More on energy and getting SPS into GEO

Energy is a relative thing, the difference between high pressure and lower pressure, the difference between hot and colder, between fast and slower. Energy is the ability to do work. Forces of the natural world that we harvest, harness to do our work for us; as we direct its changes from a higher form to a lower form, getting our task done along the way.

The creation of a windmill has much in common with creating Solar Power Satellites in GEO.

So for an analogous example, to convert wind energy we need to do all necessary to create a windmill at an appropriate location, and connect it to the electric power grid; anchored to the mass of the the earth, the windmill's blades drag against the fast moving air pathway, slowing the air a bit while converting that wind movement redirected to electrical energy increase.

It takes thought and energy and materials (and human physical activity) to create the windmill, and generally the amount of energy extracted and input to the power grid needs to be far more than the sum energy used to create the windmill there. To some extent this energy can be equated to monetary terms, but the complications of human involvements in the processes of creating the on-site windmill weigh heavily on those monetary descriptions.

The vast collections of ideas humanity has compiled thru history (each idea hard-won originally) is the instrument of thought that provides the patterns for human activity in the creation of the windmill or whatever the device contrived to get out work done by the forces of nature. Given somehow the unified activity of people sufficient to get the project going and done, more energy (and perhaps other involvement usefulness) needs be gotten out of the result, than is put into its original creation.

Thus the chemical fueled reaction engine propulsion for ground to space access technique we have used exclusively so far for space activity, the energy of fuel to lift from ground to GEO far exceeds the energy expectable from SPS in GEO, especially considering energy used to build the launch vehicle and infrastructure, as well as in the building of the parts for the SPS. This is why the mid-1970's approach of building SSPS at L5 (equidistant from the Moon and the Earth) out of lunar materials by people living in Stanford Torus type cities in L5, was conceived.

We were on a roll then, routinely landing Apollos on the lunar surface; those who foresaw our need for clean electrical abundant energy delivered worldwide by SPS built there, forgot that the reason we were landing on the Moon was not to prepare the way for civilization's future success through space resources, but instead to block a rival nation from building missile launch stations on the Moon, rivals who had attempted to do that in Cuba recently at the time, and next were aimed at getting to the Moon. When war threats were sufficiently prevented by our Apollo project, having won the "space race", Apollo dried up and so went the dreams of SPS built in L5 out of Lunar materials.

Three decades later, the energy crisis has overtaken us now, and we still struggle to find ways for chemical propelled rockets to be used (since that is a technology we know how to use well, and businesses are set up to do that abundantly) to put SPS into GEO, maybe gossamer-thin SPS lifted on big dumb rockets; or even build them on the Moon mostly out of Lunar materials, and beam energy at the Earth's rectenna power receivers from there: still trying to do it the old way, or so it seems.

Thoughts of other means for lifting up there have sloshed around in mankind's thinking mill, now more driven by the hungers of stomach and egos in the raised awareness we need clean energy more, and maybe it is getting serious?

Jeers at ideas of Earth-rotatated counterweight supported anchored tether space elevators made of "Unobtanium," have given way to consideration of carbon fiber derived tethers of constant stress cross-section, something to climb up and down upon; and if a high enough strength to mass ratio tether material is created, then true counterbalanced elevator car lift is conceivable, the tether ribbons slung between pulleys located at ground and above GEO.

Another kind of ground to GEO access structure is also conceivable, a structure that fully encircles the Earth and is whirling around the planet so fast that its outward centrifugal force counterbalances the weight of the parts of the structure that are not whirling. Its path would resemble an orbital transfer trajectory ellipse between earth surface on the equator, up around to a high point above the opposite side of the planet at GEO altitude. Some of the kinetic energy of that circulating high velocity mass stream that is moving upward, could be used via electrodynamic braking upward to lift the vehicles up the structure to GEO. All electric, this transportation technique could eventually be sustained by some of the SPS electrical power it enables built in GEO.

So, some potentially adequate techniques for lifting SPS constructions materials from ground to GEO exist in the thought base of civilization.

