My struggles to design and build a bridge within a specific scenario back circa 1970, put my otherwise electronics focused attention toward the nature of materials and of the history of bridge building. That it succeeded in creating a 40 foot long bridge, with a 26 foot long center span 10 feet wide and easily capable of carrying the load of a car, was probably the needed turning point of my attention that got me to seeking a structural way to reach space, which seemed utterly impossible on the surface, considering the known construction limits of tall towers.
Multi-stage chemically fueled reaction engine powered rocket launch vehicle access to space had gotten enormous attention and by then had landed a few men on the Moon and brought them back to the ground; its potentials seemed refined by the best of minds and resources, and it still took enormous resources to put even a little payload into orbit.
The bridge studies and construction success became the idea of using the earth's rotation to swing around a tether, to provide the holding force for vehicles moving from the ground up into space; but then found the strength to density of materials just could not support its own weight of the tether, even without moving payload. A year later I had shifted attention to building a similar structure on the lunar surface through the balance point toward the earth, for efficient transfer of lunar materials for construction, and built of space rated fiberglass, and basic glass material was by then known to be abundant on the lunar surface. But the world was not interested; don't both them, they are doing something else.
The strength to density ratio seemingly insurmountable materials problem of an earth surface to orbit was way too hard a problem for materials researchers, and that seemed to put mankind back on the severe limitation of rocket based space access to space.
Reading of several people who were exploring a way to get around the limitation of an earth-swung tether for space structural access, I even urged the National Commission on Space to explore them in my testimony in 1985, but that was ignored in the commission's resultant report.
I sought why the structural access ideas Lofstrom, Hyde and Smith had put forth were being snubbed, and found the weaknesses of each of them, each severe enough to conceivable justify snubbing by the NCS. That report also had not mentioned my Lunar tether transportation system made of fiberglass, too.
So these things stewed in my mind until I got an insight that began to congeal it into what appeared a fully integrated technique with its enabled applications, and called it the "KESTS to GEO" concept.
("KESTS to GEO" is an acronym for "Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure to Geostationary Earth Orbit.")
This got snubbed by the space activist community too, despite their claim to have the purpose of establishing a spacefaring society. I did not realize this was most likely fueled by the vision of a relatively few elite individuals accessing space via rockets and those few then multiplying and populating the solar system and stars, leaving the rest of us behind.
The concept I had proposed had the potential to indeed enable every person on the planet to economically reach earth orbit (if for some reason they would want to do such a thing) along with means for building habitable facilities for living in high earth orbit. That was snubbed; it was not limiting the exclusive population rights to the few elitists, like limiting of space access by rocketry does.
So I was left to burble in my beer uncomprehendingly, rewriting my KESTS to GEO concept in many forms and presenting it in technical papers at space conferences, just not realizing what I was proposing would wipe out the dreams of those who were on the rocket road to space path.
They suddenly resurrected the earth-swung tether concept, claiming a proper strength-to-density tether material was available and all they had to do was get the money and it would be built; even though such a material was in actuality non-existent, the proclamation and followup space conferences devoted to that concept totally took interest away from the KESTS to GEO concept, which was still in the conceptual design stage. Clever ploy and it worked perfectly.
So let me point out what KEST to GEO was about.
The need I assumed was for structural access to space in a potentially large scale and low cost with very high energy efficiency. The earth-swung tether for climbing, now called the "Space Elevator" had extreme materials problems, but the basic concept would utilize centrifugal force to support the structure. The centrifugal force was supplied by the 24 hour rotational period of the planet. The concept was stuck with this rotational rate and the specific outward force that would provide as supplied by the counterweight being swung around by the planet. And that combined with the molecular bonds that provided the strength of materials of potential tether materials; the two no way were close to matching. And there were construction problems of the tether too, especially if it had to be tapered, that is, maximum girth at the balance point, GEO in the case of the earth access tether.
The KESTS to GEO insight was to provide the centrifugal force that supported the structure as part of the structural function itself, instead of depending on the centrifugal force from the earth's rotation.
This would take the form of an eccentric hoop, resembling the orbit transfer trajectory ellipse between ground and GEO around the Earth, attached to the ground at the equator, and looping around the planet to its highest altitude above the opposite side of the planet. It could go to low earth orbit, but payload would still need reaction engine propulsion added to stay up there in orbit, since the anchored earth stationary part of the hoop structure still would have the same angular velocity as the planet, the 24 hour period of rotation.
The ideal upper altitude was GEO, where the orbital angular velocity matches the planets angular velocity. There, payload would stay in orbit even without any intermediary rocket propulsion step.
The concept developed from there, into various configurations, the best was in the form of a synchronous electric motor infilling the perimeter of the eccentric hoop, with its internal armature mass stream being driven by mass drivers on the ground, to be in such a velocity that their above-orbital-velocity component outward restrained centrifugal force was picked to slightly exceed the inward force of gravity on the mass of the earth-stationary part of the hoop, along with the vehicle's live load it carried between ground and GEO.
And some of that internal hoop armature segment momentum could be electromagnetically coupled to lift the vehicles with their payload from ground to space, thus needing no energy source to be carried or beamed at them.
It looked like it could easily finally enable the economical construction of the Solar Power Satellites envisioned from the 1960's; and one of them thusly built in GEO could beam energy down to power the mass drivers on the ground terminal of the transportation hoop. Many applications would become feasible in GEO. It all fit together quite well, thus providing a path for the masses of humanity to head for space to live and work, and using existing materials and close-to-present electric motor technology.
Did this stimulate excitement and a lets go do it cheer? Nope. It got snubbed.
It did not provide the rocket access to space bottleneck that would enable a small elite to go out to populate space with their genes exclusively. A horde of humanity would have instead have the potential to populate space; thus, no benefit to the few anymore. So it was ignored, and the population assumes anything ignored by the "experts" is worthless.
And that is where it stands now. My Asperger's obsession to provide a way for near future mass access of nearby space by large quantities of people, solved the technical problem, but did not solve the people problem: they wanted to play their game, not mine.
And that was a pattern I discovered on the playground in kindergarden. It is only about whose game it is and who is able to play it. It is not about what different opportunities are enabled by the various kinds of possible games.