Continuing engineering failure analysis of social systems re technology

(Continued from )

So far, the failure analysis of the social systems needed to establish early space colonization for humanity, have brought up factors of lack of congressional funding; judging the originator's credentials instead of judging the concepts themselves; lack of peer-membership with the potential evaluators; interference with existing business investments and career planning; unfamiliar technology to the evaluators; and the business choices of going for easy profit instead of the vision of early space colonization.

The 1972 Lunar space elevator concept, called the Mooncable, brought up those factors, as mentioned in the referenced post which is part of this overall message.

The next concept utilized for this failure analysis of needed social systems, relates to the the "KESTS to GEO" concept. So the last part of the preceding post is repeated here, as it is part of the description of what was tried and how failure was the result.

The second example for this kind of overall system failure analysis, is my effort to gain interest in my concept for rapid expansion into high Earth orbit, initially with the purpose of building abundant Solar Power Satellites to provide plentiful clean energy to nations around the world. This concept would bypass the Space Elevator's severe limitations, yet be able to do the same efficient access to high earth orbit, probably even more capably too. It would use the outward force of internal centrifugal force to balance the weight of the structure in the planetary gravitational field, instead of utilizing strength of materials to do the job.

I created this "KESTS to GEO" concept - acronym for "Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure to Geostationary Earth Orbit" - to bypass the problem with the Earth Space Elevator concept, that of the lack of a material strong enough for its mass to support its own weight between GEO and the ground. I was keenly aware of this problem, having thought of the earth space elevator idea in 1969 - not the first person to do so, it turned out - then realized that the tensile strength to density ratio problem that really made a problem for the concept. (However, that effort later enabled my 1971-1972 creation of the Mooncable concept.) So I constantly sought other ways to have large scale access of earth orbital space.

The early 1980's concepts of Keith Lofstrom's Launch Loop rocket lift to the fringes of the atmosphere by a trapezoid shaped tethered out-flung loop of continuous material, and Rod Hyde's "StarBridge" vertical tower to the fringes of the atmosphere, supported by electrodynamic drag of high velocity paramagnetic beryllium disks flung upward inside the structure, excited my hopes for early large scale space colonization in my time; even Earl Smiths' "Texas and Universe Railroad" concept of an out-flung expandable iron belt from the earth surface to GEO, although had some major flaws in it including that it would not go to GEO if anchored in the high latitude of Texas, got me to do my first speech supporting those concepts, as well as my Mooncable space elevator concept, to the National Commission on Space in 1985. But to no avail, the Commission's report did not mention any of these things.

I mulled over the why-nots for a few years, discovering the major faults within each of those systems, and finally figured out how to combine all those concepts and add some new components, to make what appeared a workable large scale ground-to-GEO access space transportation structure of high efficiency, supported by the outward force of high velocity armatures circulating throughout the quasi-elliptical hoop around the Earth, connecting the equatorial surface to GEO. The materials and technology were well within the contemporary capability.

But the problem remained, of how I, as still an unknown in the field, could get this concept into the awareness of those who could take it to the next steps. About that time, I had gotten connected to the GEnie Spaceport Library, via my 300 baud modem connected to my long-obsolete Adam Coleco computer; as always, I lived on the edge of poverty, earning a living as an engineering technician in electronics; I worked for a small car alarm manufacturer at the time. Finally I could get the attention to my Mooncable concept and my new KESTS to GEO concept, I thought, through the GEnie network, connecting with other space enthusiasts involved with technology.

Even the GEnie Network was sponsored by General Electric, a large company who could possibly be able to build much of the KESTS to GEO system, I thought. I posted the initial insights there in 1988, and had largely fleshed it out in 1989, posting many files in the GEnie Spaceport Library.

But the reaction I got as a result was lots of angry replies, not involving technology, but bringing up other issues that readers would have to wade through before getting to the technical parts of the chat strings back then.

It took me a long time to realize that the KESTS to GEO concept would obsolete the ground rocket launch vehicle industry, on which these folks based their futures. No wonder the anger.

