Fresh overview look at KESTS to GEO

I have written a new overview for my website pet hobby technical project, one of those inspired moments of clearer vision. Here is the basic text:

Although the idea of creating large structures that are primarily supported by kinetic energy stored within them, few people are aware of it. So here are the basic principles, some specific kinds of structures the ideas could make possible, and some major kinds of applications that such structures could make possible for the benefit of civilization.

Structures typically provide connectivity across space, and usually support the mass of itself and its loads against the force of gravity. Conventionally structures use the strength of materials and material properties such as stiffness, to provide that connectivity across space and support of mass in a gravitational field, called "weight."

The strength of materials is largely derived from the energy bonds of the materials, down at the molecular level. In other words, it is energy that provides the strength and properties of structures as we normally use them.

So consider that energy can be stored on a larger scale within a structure, and that energy can be used to extend the distance that a structure can connect, and increase its ability to support the weight of itself and the loads it carries.

And these larger structures would be especially adept at providing transportation structures, since some of the stored kinetic energy could be tapped throughout the structure to move payloads around in the structure.

Mechanisms of kinetic energy exchange for structural support include:
1. Collision of one mass with another, imparting momentum exchange, such as in inflated structures like balloons and large spacecraft launch vehicle fuel tanks.
2. Drag of a slower moving body as it is grazed by a faster moving body, such as in the electrodynamic braking of a locomotive to slow it down.
3. A larger mass bending the trajectory of a smaller faster moving mass, imparting a radially outward force such as in a centrifuge.

A kind of structure that would be particularly adept at lifting payload back and forth between the earth's equatorial surface and high Earth orbit in GEO, is focussed upon here, along with the new potentials for civilization that could enable, given its wise use by mankind. This structure would primarily use that 3rd mechanism to support mass in the gravitational field of a planet such as Earth, and use the 2nd mechanism to provide fine positioning control and to lift payload along itself. It could use the 1st mechanism during some of the potential ways to erect seed structures into place.

The energy consumed within the structure during the processes of lifting payload from ground to space, and for the processes within the structure, would be mainly replenished by electromagnetic mass accelerators anchored on the earth surface, and electrically powered, and once the structure has enabled the construction of Solar Power Stations in GEO, the solar-sourced electrical energy beamed from them down to near that accelerator site could thereafter provide the energy to support the structure and lift payload between ground and space.

Like a windmill that converts wind kinetic energy into electricity, its specific configuration depends on its siting, size and connectivity to the system that will use its output energy. And it must be first designed, built and put in place, before it can produce those benefits to civilization, just like the windmill must be. Similarly it is designed and built to optimally match its intended uses.

A name for the space access transportation configuration focussed upon here is "Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure" whose acronym is "KESTS". As it would couple space between earth's equatorial ground and Geostationary Earth Orbit, GEO, the overall acronym is "KESTS to GEO". More colorful names used so far include "Space Carousel to GEO" and "Carousel Space Escalator to GEO," the carousel part alluding to the round-ish shape and its nature of circulating around along within its position.

The optimum configuration of such a structure would be established by its initial intended uses. In this case, the uses include enabling the construction and use of several large space projects in GEO:
1. Provide the world civilization with abundant pollution-free electrical power from Solar Power Satellites in GEO. These have been long envisioned as a way to provide abundant, CO2-free electric power that is derived from the intense 24/7 solar energy received up in GEO and delivered by beams to rectenna sites around the world, to all nations that want the clean electrical energy; yet there has not before been an economical way to get their construction materials into GEO.
2. Provide mechanisms for totally recycling the toxic industrial wastes produced by civilization's processes, and returning the materials back into use as pure raw materials. Huge solar-electric powered mass spectrometers built in GEO would separate out the elements, and transportation back and forth between ground and GEO would be provided by the KESTS continuously.
3. Vastly extend the capacity and range of reaction driven space vehicles, by using spaceport facilities built in GEO, and delivering the spacecraft components and fuel up to GEO along the KESTS. Since GEO is already 91% up out of Earth's gravitational well, and is far beyond the impeding earth atmosphere, the configuration of spacecraft could be optimized for enormous exploration and commerce applications plying between GEO and points around the Solar System. Particularly they could bring raw materials for more construction in GEO, moved there from the Lunar surface and asteroids by such large commercial spacecraft.
4. Test out the building and occupancy of cities in space, similar to the ones envisioned in detail back in the mid-1970's such as the passively shielded Stanford Torus mile-diameter rotating wheel that would provide home, agriculture and light industry for up to 10,000 people each. Water-sawdust ice could provide the non-rotating passive shielding for the rotating wheel shaped city within it. KESTS would provide economical commute between the ground and GEO, and provide the lift for construction materials for the first few such cities built there. Subsequent cities could be built largely from raw materials brought from the Lunar surface and asteroids, and eventually probably beyond. Such cities would be stationary in position high above the rotating Earth's equator, in GEO.

The energy transferred to payload by moving it up from the earth surface at the equator, up into GEO orbit, is only 7.15 KWh/lb, which at at an example production cost of electricity of 10 cents per KWh, is only $0.72 per pound lifted up to there, the economical usage of GEO begins to have these entirely new potentials, enabled by building KESTS to GEO.

Copyright © 2006 James E. D. Cline


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