As to whether or not SPS get built there, depends on the comprehension that survival of America depends not on just keeping the rival's rocket nukes off the moon, but instead in the providing of environmentally clean adequate power to America and indeed the whole world, to throttle down the greenhouse gas bringing on cascade failure of the world environment. Will this comprehension exceed the inertia of industry and business? No sign of it happening so far. Even the potentials of the anchored tether space elevator and/or that of the carousel space escalator concepts represent aerospace corporations being aced out by the elevator/escalator concept becoming "the only game in town" thus is an unacceptable thing in the eyes of those who are rich and powerful enough to make these things happen: a "catch 22" kind of thing that probably is already too late to save the world ecosystem if the recent analysis by the scientist James Lovelock, originator of the term "Gaia", the world's unified living entity, is correct "(Lovelock: The Point of No Return is Behind Us.")

The shakers & movers of this nation did not take on the Apollo project to save civilization's future, they did it for self preservation from a human threat; and they still cannot conceive of threat to their supportive system as being of nature's needs for survival along with their own, thus nothing gets done to preserve civilization this way. We need to have multi-focused paths for survival, certainly, including the creation of ways to harness land-accessible forms of extracting solar-originated energy of wind and water and direct sunlight; and carefully of nuclear energy. The well being of general mankind may well be dependent on them getting those who have focused on personal power to find ways to make the fastest megabuck while lolling around in luxury unimaginable by most of us. Can we get their attention enough to be responsible to civilization, a somewhat different focus than making money and playing the ego power games?

Even the corporate kind of "entity" has the form of snobbery called the "NIH" (the "Not Invented Here" syndrome), that interferes with the wisest selection of ideas which pattern possibilities. Much of the managerial leadership is driven by climbing around in the org chart, the hierarchy of people, instead of technological arenas of energy and resources and human consumption, other than considering them as forces of motivation sources of their income and social delights.

It may come down to the old problem of how the people can get the bully mentalities which cleverly grabbed leadership over them, to pause enough from battle's excitements of board room and elsewhere, to much more responsibly lead them all into better survival and even plentifulness? It is likely that such people don't actually "see" the environment they crush, seeing only people as significant items in the world. Felling the opponent, rewarding the ally, and the goodies all default into the winner's hands. To get their assistance in saving the world, somehow the task needs be put into terms of which they can be aware. Put the task into terms of people, not in terms of the vaster natural world of which people are only parts, yet which make in aggregate such major impact.

Again, some potentially adequate techniques for lifting SPS constructions materials from ground to GEO already do exist in the thought base of civilization, and are ready for serious R&D. That is not the major problem.

by Jim Cline on 20060725


Civilization can go up, or likely will go down: Space Day 2006

Civilization must go up, or most likely it will go down. Are you in on this?

Sustainable living systems, including renewable energy sources and sustainable agricultural practices, are of high importance for R&D now. Yet for the long run, going up for vaster resources is likely the key for really long term sustainability of industrial civilization.

Reaction engine transportation needs to start and end its kind of journeys up high, such as in Geostationary Earth Orbit, instead of from the ground. The concepts and technological principles already exist for efficient ground to GEO electrically powered transportation, but the will of the corporations who could physically make it happen, have not the will to do it, instead being committed to stockholder quick profit while caring not if their actions do not make a place for the stockholder's children to live well... that is not on their shift, not their problem, they think.

The tendency of so many people to focus on strife to grab as much as possible, in aggregate has rapidly bent civilization into a downward curve, although headed upward until about half a decade ago.

My efforts to reverse this increasingly massive downturn continues, but the effort is about as likely as trying to stop the Lemming's excited race to the lethal cliffs over the seaside, to relieve the population to the small few sustainable by the as-found ecosystem. In fact, right now it seems as impossible for me to stop and get the herd to turn around to constructive usefulness, as much as if I were trying to stop a stampeding herd of wild elephants in the jungle. Yet the saying goes, "you gotta have a dream, for if you don't have a dream,, how ya gonna have a dream come true?.

So here in my Space Day 2006 blog entry, i intend to both explore the disruptive factors, as well as the positive potential technologies involved in the raising of civilization up, as an overall view in context with the circumstances found currently and in the past.

