KESTS to OHR: Task of lifting civilization to a new site in GEO

by James E. D. Cline

KESTS to OHR: Exploring a conceptual design for creating a thriving civilization in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, and creating the kind of transportation system which could enable us all to get there in the relatively near future


Exploring the potentials of a new transportation concept leads to ways to build extremely tall transportation structures, even possibly reaching out into space as far as Geosynchronous Earth Orbit. Within such structures, streams of very high velocity mass armature segments electromagnetically couple kinetic energy throughout the structure. Electrically powered, the transportation structure would support its own weight, provide trackways and continuously deliver the energy needed to lift its vehicles with their payload along its length. Easily transported by the structure up to GEO, large solar power satellites could then beam millimeter wave energy back down to rectennas near the transportation structure's earthsurface terminals, providing the electric power for the transportation system to run its own self. With a continuously operating massive lift capacity, such transportation structures open the door to large scale habitation in Earth orbit. With large-scale facilities built in GEO, the lunar surface becomes a likely source for materials for roboticaly building massive space habitats in GEO. A sufficiently large capacity for both lifting people with their household possessions, and sufficient capacity for building homes/agriculture/industry for supporting them there, sparks the possibility that space technology could possibly provide a major solution for enabling a great increase in human civilization while similarly greatly reducing the human load on the Earth's surface ecosystem itself. Follow the thread of the development of these concepts to reach the possibility of this astonishing conclusion.

At the present time, it is generally believed that, to solve the "overpopulation problem", space technology cannot possibly provide the lift capacity to enable movement of a significant portion of humanity into homes in space; but the KESTS to OHR concept challenges that belief.



Some of us are concerned about our ongoing path which continues to destroy the remaining non-food species on our planet, destroys the oxygen-producing rainforests, piles up non-recyclable refuse and toxifies our living spaces, and threatens negative population growth's probable tyrannical oppression of near-future human civilization. There are many plans for limiting and/or cutting back the human population's size, plans for improving recycling of some parts of our garbage, plans for coping with rising toxicity in our homes and environment, plans for finding alternate materials for dwindiling supplies of some kinds of raw materials, plans for attempting to save some of our companion plant/animal species on this planet, plans to bury radioactive nuclear wastes somewhere, plans to limit pollution of our planet's rivers and oceans. But to provide a humane option which easily avoids the destruction of the remaining non-food species on our planet, along with avoiding negative population growth's oppression of near-future human civilization, KESTS to OHR is an innovative approach using space technology to enable the vigorous expansion of human civilization while enabling the restoration of long term biodiverse balance to the Earth's surface ecosystem. Explore here a potential near-future path which can instead lead to a greatly thriving expanding creative civilization while enabling the deep restoration of the Earth's surface biodiverse ecosystem, by using innovative reconfigured space technologies and the vast resources of space. We humans thrive best as creative builders, so here may be a way we can thrive thusly in a big way.


In contrast to the widely prevailing belief that space research cannot contribute significantly to the looming problems of our species on the planet, this document suggests that there may indeed be a way space technology can help, and help in a very big way. Surely seeming very farfetched at first, consider what if we could move most of human civilization slightly off-planet, with this relocated civilization supported mostly by space resources, and then restore the Earth's surface to as much a balanced ecosystem with maximum diverstiy of species as remain at that time? Would this be an interesting alternative to the otherwise probable fate of our planet's ecosystem and human civilization in the relatively near future? Let us suppose, for a moment, that such a space-derived alternative is not actually impossible....

Perhaps considering it science fiction potential at first, please suspend your incredulity for awhile and explore: what would it take to do it? Given a near-future world population of 7 billion, and the ability of a diverse balanced earth surface ecosystem to maintain a maximum human long-term population of, say, 1 billion people total worldwide, this means finding a new home for the "excess" 6 billion people in the near future, say within 20 years from now. If we could move an average of about 1 million people a day into space, that would be roughly 3 years needed for the relocation of each billion people, thus taking some 18 years to move the 6 billion people and their belongings into their new homes in space.

So let your creative imagination expand to explore what it would take to build homes in space for 1 million people a day, along with the agricultural-industrial systems to support them; and what kind of transportation system it would take to move these people and their belongings into Earth orbital space, and do it soon enough to be useful.



Designs have been around awhile for building large scale space settlements, with interrior conditions simulating condominium-style lifestyle in centrepetally-supplied simulated earth surface gravity, but unfortunately no availability for the means to build them in quantities, nor of any way to get vast quantities of people up to them in space. For example, back in 1976, a summer workshop sponsored by NASA developed a very detailed design for a nearly self-sufficient 10,000-person space settlement of near-earthsurface normal living conditions within it, centrifugally providing simulated earthsurface-normal gravity on their inner rims as they slowly rotate, designed then for use at L-5 in our earth-moon system. This example design used active and passive radiation shielding; toroidal interiors which were divided up into six sections of alternating agricultural and residential/light-industrial usage. The solar energy input to the agricultural system is seven times as great in space as it averages on the planet's surface, enabling intensified agricultural systems, and the artificial centrifugally-supplied gravity enabled the use of ordinary agricultural food species such as oats, beans, grapefruit trees, cattle, chicken and fish. Homes were conventional condominium style and size, arranged along the sides of the valley-like 600-foot-wide interior wheel rims. The adjacent vast zero-gee high vacuum environment was available for those industrial processes which would thrive in it. NASA's SP-413 describes these space settlements in detail, including detailed toroidal structural design, agricultural design, and residential design.