But clearly they were only interested in their personal fortunes, not the vision of large scale economical access and utilization of high earth orbit, and the large scale access of the Lunar environment and Mars' moons and asteroids, all now potentially in the near future, instead of something that would only have to withstand the test of real physical construction and usage generations later, as were the other forms of space colonization views as based on rocket systems alone.

A general pattern seems to be forming as I write here: the wideness of the vision of the evaluator, controls the trend of the resulting decision. If the evaluator was not fitting the concept into the wide vision of extending humanity into space colonies, then the criteria would be based on such things as the concept's potential effects on the evaluator's career, the corporate business potentials, the disruption to existing personal investments such as into petrochemical energy sources so as to gain personal wealth that way, effect on esteem from non-peer level concept offerings, and potential effects on international interactions. Thus what seems to be a failure of social systems, is simply reduced to success at supporting continuance of other considerations. Not looking to early space colonization, why disrupt existing plans for enabling that to happen.

In the KESTS to GEO enabled SPS case, done by the pointing out of the essential nature of large scale worldwide energy sources that are not primarily based on burning of petrochemicals in the air, simply stimulated efforts to create "green" energy sources and transportation systems, from existing technologies of wind, photovoltaics, wave energy, nuclear, and geothermal energy sources; maintaining the hydroelectric dams, and electric cars.

Such a diversity of energy sources is important for a resilient energy supply. Yet since these "green" energy sources are not producing more than a small fraction of the nation's energy needs; we have to burn coal aplenty to provide the vast majority of our daily energy usage.

The concept of building Solar Power Satellites in GEO, adequate to supply the vast majority of civilization's energy needs on into the future, enabled by building the KESTS to GEO transportation structure from ground up to GEO, is still being intensely avoided even now in 2011, some 22 years since the concept was fairly fleshed out in 1989, and long enough to have developed working structures built between equatorial ground and GEO by now, and a few prototype Solar Power Satellites of operational capacity already built and being used to supply all the energy the transportation structure system needs itself, as well as supplying gigawatts of energy to the power grid.

While the failure to implement this is a failure to be able to provide plentiful non-petrochemical energy for civilization along with large scale space colonization in GEO and on the Moon, it is not a social failure in the sense that it enable continuance of business-as-usual, in the comfort zone of those who make things happen. And, there are fewer big goofs made, when people stick to the familiar; never-mind the lack of preparation for the needs of the future of civilization. There is also the social quirk that people generate far more emotional energy when things fail as they do when things work fine; witness the major agony over the crash of the Challenger, yet no comparable rejoicing across the nation in the many successful flights that the Challenger Space Shuttle made before that. Goofs cost the doer far more than successes are rewarding to the doer, in other words. Risk not taken, means not risking condemnation due to failure.

But, this is analogous to when a man fails to approach a woman in hopes of courting her, for fear of rejection by her. No loving has a chance of happening. In this case, we not only have no chance of life preservation diversification via space colonies, but also we are stuck with our planetary oxygen being converted into unbreathable carbon dioxide, in order to have electrical energy lightening our homes, and our massive cars get pushed around in the commute each day.

So let's look in more detail as to how the KESTS to GEO concept was shot down, and why. Each factor can be a factor in extrapolating what will happen in subsequent efforts to revive the concept, as well as in new forms of space access and utilization concepts.

The initial efforts to gain awareness and interest in the KESTS to GEO concept are described above, utilizing the GEnie Information Network.

Other avenues were also explored, however. A visionary article on the concept was published in a non-technical magazine called "Meditation Magazine" in 1990. A talk was given to the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Society of System Scientists, on the subject of KESTS to GEO in 1994. A description was given as part of a RAND study seeking new space systems concepts. The early vision of KESTS to GEO envisioned its high energy efficiency, high capacity continuous operation between ground and GEO, to enable a couple of prototype space colonies in GEO, modeled after the Stanford Torus 10,000 person space settlement design of 1975, originally intended for construction in the distant future at L-5 built out of Lunar materials; but KESTS to GEO would enable them built in GEO without first creating a huge Lunar infrastructure. So it was also proposed to build a classical wheel-type space station in LEO, totally built teleoperated until assembled in LEO, before the first manned presence would be needed there; this concept was called "Centristation"and would be a 100-200-person R&D habitat to work out many of the interactions of a near-self-sustaining 1-g environment in actual space conditions. The wheel structure would first be built on the ground and debugged there as much as possible; each of the component modules would be designed and built for use as their own fuel tank during launch. Thus it was titled "Wet launch of Prefab habitat Modules" when I presented a peer-reviewed technical paper on the Centristation concept to the Space Studies Institute at Princeton, NJ, in 1995.