As for the disruptive factors, their descriptions fit better into analogs of the animal world, than of the rational intelligent loving beings that human beings are supposed to be, getting things done harmoniously together. The phenomenon of "crab potting" is one such descriptive analog. Crab potting is that if one is gathering crabs along the seashore for dinner, if you dig a hole in the sand and put one crab in the hole, the crab will quickly get out and escape. But if you put two crabs in that hole in the sand, they will prevent each other from escaping, and they will remain available for your dinner. There seems to be a lot of "crab potting" type thing going on which has been preventing us from quickly and efficiently getting civilization up. The details of how it expressed in hampering my efforts, and probably efforts of a few others too, involve egos of academic and industrial pomp protecting their turf, and use of setups and frameups for character assassination of someone they see as out of line and has seen too much and can't keep his mouth shut.

As for the technological principles that can get civilization to really expand up in an adequately large scale way, it starts with the wonderful rockets, so exciting and spectacular, with which we are familiar, like in Apollo and the Space Shuttle. They have enabled us to prove we can reach space and live there awhile, and do constructive work and research up there. Reaction engined launch vehicles, or rockets, also show us severe limits of their potential usage.

The use of reaction engine technology transportation ground to orbit has been long perfected, with multi-stage, strap-on boosters too, have shown the range of payloads manageable at a profit, and projects which orbit go beyond this limit won't get done.

Significant progress in reducing cost of launch, such as use of unmanned "big dumb boosters" is worthy of effort. Yet the basic problem of lifting the fuel for the trip, is a basic limiting factor for this kind of space access, and sets severe limits for the projects create-able up there to advance civilization, mere outposts at best.

The Solar Power Satellite is one such example, which was proposed in 1960's, and still not feasible to be put up using reaction engined launch technology. There has been some renewed thinking re gossamer-thin SPS, however.

Many other projects only possible in GEO are not amenable to the "gossamer-thin" technology construction, such as the passively shielded 10,000-person each Stanford Torus type self-sustaining cities in space, originally designed for construction at L5 out of Lunar materials, homes for those people building SPS; but also constructable in GEO if using passive shielding that is environmentally friendly such as wood fiber reinforced ice. They require truly large scale economical lift of materials ground to GEO; so, "thinking our of the box" (the "box" being reaction engined space access, in this case) the context is atmospheric resistive winds and weather, the energy and materials expended during the lift to 22,300 miles above the equator and give orbital velocity horizontal push there, for materials to stay put up there. The good news is that the actual energy given to mass lifted from ground to GEO is small, less than $1 of electrical energy per pound mass payload lifted into GEO. Lots of things can be done at anywhere near that figure, including SPS.

Although trips from ground to space up until now have been done using action-reaction engine propelled spacecraft's detailed intricacies, there are a couple of potential very different ways to get from ground to high earth orbit. It would be wise to evaluate and R&D them to the max at the present time, while also pursuing the other paths for mankind, especially the more environmentally friendly technologies as our basis if we remain chained to the ground on into the far future, as we are headed now, unfortunately.

Although I continue to dabble in the anchored tether space elevator conceptual design aspects which began (as so many others did too back then all independently) starting circa 1969 in my case, not quite the first. Lots of potential there, and widely different configurations highly dependent on the actual obtainable strength to mass ratio of the tether material.

However, in more recent years (1988 - on) I've focused on a technique that would avoid the need for superstrength tether materials and beamed or lifted energy sources for moving elevator cars up and down the tether.

Yet, to my amazement, intelligent people don't seem to grasp the "KESTS to GEO", or "Carousel Space Escalator to GEO" conceptual basics; they are fairly simple yet very un-ordinary. And that is the problem in communication of the concept, I think: it is un-ordinary.

Although I don't have nearly the mental abilities of people like O'Neill and Clarke, I do have much the same general overall visions; and I have persistence and integration skills, and much practical experience in making electronic gadget designs into reality that work on the physical level, into manufacturable products, while employed as an electronics engineering technician for decades in complex fields: a high competence in taking a design vision and making it work for real.

So let me again explain something that is un-ordinary, yet each part is simple. Let's start with the thought of a "hoop", the round thing that is the outer part of a wheel.

Actually several concentric hoops, sliding around the circumference of the overall hoop. And we will eventually make the hoop as an electric motor shaped as a hoop, with motionless stator and rotating armatures; but for now lets look at the dynamics of a hoop that is spinning, That spinning causes centrifugal force on the hoop, pressing its parts outward away from its center of rotation. We are going to use this principle of outward centrifugal force to balance an externally imposed inward force. Let's make that hoop be huge, say a hoop that fills an entire low earth orbital circumference above the earth's equator.

