What happened to the dream
"We have put men on the Moon. Can people live in space? Can permanent communities be built and inhabited off the Earth? Not long ago these questions would have been dismissed as science fiction, as fantasy or, at best as the wishful thinking of men ahead of their times. Now they are asked seriously not only out of human curiosity, but also because circumstances of the times stimulate the thought that space colonization offers large potential benefits and hopes to an increasingly enclosed and circumscribed humanity.
"Permanent communities can be built and inhabited off the Earth. The following chapters present a detailed description of a system for the colonization of space. It is not the best system that can be devised; nor is it complete. Not all the important questions about how and why to colonize space have been posed. Of those that have, not all have been answered satisfactorily. Nevertheless, the 10-week summer study is the most thorough and comprehensive one made to date. On its basis space colonization appears to be technically feasible, while the obstacles to further expansion of human frontiers in this way are principally philosophical, political, and social rather than technological.
"The focus of the system is a space habitat where 10,000 people work, raise families, and live out normal human lives. Figure 1-1. [ http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/75SummerStudy/figure1.1.gif ] shows the wheel-like structure in which they live. This structure orbits the Earth in the same orbit as the Moon in a stable position that is equidistant from both Earth and Moon. This is called the Lagrangian libration point, L5. The habitat consists of a tube 130 m (427 ft) in diametral cross section bent into a wheel 1790 m (over 1 mi) in diameter. The people live in the ring-shaped tube which is connected by six large access routes (spokes) to a central hub where incoming spacecraft dock. These spokes are 15 m (48 ft) in diameter and provide entry and exit to the living and agricultural areas in the tubular region. To simulate Earth's normal gravity the entire habitat rotates at one revolution per minute about the central hub.
"Much of the interior of the habitat is illuminated with natural sunshine. The Sun's rays in space are deflected by a large stationary mirror suspended directly over the hub. This mirror is inclined at 45 degrees to the axis of rotation and directs the light onto another set of mirrors which, in turn, reflect it into the interior of the habitat's tube through a set of louvered mirrors designed to admit light to the colony while acting as a baffle to stop cosmic radiation. With the help of abundant natural sunshine and controlled agriculture, the colonists are able to raise enough food for themselves on only 63 ha (156 acres). The large paddle-like structure below the hub is a radiator by which waste heat is carried away from the habitat.
"Abundant solar energy and large amounts of matter from the Moon are keys to successfully establishing a community in space. Not only does the sunshine foster agriculture of unusual productivity, but also it provides energy for industries needed by the colony. Using solar energy to generate electricity and to power solar furnaces the colonists refine aluminum, titanium, and silicon from lunar ores shipped inexpensively into space. With these materials they are able to manufacture satellite solar power stations and new colonies. The power stations are placed in orbit around the Earth to which they deliver copious and valuable electrical energy. The economic value of these power stations will go far to justify the existence of the colony and the construction of more colonies...."
The document from which this is quoted was created some 35 years ago, titled NASA SP-413. (Its soft copy can be found at
What happened to this dream, created just a couple of years after the last of the Apollo moon adventures had left the Moon? NASA seems obsessed with just using rocketry to put things into space, perhaps because that is what they are familiar with, and is what their current adventures rely upon. Even their sponsorship of space elevator concerns seems just to prove how hard and inefficient that could be, such as the contests for climbing up a tether they have suspended from cranes or helicopters, contests to beam high powered lasers to supply energy for climbers up the dangling tether; but that is not the best way for a space elevator to work. But it does spin our wheels - thus preventing forward motion - regarding any effort in that direction, thus excusing continued total reliance on rocketry, nice familiar rocketry - maybe even forcing nuclear powered launch vehicle rocketry efforts again, who knows, instead of just interplanetary nuclear rocketry efforts.
And righteous disdain for tether space elevators or space hoop escalator concepts, which do have the potential for truly economical large scale movement of construction materials into nearby space, such as for the building of the above-described kind of space colony which they had dreamed of back in 1975, although built in GEO and shielded with ice mass brought up with the very cheap electrical lift from the Earth's surface.