May I mention the factors that this was my first attendance to such a space conference and knew little about doing such a thing; I was still very nervous about public speaking, having only done the one testimony to the NCS in 1985 as mentioned before; and that in my impoverished state - employed as an electronics technician at a car alarm manufacturing company at the time - all I had was a 386SX computer running DOS at home so I had to format the document to SSI specs, using poster freeware to make the camera-ready copy of the paper. This paper got published by SSI/AIAA in 1995.

Such a wheel- space station in LEO was in line with Gerard O'Neil's wonderful vision for space colonization that was the lifeblood of the Space Studies Institute.

But the KESTS to GEO concept was not in line with that SSI vision; it would bypass the need for an initial Lunar infrastructure and colonies built at L-5 which would build the Solar Power Satellites; KESTS to GEO would build the SPS out of earth materials, economically brought up for construction in GEO by the electrically powered and supported transportation structure. In other words, I did not realize I was trying to propose something that would wipe out their grand vision's purpose for happening.

Thus it is no wonder I was ridiculed and booed out after I gave my technical paper to SSI on KESTS to GEO in 1997, naively thinking them to be focused on getting SPS built in GEO and space colonization to happen much quicker than their existing vision would. I thought they would welcome my vision with open arms; but in reality I was seen as a disruptor, and invader, something to be stamped out of existence.

It was easily seen that if enough orbiting satellites and space junk were put into the space between ground and GEO, that continuous structures like Space Elevators and KESTS to GEO Space Escalators increasingly become at risk for collision and thus destruction. Stall these transportation structures long enough, and they would not get built because of this, thus assuring that rocketry business would continue on abundantly, instead of becoming obsolete. And so they did that. And that is the situation now. We are stuck with rockets, the incredibly inefficient rocket launch vehicle access to earth orbit and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, there is still potential for building KESTS to GEO, if mankind chose to do so.

Anyway, after getting the boot from Princeton, I nursed my wounds but saw no flaw in my technical concept itself; so I submitted a technical paper to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) space conference in 1998. It got rejected. I rewrote it and it finally got accepted for presentation and publication in 2000, and thus became the first peer-reviewed formal technical paper hardcopy published on the KESTS to GEO concept. Two years later, I wrote a more complete paper on the subject and presented it to the ASCE 2002 space conference. But clearly there was some interference going on; NASA had sponsored someone to make a spectacular proposal saying that the Earth Space Elevator was ready to build, if money were available to do so. And thus no one was interested my concept when something else could be built right away, that would do a similar job. Of course, we now know that it was not ready to build at all; but the timing was just right to shoot down the budding KESTS to GEO concept. In 2004 a third technical paper on KESTS to GEO was presented my me, and the paper published, but clearly it was being ditched by the rocket launch business interests who freshly had been given contracts for the manned Mars project by NASA.

I began to realize that NASA itself was actively against KESTS to GEO. Impossible as that seemed to me to be; was not NASA devoted to advancing space utilization including space colonization?

But, rocketry systems were what NASA folks were experts in. Not some weird electric motor completely encircling the Earth; their academic and corporate expertise would largely be obsolete and they would have to go back to college, maybe to fail this time. Nope; keep business as usual.