Sure, it's big; but not nearly so big as the length of all the beverage cans we make and use each year, which if put end to end would reach back and forth from ground to the moon and back several times, a far greater size.

Nonetheless, it is an un-ordinary visualization, a hoop that is so big it is larger than the planet's circumference of 24,000 miles. If the hoop is spinning at the orbital velocity at that altitude, all parts of it are "in orbit", staying there for now. Its outward centrifugal force just exactly balances the inward force of the earth's gravitational field on the mass of the hoop's parts. This is plain old normal orbital mechanics, except really a lot of orbiting objects all in the same path. it could have an enormous mass, yet would stay high above the earth, supported by its outward centrifugal force created by its rotation; and it rotates around the Earth. Is this agreeable to you, so far?

We next need to manipulate this concept for supporting mass above the earth, to ultimately become a transportation structure between ground and orbital altitude, preferably as high as Geostationary Earth orbit, stationary relative to the earth's surface in its 24 day's rotation. To make it a ground to GEO shape, change it for now from a circular orbit to an elliptical orbit which has its low point in contact with the earth's surface at the equator, and elliptically encircling the planet to reach to GEO above the far side of the earth.

The hoop is actually three hoop types sliding around closely together, remember. One hoop section is not rotating relative to the earth, and is solidly anchored into the earth somewhere along the equator, such as in a tunnel in the Ecuadorean Andes mountain range.

The second hoop is rotating far faster than orbital velocity, so the surplus outward centrifugal force balances the weight of the aforementioned stationary hoop with its loads; this speedy hoop needs be made of discontinuous parts as they exchange kinetic and potential energy as they rise and fall relative to the earth. And those discontinuous masses are in the form of armature segments with permanent magnets embedded, thus the armature of our hoop-shaped electric motor.

At the earth surface ground connection site (eg, that tunnel in Andes mountains) electrical energy from outward sources (for now) is used to accelerate the armature segments as they whizz past, restoring the kinetic energy that was used up in their trip around the planet-encircling hoop structure.

And the third "hoop" is also generally discontinuous, being the aggregate of the captive spacecraft being lifted by inductive drag against the high velocity upward bound armature segments, lifting the spacecraft up from the ground to GEO, where they discharge their payload, and take on new space-resource cargo for the gentle efficient return to the ground along the structure.

The stationary part of the hoop also provides a hard vacuum environment for the high velocity armature segments where the structure is within the atmosphere.

And the armature segments are in counter-rotating paired mass streams, laterally coupled through the stationary part of the structure, to balance some gyroscopic precession forces, and to provide upward bound armature mass streams everywhere along the structure.

The sliding hoops need to have a very slippery, low-loss sliding surface nature, thus a special variety of magnetic levitation track technology needs to be developed, one that works in a hard vacuum at tens of kilometers per second relative velocities; lots of potential for electromagnetic induction there going up as the cube of the velocity, usable for induced magnetic levitation principles.

The armature mass streams can be arranged around inside the stationary part of the hoop, and differential electrodynamic drag between the sides of the armature mass streams would provide a small bending force, usable for servopositioning in response to varying lateral loads including from atmospheric wind forces.

Hopefully this description gets the reader past the problem of the "un-ordinary" and give a glimpse of how such a transportation structure can extend between ground and GEO, supported by the kinetic energy stored within itself. If you are interested, many details have already been worked out and most are on my websites and in my papers published as part of ASCE space conference proceedings in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

And the things such a transportation structure can enable built in GEO are incredible, expanding civilization up there, and making efficient reaching out from GEO instead of the ground, to the materials resources of the solar system from there via reaction engined powered spacecraft, bringing back construction materials from the Moon and asteroids, for starters. Building Mars colonies would be a quite different adventure, and far more likely to succeed, with such a background, is another example.

Building many huge SPS in GEO could provide the environmentally friendly electric power delivered to nations around the world, beginning the reduction of CO2 greenhouse effect problems; giant solar powered mass-spectrometer type element separators in GEO could be total recycling for toxic idustrial waste products; Stanford Torus design inspired cities in GEO could be built and occupied by vast numbers of people in artificial gravity comfort.

