Looking back across 10 years of space efforts

Recently I ran across a file I wrote in 1995, ten years ago; written when I had just gotten my first formal advanced space technology technical paper presented and published, and was optimistically readying to go on to similarly communicate to the world re my kinetic structure space transportation concepts.

I copy the file below, and then address the issue of what caused the apathy evident in the lack of change, as of ten years later.

Rough Draft of Abstract, 500 words max
950813 JEDCline

"Segmental Wet-Launch of a Prefab Toroidal Space Habitat: Toward an Aggressive Space Colonization Option for the Near Future"

by James Edward David Cline e-mail: Independent Researcher

The possibility of building a true, fully functional space settlement in the near future is improved if there is a way to build it cheaply, safely, and with the potential of being an obviously significant step toward solving many of humanity's impending problems. Such a way is found by backtracking over technological ground which was bypassed in the heat of the race to a different goal, and re-assembling the technological building blocks toward the subject goal.

The proving-out of the long accepted concept of a nearly self-sufficient, nearly earth-normal interior space habitat is a necessary milestone toward large-scale expansion of human civilization off-planet; three such scenarios are itemized below.

A one-centrepetal-g-interior rotating toroid of 1 mile diameter, research home for 1,000 people, could be built of segments consisting of pre-assembled modules each 100 feet long and 30 feet in diameter. Before launch of the modular prefab segments, the entire set of segments would be tested linked in the toroidal configuration while yet on the ground to initially optimize the myriad interacting systems of electromechanical and living natures. Through designing each as a pre-assembled habitat module which serves as its own fuel tank during launch, most of the airframe and tankage penalty is eliminated. The engines used during the launch of the module could be built into just enough airframe to glide them back to the launch site after each module's launch; the flight and docking would all be teleoperated from the ground. A strap-on airbreathing booster module would also return after each launch. These prefabricated segments could be emplaced on site in LEO docked end-to-end in the spoked wheel configuration, thusly built prior to the arrival of the first human presence there so as to greatly lower cost and increase safety.

Three forms of large-scale potential near-future space colonization include
(1) the original L4 and L5 locations of habitats built largely of lunar materials, requiring a strong lunar infrastructure first;
(2) conversion of near-earth asteroid material into space habitats aggregating in internal area equal to 1,000 times that of the Earth's surface, needs to be done by highly sophisticated robotics or by human presence at high initial risk; and
(3) a scenario utilizing active kinetic structures continuously linking surface equatorial sites with the synchronous Clarke Belt, where millions of the subject space settlements could be built, housing tens of billions of people with their agriculture and light industry, including any or all of the present surface population.

All of these scenarios hinge on the functionality of the near-earth-normal-interior space habitat concept, provable by this project."

And now I will address the question of what went wrong, since no action has been taken in these past ten years. In fact, the problem is worse, for I had put the germ of the idea up on the GEnie library for the world to see, back in 1988, and the world did not take that map to the gold and go for it.

What went wrong? As seen by my naive Asperger's Syndrome socially handicapped viewpoint, that is; the rest of the world probably does not think anything went wrong.

In a few words: there were communication limits, business limits, and ego limits. They were all interrelated; but attempting to separate them out and expanding a bit on each:

1) Communication limits:
Frustration with difficulty in communicating my concepts has always existed. In 1972 I tried to get NASA interest in my Mooncable concept (an anchored tether space elevator operating from the surface of the Moon through L1 toward the earth, made of space-rated fiberglass in a constant stress crossection configuration) by forwarding it through the NASA patent counsel at JPL, where I was then working as a contract technician, resulted in a polite letter basically saying they were being strangled for funds, and had their plans already set for the future (Apollo about to end, and Space Shuttle was the future), thanks and go away. When the GEnie computer network, with its Space and Science Library available for all to upload to, represented a way, I thought, to finally get the world to hear my concepts, which should be self-evidently useful. Wrong. Few noticed, fewer commented, and they were irritated, back there in the late 1980's. More years passed, I had picked myself up and dusted myself off once again, and decided to attempt to get formal technical papers on my concepts published in relevant publications; space technology conferences were beginning to open up to "everybody", so that effort was focused upon from 1994 to 2005, along with my website information about some of my space technology related concepts, starting with my ISP-provided web pages on starting in 1996; and now is on my domain All this required that I learn to prepare camera-ready copy for conference proceedings publications, write HTML for web pages, make technical drawings on the computer, etc.