And after all, NASA has the mandate to enable America to stay ahead of the Space Race, to protect America from possible lunar bases built on the Moon aimed at us, like Cuba back in the 1960's that was what NASA was created to do, and now it has the task of maintaining that technical expertise of manpower and manufacturing. The scientific folks can do relatively safer robotic missions to Mars and the other bodies hurtling around in our solar system, keeping their technical expertise up through that kind of exercise, and also happening to see what the potentials are out there. But space colonization is not in NASA's mandate. Solar Power Satellites are not in NASA's mandate. Congress sets NASA's purpose. NASA is just doing its job. And, the prospect of them having to build a KESTS to GEO most likely is scary to them; too different and too many goofs inevitable, like in early rocket development.

The KESTS to GEO concept would provide a means for electrically lifting goods and personnel from ground up into GEO and back, potentially very energy efficiently. The amount of energy added to each pound of mass lifted from the equator up into GEO is only 7,300 KWh, or 73 cents per pound, if at a energy cost of 10 cents per KWh. Lifting an average person up into GEO would therefore add the amount of energy to his mass, about the same as the cost of a trip from coast to coast by airplane. Building things in GEO could become very low cost and rapid instead of the incredible cost and effort of rocket launch to there, as is required now.

KESTS to GEO can take many forms. For example, KESTS could also be built for ground to LEO access, or even be used in circular form, linking pressure-supported towers located around the planet along the equator, for highly efficient intercontinental travel. But the most useful form would be from equatorial ground up into GEO, where something will stay put, with no intermediate use of a rocket propelled vehicle or other free-flying vehicle. Walk onto KEST on the ground, walk off into GEO.

The KESTS to GEO structure would not have its weight supported by the counterbalance of a weight swung around by the Earth's rotation, as would be done in the case of the anchored tether Space Elevator concept.

Instead, it would provide its own internal centrifugal force in the direction opposing Earth's gravitational field everywhere, but constrained high velocity armature segments endlessly circulating within the hollow hoop structure at velocities several times that of the orbital velocity along that path.

Thus the surplus outward centrifugal force supports the static weight of the earth-stationary part of the structure.

The whole transportation structure is essentially a synchronous electric motor. In its primary form, all the energy is input to it at the ground terminal, by electromagnetic accelerators synchronously re-accelerating each armature segment as it passes through the accelerator; the armature segment then coasts all around the planet within the hollow hoop, back again the the earth terminal accelerator where its energy losses along the way are replenished over and over again. Millions of such armature segments comprise the high velocity mass that provides the outward push against the hoop structure, supporting its weight and the weight of its live loads.

The armature segments' upward-bound mass stream are also configured, at least in part, for being electrodynamically braked against by coupling to captive spacecraft, thus lifting the spacecraft up between ground and GEO; thus the vehicles carry no energy source nor need any beamed to them by lasers.

The captive spacecraft carrying construction materials and personnel up from ground to GEO, would move continuously up one side and down the other side gently back to Earth. Counter-rotating mass streams within the hoop are needed for this, note, laterally coupled by the constraints on their inductive extreme high velocity maglev tracks. The continuous lift of materials up to GEO make rapid construction of large scale Solar Power Satellites possible.

It also make s possible the construction of spaceports in GEO, where rocket components would be electrically lifted efficiently up to GEO, where the reaction-engined spacecraft would head off to space, already 91% up out of the Earth's gravitational energy well. Returning to Earth is just as efficient, no re-entry energy to be dealt with.

This would enable a whole new paradigm about civilization's relationship with space at the vast resources there of room to grow, material to be found, energy from the sun 24/7, and opportunity to establish space colonies abundantly in high earth orbit as well as on the Moon, Phobos, Mars and asteroids, for starters.

But we chose not to do this. Business as usual is lots easier. We have kids to put through college, etc.

In 2005 I naively also tried presenting papers to Space Elevator conferences. It was as popular as a Ford salesman babbling away at a General Motors new car showroom. They published three of my KESTS to GEO related technical papers, but they somehow ungrouped the graphics so they are meaningless, useless for communicating the concepts.

I finally got the message. Corporate aerospace does not like KESTS to GEO.