Isn't this a better goal for humanity, instead of continuing the warring at each other for rights to dwindling resources of a world we have been surely killing? Sure, we know how to make war far better than know how to make these space structures; and making war is so exciting! That is, unless oneself is among the bystanders that get mangled while the behemoths are grappling.

Can we set aside the egos of academic and industrial pomp protecting their turf, and use of setups and frameups for character assassination of someone they see as out of place, and has seen too much and can't keep his mouth shut?

Actually, the creation and use of the Carousel Space Escalator and its enabled applications in GEO, is likely to provide excitement and adventure galore, if we give it a solid chance. And thus provide a much healthier world and civilization to pass on to our progeny.

And the upcoming problem of having enough assignable energy for huge manned spacecraft launches in a world starving for energy, gets avoided when SPS built in GEO beam down solar-derived electric power to the structure's ground accelerator site, thus ensuring continued access to space, regardless of the availability of conventional energy resources thereafter.

And, this is happening on our shift. Can we turn our vision away from the addiction to strife's glories of upsmanship, and instead settle down to responsible and equally exciting but far more comfortable life works, such as the vision described here? Civilization must go up, or most likely it will go down. Are you in on this?

Jim Cline


Civilization's relationship spectrum with nature

A spectrum of human civilization's relationship with the nature world ecosystem might be described as: predatory on (hunter-gatherer) - ignoring passerby - observing & describing - custodial husbandry of - nurturing rejuvenation of.

All these aspects seem to go on at various times and places. Sometimes the predatory aspect is rampant, where mankind just ravages the ecosystem locally to grab food and materials for survival, then of accumulation of wealth and power far beyond that of need for survival. This is ongoing without limit until bumping up against other people also claiming territory of predator-ship on nature, or limits from resource exhaustion.

At such times mankind's intelligence seems to switch from a cunning rip-off mode, to act more responsibly toward that which has become essential to existence. Individuals and small groups do these things somewhat unintelligently to the unified larger whole of the world ecosystem. The world of nature is as a passive participant in the relationship, whereas the world of humans is mostly as an aggressor in it. In the past, nature was not always so; Leopards were predator on humans for eons, as well as microbe parasites internally, as they still do at times. Wind and water still rage against mankind's structures at times, as done long ago, but wide rivers are now crossed by longer bridges, and oceans are crossed far overhead by passengers in aircraft.

As relationships can be also considered processes, life's processes include both inputs and outputs, not inputs alone. Byproducts and worn out discards do happen. In the past, the world of nature included humans, whose outputs were much like those of other animals, thus absorbed and used by other kinds of living creatures of the overall ecosystem, a total recycling process. Cities eventually created sewage collection and treatment systems needed to prevent excessive corruption of the local and distant ecosystem. Industrial processes, so very necessary to modern civilization's existence and processes, often produce byproducts that the rest of the world of nature cannot recycle in time frames of immediate interest; for examples, common glass bottles take 250,000 years to devitrify by the action of water on it; various radioactive byproducts take days to millennia to eons to drop to half quantity; and some toxic byproducts spread even at the bottom of the vast oceans to be eaten and passed up the food chain even reaching the top predators of the Arctic Polar Bears, who are now headed for extinction due to this inadvertent poisoning by mankind's industrial fouling of the world nest. The sudden ongoing warming of the planet is destroying the ice world the Polar Bears are part of, so their very underfoot support is crumbling from under them.

Mankind is also a top predator, and would do well to intelligently lean hard into the supportive direction of civilization and nurture the world of nature, lest become mere another top predator extinct, the supportive ecosystem no longer nurturing adequately having become toxic due to the wastes laced into it unconverted, as is happening to the Polar Bears.

How does a loose band of top predators unite to become efficient custodial supportive nurturers of the larger world of nature? Polar Bears were not smart enough to do it; are people?

Perhaps a way to deal with this problem is to bring in the world ecosystem into the mental frame of mind pervading the present thrust of business politics, by assigning "value" and "ownership" identities to the various aspects of the world ecosystem and its complex factors. Thus a healthier ecosystem would have a higher value than would a sick ecosystem in which resources falter and people die due to lack of provisions from an ecosystem that no longer can provide. And "ownership" of the world ecosystem being assigned to all members of that ecosystem, including individual people and corporate entities. Nations would "own" their territory and be responsible for its overall health long term.