Anyway, when NASA was born it had the mandate to get to the Moon before the Soviets to prevent the Soviets from putting nuke-armed missiles there aimed at America, like so recently (at the time) they had started to do in Cuba, too terrifyingly freshly in mind to say no to the daring and very expensive project. Go for the Moon, at any cost, just do it. And amazingly, NASA managed to do it, and then got out of the game before they lost a vehicle, like almost happened in Apollo 13. That was the cause of us putting men on the Moon for brief times, not the urge to adventure or explore other planets or find sources of raw materials on the Moon. Then the soviets said "OK you win, I give up on that one" and then so did we, game over, we won; back to the burgers and TV sports.
But lots of us continued on in our imagination, space was a place and it had enormous potential for helping mankind's civilization, such as the high capacity solar-derived energy systems called "Solar Power Satellites" which were conceived in basic principle way back in the 1960's.
No, it was not with the purpose of enabling a clean energy powered vigorously expanding civilization, that we went to the Moon and jump-started the space program; it was war fears that got the money coughed up by we Americans. Most of the people and corporations who actually did the stuff to make the Apollo and Space Shuttle happen, would still most likely prefer to sit on the couch with their beer & chips watching football on TV than to do that kind of thing; even now, I think. Resting on ones laurels is indeed tempting.
When someone like me attempts to rattle their cage, me babbling something about making a hoop-configured electrical motor encircling the earth, in an orbital-transfer-trajectory-like shape from the equatorial earth surface, which uses its internal kinetics to support its own mass and that of captive spacecraft the motor would lift up and down itself eccentrically from the equatorial ground up to geostationary earth orbit, where a new level of civilization could thereby be built - and could have been started back in 1988 when I first pointed out that potential, and would most likely have operational systems already working to put solar power plant construction materials in GEO. But it is far easier to sneer and ignore such babble by an "unknown" apparently attempting to horn in their well-earned prosperous peerdom, from their highly esteemed positions of influence. Now, back to their couch and the football, an easier exciting game for them.
And similarly it is easier for me to glower at being left in their pompous dust, than to much about it either. While time is delayed ever making it harder to do anything except by rocket, anything else getting likely to eventually be chopped through by something orbiting below GEO, and the more things put there, the harder it will be to but up the truly efficient space transportation structures so things can be bult up in GEO and further rocket launches be made from up there, already 91% up out of Earth's gravitational well from the start, and beyond the atmosphere's drag.
Surely that would be a prime goal for an agency which had the purpose of managing the expansion of civilization into space to help the earth and its incredible precious living systems.
Thus the logical conclusion is, that that is not what that agency considers its purpose to be. It was born of war fears, and apparently continues mostly to keep the technology alive to stay in the game in case rival nations once again go for nuke platforms on the Moon, Mars moons or elsewhere, period. That kept under control, back to the couch and TV sports, job done.
Well, I too can do that kind of thing. But first I put the space colony, space elevator and hoop space escalator designs to the tune of science fiction adventures, and put them in paperback form at minimum cost, and made them free for all for download on the internet, such as one at smashwords download site "Its Down To Earth" by J E D Cline https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/2459 (which has had over 700 downloads) and "Building Up" at scribd http://www.scribd.com/doc/14776925/Building-Up Thereby I get to live out the doing of the dreams I had for helping NASA and humanity, albeit only in virtual reality, which is slightly better than nothing. It expands the dream a bit.
Well, also I have been putting the concepts out for all to see, even from the beginning in 1988 on the GEnie computer network, then on the internet on my www.home.earthlink.net/~jedcline pages starting in 1996, and more recently on dedicated websites www.kestsgeo.com and www.escalatorhi.com; but, few if any find them and comment back to me. I also endured the writing, camera ready preparation, travel, and formal presentation of some eight technical papers at space conferences, all at my own out-of-pocket expense, telling of these concepts (such as http://www.scribd.com/doc/14090773/The-Space-Escalators-Unique-Potentials and presentations http://www.scribd.com/doc/14091289/efikestspps7n and http://www.escalatorhi.com/techscifi/tupsec_j.swf ), and calculations http://www.scribd.com/doc/14093583/Energy-Given-to-Mass-By-Lifting-From-Ground-Up-Into-GEO to space folks that only considered them rival to their own bread & butter space concepts, their own cherished laboriously created dreams; although most were corporate ventures.
Anyway, I did my best to show them what might could be some even better dreams for them to have too. Naive me, thinking that a more rewarding dream to actualize, could attract them away from what was their games, their very own thing - understandably. ("A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" it is said. Even if that bird in the hand simply cannot do the job nearly enough adequately, it is something they have got.)
Although sometimes I again briefly wake up enough to wonder, what happened to the dream.