A friend who understands the world more than I do, urged me to write science fiction about my concepts, instead of technical papers. I at first resented that, fearing people already call my concepts science fiction, not having been built yet. But, eventually I discovered that writing high tech science fiction about my concepts was cathartic, finally living out the building and usage of such transportation systems involving Centristation, the Space Elevator, KESTS to GEO and Circular KESTS. It got to be fun and interesting to do so, and was lots easier than traveling to space conferences and coping with public speaking tying to convince hostile people of the worth of my concepts. I had to learn how to format the sci fi novels so they could be printed as paperbacks, and made available for sale at Amazon, but nobody buys them, nobody knows they are there, and Amazon does not bring them up in title searches. I have also made most of the novels into eBook format too, via Smashwords.

What more can I do to help space colonization happen?

In evaluating this kind of effort for what caused the failure to get these concepts to be made physical, so that the larger goal of establishing living systems off-planet can be achieed, some factors need to be considered. There is a characteristic integration among the pieces of the concepts, different from team designs or design by committee; for example, although the Centristation in LEO project would be built using over 200 launches of a three-part reuseable teleoperated launch and docking system, using conventional chemical rockets, and its purpose is to get advance R&D done for the construction of 10,000-person Stanford-Torus type space colonies in GEO, that it still needs the KESTS to GEO already built to at least a small lifting capacity girth, or at least built to access LEO from the ground. This is because of the need to staff it with some 200 people, perhaps as many as a thousand people. It would take the transportation capacity of a KESTS to put that many people into orbit in a short time, and to get them back again in a hurry if need be. The orbit of the Centristation would be chosen to not intersect with the KESTS to GEO. The characteristic integration of such large scale projects is the result of both a predisposition by the individual, plus the very long term obsessive pursuit of a subject for achievement that is characteristic of someone with Asperger's Syndrome. In this case, consider that large scale earth to space transportation structures were sought and found as early as 1969; and some some 42 years of mulling over the basic transportation problem having been done even since then. It is the result of much of a lifetime obsession with the subject. Both conscious and subconscious mind ever at least partially looking for hints of pieces to the solution of the puzzle the Asperger person seeks to build.

Yet the naive Asperger person believes that humanity will accept him/her finally, when a successful concept design is produced. Like the fable of the rejected "different" Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Christmas time, the goal is to come through to save the day. Such fantasies are rarely realized in the real world, however; the real world just usually dismisses the Asperger's great creation as somehow unworthy; or if not, the Asperger must have stolen it from someone of high academic or corporate stature. This is because of the non-Asperger's nature of ever striving to prove he/she is better than... somebody. The Asperger with the concept is considered a show-off, trying to be better-than you; therefore, must be put down, in order to restore everybody's status. Such petty processes are busy influencing what happens to the concept; and will normally result in either someone else stepping forward and declaring it is their idea, or someone else's idea, thus the concept originator is righteously put in his/her place; and the concept is now loose and available for all the regular folks to use without involving the originator anymore. (Unfortunately they usually do a poor job of utilizing it, settling for merely one implementation of it that makes them money.)

For some reason, the group psychology needed for some corporation to form a team to develop such a concept to bring it into reality, needs to thusly pry rights to the concept from the one who has spent much of a lifetime creating it, by trickery like that; it shows that they are smarter after all. The concept is thought to be completely the property of those who are in the team and the team's financiers; and indeed patents are not awarded to the originator of the concept that describes how to build something, it is awarded to whoever follows the instructions and thus puts it into practice before others do.

Yet the spread of new concepts need to be done. Like the story of Archimedes, having long struggled with the very complex problem of how to calculate the exact volume of a complex metal object volume so as to be able to correctly measure its density and therefore determine the type of metal of which it is made, having noticed in a bathtub how the water rises in exact displacement of his complex body's shape, he made the connection that the same thing could be applied to the complex shape of, say, a gold jewelry item; simply measure the height of the liquid it displaces, inside a constant cross sectional area container. The integrated volume is found as easy as that. And so this technique was eventually communicated widely, so that all people might utilize it. The concept becomes part of civilization's tools.

So, to seek engineering failure analysis of social systems, and find ways to resolve the problems, it is suggested that people seek more understanding, and make it available to others, I suppose, like in this writing.

Jim Cline 20111028 Ephrata, WA, USA

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