Wearing signs of Amnesty, in Iraq and in ....

This is a knee-jerk response to ongoing news re Iraq's continuing struggles.

"Amnesty" is the technique now being tried, I read. Amidst replies of thresholding the amnesty, some get it others don't. I've an idea re how to do the amnesty.

Some religious viewpoints of ancient wisdoms recommend "forgive; but don't forget, until full recompense has been made." Or some variation thereof.

So, with that in mind, consider the hypothesis' of:
1) every person at every instant does the very best he/she can do, based on balance of all factors concerned, within the neurophysiology of the individual" and
2) every person doing "wrong" (as defined by others) believes he/she is fully justified in doing what is being done, and in fact has no choice but to do the action.
3) each person has a multiplicity of complex individually-consistent roles he/she plays, and the one called up is based on the perceived situation confronted at any moment.

Creatively fleshing out the amnesty thing with these things in mind, an amnesty might be done by having each person involved in any way, carry a sign that proclaims the "wrong" as perceived by others and also proclaims the factors the person was following when doing the "wrong" to others. For simple example "I (name 1) punched (name 2) in the nose, on (date) because I thought his nose was ugly, based on a neighbor boy punching me in the nose long ago while saying my nose was ugly." A next part of this carried sign might be "I am providing (identify speciic duty being done at times) in recompense for this action, until recompense is satisfied in agreement with (name 2)" An appropriately modified formatted sign would also be carried around by the person who was punched in the nose, specifying his/her part in the involvement.

Such signs could be carried by, say, "insurgents" and in fact by all who did violence of any kind whatsoever in the overall fracas. Surely every one of them believes he/she was in the right in each instance. Yet the carrying of the "sign" would be a sign of amnesty, and the wearer would be protected from retaliation; if any did an asault on the "wrongdoer" carrying the admission of the action along with belief that "justified" it, and promise to no more do that kind of thing... the retaliator would then be the recipient of an appropriate amnesty sign along with the recompense duty committment.

Part of this would be an effective apology to those wronged, face to face at times. At the same time, the sign would speak of the belief from which the wrongdoer acted in the case, available for some understanding by those wronged in the event.

Among civilized folk this seems like it might work, but what happens in the case of those who have an oversized helping of "bully" in their makeup? Such a sign might read "I (name 1) beat up (name 2) because I believe I am stronger; therefore I deserve to have all the goodies and mates that (name 2) would have had." It is the recompense duty part: to have amnesty, (name 2) must continue to do (appropriate activity) until recompense has been completely fulfilled.

Any "wrongdoer" not protected under such offered amnesty, would be identified as a dysfunctional-assaulter expected to continue to similarly dysfunction, beware all who encounter that one.

Well, that is the knee-jerk idea. I can see potential problems, such as that frame-ups and set-ups that make it look like an innocent person is a wrongdoer, and thus would not know of the wrongdoing and required amnesty duties involved, thus society would be brought down to assault the innocent, as targeted by clever ones.

Such problems appear to be done even today, using the private security video monitoring of stores by centralized guard systems, effectively branding that innocent person every time he/she attempts to buy or sell something in the marketplace. Those in the know involved in the underground national privateer business security networks clearly can easily arrange a fake event play or two, thereby branding the innocent target person evermore as if a wrongdoer to be mistrusted, making life extremely dificult for the target. I doubt the "security" personnel (and probably actual law enforcement personnel sometimes too) care at all that they are thereby doing the dirty work for somebody. Indeed, it might not actually be illegal to "frame up" a person so as to force the target person to endure the various kinds of group assault & restraint activities society uses.

Perhaps safeguards and legal checkpoints for verification including cognizant involvement of the accused, could repair such misuse of the systems which were supposedly for the protection of businesses and people.

If so, the expansion of the "forgive, but not forget until..." tool of amnesty seems something worth exploring by others as well as myself. A way out of the "tit for tat" endless strife. The world might have a chance for survival, after all, if in time.

And, I wonder, who would have been capable to have gotten the "Hatfields and McCoys" to adopt such a process?

by Jim Cline on 20060701 and revised on 20060704.