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


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