2) Business limits: apparently, business is a great game to play. Maybe the mindset was set as children playing Monopoly type games. And so Business became focused on making money the fastest easiest and sometimes flamboyant ways the players could manage. The wider consequences of their game playing was not part of that consciousness; they had no responsibility to the flow of civilization, nor of the changes to the world resulting from the game playing. Technology and its concepts were merely turf to be romped upon, grabbed and held as pawns and territory. Aerospace business is no exception; and when the KESTS to GEO concept wafted into the game players' awareness to some extent, no doubt it first looked unorthodox, then when examined seriously, it would have been seen to soon put an end to all business based on rocket launchers operating from the earth surface (except those used for military activities re the neighbors on this planet.) Sure, there would be even greater business opportunities for rocket propelled vehicles operating from spaceports high in GEO (which is currently mostly used for communications satellites), but such changes in the business game must be controlled by the game players, it was mere turf to be played upon, and it was their turf, not mine, to be played upon. The Business game players played on as usual, reaping the rewards.

3) Ego limits: To my Asperger viewpoint, the "normal" world is full of people who have created a huge heirarchy, established by their lifetimes of one-upping each other, endlessly repeating. The higher ones on that pyramid are the Elite of many arenas. Who can even talk to whom, is largely controlled by status in that hierarchy. The upper Elite make the decisions as to what goes for making change to the system. The record of competency of each member of the Elite largely establishes their position in the elite. In the Intellectual Elite, one has to have the record of vast knowledge of everything in one's field; proof of one-upping the vast majority. So when someone who is not a member of the Intellectual Elite attempts to speak up with implication (as seen by the Elitist ego) that the Intellectual Elite had missed something hugely important, that they had dropped the ball, the intruder get treated first by ignoring, then by spreading nasty rumors quietly to the effect that the intruder is out of place, can't follow the rules, therefore must have stolen the concepts from someone who was really one of the Elite, etc. The man must be a pervert, who knows what other awful things, keep him away from women and children. (And that way few will have the chance to really remember what he really was saying.) Snub the person, hide what the person is trying to tell the world. The Elite are the owners of all opportunity to make change in the world, and this principle must be preserved. To have a non-Elite person appear to one-up them would be humiliating, degrade their competancy status, or so it is likely seem to the ego. That the flow of science and technology is largely controlled by business interests, and not by awareness of the vastly wider world, means lots of paths did not get followed, lots of stones did not get looked under. But the Elite must make the belief to the rest of the world of people, that they know all, do all, and thus have the rights to have and control all.

In summary, I think it was mainly caused by the business and governmental system, in which the corporations and managers who could have made my concepts into physical reality, were quite busy doing something else, and they considered me and my concepts out of line.

Every future moment starts in each present moment. Do we learn from mistakes and successes of the past, or do we muscle forward as we have been going?

In the KESTS to GEO concept (AKA "Escalator Carousel to GEO") humanity has the opportunity to methodically and quickly extend civilization into nearby space, and then soon take the crushing worst weight off the world's ecosystem that has enabled our life so far. Dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest modes won't hack it. The KESTS to GEO project would be an immense effort that, for success instead of eventual disaster, has to be done wholeheartedly by a humanity that intelligently and lovingly guides its own future, ever into better paths for all. My naive Asperger self still believes that this can happen, if humanity would just snap out of it, and get on the ball. The Game can get an awful lot better, and surely more fun for all... but (sigh) they don't want to play my kind of game; they are boss, see, they prove it....


