that has all its parts in that circular orbit:
Then spin that hoop twice the velocity it needs to be in that orbit, and use its excess outward velocity to support the weight of a non-rotating shell of equal mass (equal mass to the mass of the spinning part of the hoop) around the hoop:
Then lets make the shape eccentric something like an orbital transfer trajectory from the earth's equator and the GEO orbit:
Then lets have spacecraft drag lightly on the upward side of the hoop to lift them and their payloads up from the ground to GEO:
Then use the spacecraft to lift the parts for building a few Solar Power Satellites in GEO:
And use some of the SPS in GEO to beam electrical energy down to the ground to power the electromagnetic motor accelerators on the ground that keep the hoop rotating at the proper velocity, #5 in next lower graphic:
Then we build many more SPS up there in GEO and use them to provide clean abundant solar-sourced electrical power to all the nations around the world that buy it, recieved at rectenna platforms offshore or in deserts, also # 5 in the next graphic:
With this particular kind of transportation capability in place, there are a lot of really interesting other projects we can build in GEO now, such as high spaceports for large planetary exploorations, mass-spectrometer solar powered total recycling plants for toxic swate materials back into clean useful materials again, and even large scale wheel-type cities in space, passively shielded by non-rotating reinforced water ice:
So there you have it. And if you would like to think about the raw idea of the outward centrifugal force of a rotating hoop maintaining a circular shape, explore the cowboy's lasso:
To get a feel for the basic hoop-support mechanism involved maybe you would like to review the principles behind the circular spinning rope called a "lasso":
Or for more details, check out these presentations I used at conferences: (Note: the way they work is that you need to use your mouse to click anywhere on the slide's graphic to get it to change to the next slide.)
"Kinetically Supported Bridge Vehicle Lift to GEO" Paper presented at the ASCE Space 2002 conference in Albuquerque, NM
"Carousel Spacecraft Electrical Lift Around the Earth Up to GEO" Presented at the Space Exploration 2005 conference in Albuquerque, NM in 2005:
"Energy Flow In Kinetically Strengthened Transportation Structure Systems to Space" ASCE Space 2004 "Energy Flow In Kinetically Strengthened Transportation Structure Systems to Space"
"Characteristics of Space escalator Carousels Vs Space Elevators" Presented at the Space Exploration 2005 conference in Albuquerque, NM in 2005:
"The Space Carousel's Unique Potentials" Presented at the Space Exploration 2005 conference in Albuquerque, NM in 2005:
Also see http://www.escalatorhi.com/carousel1.html for a brief technical paper on the subject.
And finally, I would like to thank the originators of some of the pieces of this concept, which came from concepts such as Keith Lofstrom's "The Launch Loop", Rod Hyde's "Starbridge", and Earl Smith's "Texas and Universe Railroad", not to mention all those who have contributed to electric motor design concepts over the eons.
The outward centrifugal stretch of a circular-elliptical spinning hoop forms the structural support basis of the KESTS and also the upward part of the circular motion also distributes electrically-sourced lift energy for payload traveling between ground and high earth orbit in GEO.
Exploring a potentially very energy efficient, high capacity, continuously operating transportation
to high earth orbit via Space Escalators
The problems to overcome and opportunities to enable: To overcome the severe limitations of rocket propelled access from the earth surface to high earth orbit (such as extremely low transportation energy efficiency - see WorkEnergy -, high waste of spacecraft components, high recurring costs, very low payload throughput, and waste of energy upon returning spacecraft back to earth), and to overcome the strength of materials limitations of tether space elevators, a different means for supporting a bridging structure's weight was developed. The projects that could meet many of today's needs are listed here: AppsGeo
The basic idea: Again, the outward centrifugal stretch of a circular-elliptical spinning hoop forms the structural support basis of the KESTS and also the upward part of the circular motion also distributes lift energy for payload traveling between ground and high earth orbit in GEO. The special ground-to-high-earth-orbit case of KESTS to GEO, is based on the idea of a spinning hoop, like a piece of rope tied into a loop and then spun, for example the cowboy's lariat lasso. The limp crumpled rope is transformed into a fairly rigid circle by the outward centrifugal force of the spin of its parts. In the case of the KESTS, the hoop of rope is spinning in a big elliptical loop with the center of the earth as one of the two axes and is spinning faster than orbital velocity at all points thus has excess outward centrifugal force to keep it taught and be able to provide support for external loads upon it. This is the type of concept which is most thoroughly explored in the technical and science fiction sections of this website.
A brief set of presentation slides used in 2005 can be seen here
(click somewhere on each slide to get it to change to next slide; and use browser "back" button to return to this page when done)
and see further below for a list of several more conference slide presentations on the KESTS to GEO or Carousel Space Escalator concept.
MySES2005Papers - My last effort to convey these concepts at a different technical conference group, which was more interested in space elevator (tether) concepts and in nuclear rocket concepts, than in the best ways to access GEO adequately; but I did my best anyway. Note that KESTS to GEO was originally conceived to overcome the limitations inherent in tether space elevator concepts.
See SES2005tripDia for the trip photos and some while at the conference.
MyAsceSpace2004paper - My last technical paper I prepared and presented at ASCE space conferences, this one was near Houston, Texas. ASCE2004Dia for the trip photostory and some photos while at the conference.
MyAsceSpace2002Paper Photo story of the next technical paper which I presented on the KESTS to GEO subject was at the ASCE 2002 space conference, also held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is perhaps my best published paper on the subject.
MYasceSpace2000paper My first accepted paper on the subject, published in ASCE's "Space 2000" conference proceedings. Finally success, after first telling the world via the GEnie network about the first basics of the concept in 1988, a dozen years earlier.
MyPaper1997SSI Here is the story of my first formal technical conference presentation on KESTS to GEO at the Space Studies Institute's 1997 space conference at Princeton, which was subsequently not published. My story about it, and the paper itself is available here.
Copyright © 2008 James E. D. Cline. Permission granted to reproduce providing inclusion of a link back to this site and acknowledgment of the author and concept designer James E. D. Cline.