An idea for safer passive shielding in GEO

Although this is better done on my website, one never knows what problems comes, so until I get my website to reflect this added material, here it is:

One of the worries of building rings of rotating space settlements (like the Stanford Torus of 1976 design) built in GEO (enabled by high volume cheap ground-GEO KESTS electrically powered lift transportation, if people decide to do that) is that in the distant future, the earth-encircling rings of space settlements might slow down and collapse into the atmosphere, causing much atmospheric dust, among other debris impact problems.

Although the KESTS is likely to be able to couple earth-surface referenced thrust to the ring where it contacts KESTS, and mass launchers ought to be able to continue to keep speed up elsewhere around the GEO habitat ring. But times are not always fine, and conceivably a time of civilization decay might happen eventually, another Dark Ages. And the orbital velocity maintenance mass launchers not be kept working, for example, and orbital degradation eventually collapses the orbiting ring and down they come. (One might remember the fairy tale of Chicken Little's "the sky is falling").

Presumably the shielding would still be passive, that is, each mile-diameter rotating toroid forming each 10,000-person city, would be surrounded by a non-rotating shield equivalent to a 2 meter thick layer of dirt. It is mostly this material that would likely dust the planet's atmosphere, be environmentally catastrophic, in that hypothetical far eon distant time.

So, here is my idea for dealing with this problem: Back in WW era, there was a plan to pour sawdust in a North Atlantic coastal bay, let it freeze in winter, then saw it out so as to make a floating aircraft landing strip to be moved out into mid-atlantic, the tensile strength of the sawdust fibre combined with the compressive strength of water ice, providing the strength needed for a long landing strip within Atlantic waves. Add remember that comets passing by are mostly water ice, in the hard vacuum of space. So, put the two things together: build the passive shields for the GEO space cities out of water mixed with sawdust, frozen in place as the shields, about 6 meters thick. So if it all comes down, it just makes rain with some sawdust in it. Thus that environmental dust catastrophic part of the collapse scenario could be averted, it seems to me.

And there may be ways to design the huge city internal structure so as to minimize impact along the equator, but that is another subject.

If we create KESTS to GEO correctly, it will be built as a continually rebuilt thing, like the human body; and with civilization remaining in function, if there were no way to keep the speed up for the ring of GEO space habitats, they could be taken apart and brought back down via the KESTS, bit by bit.

But we also have to plan for things not always working fine.

20051010 Jim Cline

P S: Note that the abovementioned cities in GEO are part of an advanced scenario providing a lot of fine real estate for civilization, and is intended to show the opportunities for mankind instead of the current consuming of rainforests etc. The hope was that with knowledge of possibilites for the near future (20 year range) people could prepare to restore the planet's ecosystems by preserving species etc, knowing the pressure would be off their environment eventually. The ring of cities in GEO as described in the KESTS to GEO concept, would be built only after the sequence of building KESTS (or "Carousel Space Escalators") for direct efficient electrically powered continuous transportation between ground (initially at equatorial sites) and GEO, where things stay put once lifted there along the KESTS, first Solar Power Satellites would be built, Total Recycling plants in GEO (Mass-Spectrometer archetype), all spacecr4aft launches moved up to GEO for high efficiency transport from GEO to the Moon, asteroids, etc thus enabling large scale lunar infrastructure, the materials could be provided for the construction of the basic structure of the cities in GEO.

This concept was basically made and publicized some 15 years ago, yet was ignored, suppressed, and thus not formally published in technical paper form until 2000 (then by ASCE); and since then, we have gone extremely in the opposite direction. Thus the info here and on is not likely to be done in the time frame in which it needed to be done (caused by complications of politics), but the info may still be of use in the more distant future. Sorry about that; I did my best to help you, and in the proper time frame.
J E D Cline 20051013