If we infilled the Geosynchrounous Earth Orbit, some 20,300 miles above the earth's equator, with a coaxial ring of 10,000-person-each toriods somewhat similar to those envisioned in detail by that NASA summer study, for example, this would be living room for some 15 billion people per ring of habitats, plenty of room compared to the 7 billion population upcoming. If the basic structure of these 100 space habitats built per day were robotically built of materials brought from the Earth's moon, this would provide the basic living-agricultural-industrial-commercial space required for the 1 million people per day. Outfitting the interior of these habitats into comfortable earthnormal environments which are truely a joy in which to wholesomely work-eat-sleep-love-play daily, would employ a lot of people; with a workforce increasing by 300,000 people up there per day, a lot of jobs are needed anyway. Thus we begin to imagine a conceivable solution to the housing and resource system needed for the task of relocating much of human civilization into near-earth space.



If we are going to suggest putting the lives and well-being of billions of people into space habitats, the technologies of creating and maintaining large scale space habitats needs to be well proven out, the myriad interacting living systems within electromechanical systems need to be harmonized into feedback stablizwd balances. So early in R and D of this concept's feasability, at least one medium scale toroidal space habitat needs be built and operated in Low Earth Orbit to minimize the radiation shielding needed. A mile-diameter basic space habitat could be built in LEO and spun up with little or no human presence there prior to spin-up, by the serial docking into circular form of a couple hundred prefab habitat modules, each wet-launched by unmanned reuseable tug pairs which fly back to the launch site after launch and docking of each prefabricated module toroidal habitat segment. The 200-person space habitat would first be built on the ground and developed into a nearly self-sufficient habitat harmonizing the many interacting living-mechanical systems, where convenient to make required modifications as they are discovered.

Then the toroid would be dissassembled segment by segment, each segment then being modified to serve as its own fuel tank during launch, connected to the tug booster engine-control-system launch, docking and flyback vehicle and to the airbreathing independently flyback booster vehicle for launch.

With redundant launch tug vehicles and spare generic modules to fill in for inevitable launch failures, the space habitat could be emplaced in LEO in less than 6 months, ready then for the prefab habitat modules to be stripped of the wet-launch temporary fuel tank usage modifications, provisioned and cabled for safety for after being spun up for simulated 1-gee within the inner rim of the toroidal structure. The toroidal structure would then be spun up, and the personnel would be shuttled up to populate it for the research on site in orbit. The basic technologies developed in the creation of the Space Shuttle, reconfigured, are well-suited to this launch task. The resulting 200-person mile-diameter rotating research space habitat needs to develop and prove out the long-assumed ability for space habitats to provide a safe and wholesome residential/agricultural/working space for large numbers of people, in a living environment that is very close to that which lifeforms have accustomed to on the ground, proving that life can thrive there in a nearly self-sufficient way.



What kind of massive transportation system would be needed to move 1 million people per day into earth orbit, along with their household belongings, pets, and botanical belongings? A conventional reaction engine transportation system such as the Space Shuttle would be extraordinarily costly at $10,000 per pound, and pollute the atmosphere with aluminum toxins within a day's operation. New kinds of reuseable reaction engine powered spacecraft based entirely on engines fueld only by liquid hydrogen and oxygen would avoid the SRB's aluminum atmospheric toxins, but still would be extraordinarily costly. Even SSTO's providing $1,000 per pound or even $100 per pound... that would be $15,000 per 150 pound adult, and $100,000 per 10,000 pounds of household goods per person ... even at $100 per pound transportation costs. It would take a great railroad system indeed to transport the required payload per day, at only a couple dollars per pound.

A railroad from earthsurface to GEO? What could possibly support the weight of a railroad like that? And what would power the trains on those tracks?

A track rail configuration which circles around the Earth, connecting with the Earth's equatorial surface at its low point, and grazing GEO at its high point, in a somewhat elliptical shape, would enable a circulating form that could utilize centrifugal force to hold its shape against the pull of gravity, analogous to a cowboy's lariat spinning rope into a hoop shape, the outward centrifugal force holding it round, radially stretching upward against the force of gravity. Electrical power could input energy to rotate the hoop track driven from the equatorial earthsurface contact site. So, a vague possibility begins to appear amidst the original utter seeming impossibility of it all.

Instead of spinning the railroad track itself, have it stationary relative the the earthsurface, and spin circulating mass streams within it, at faster than orbital velocity at any point, to provide the outward centrifugal force upward against the track (as the above-orbital-velocity mass streams attempt to go to a higher orbit) so as to support the track's weight and the weight of live loads on the track. This spinning mass supporting the structure's weight in the earth's gravitational field could be electromagnetically coupled to the track structure, and ride magnetic levitation bearings along the underside of the track structure.

There is a dual lift mechaniism operating in such a system. The spinning mass could be a discontinuous mass stream, resembling the rotor armature of an electrical motor, so let's name the discontinuous segments of mass "armature segments". The armature segments would be accellerated in an electromagnetic mass launcher located at the earth's equatorial contact site of the overall structure, to velocities well over the orbital velocity at that altitude, so they must be enclosed in a high vacuum tube, as part of the track structure, at least within the Earth's atmosphere areas of the track. And if the armature segments electromagnetically drag slightly against the track structure as they go along their upward part of their circulating journey around the planet, this would provide additional lift supporting the weight of the track structure. A pair of contrarotating armature mass streams provides upward-bound lift along both sides of the structure.

The upward-bound high velocity armature mass streams within the track structure could also be tapped inductively by the vehicles riding the track from earth surface to GEO, directly providing the power required to lift the trains and their passengers and cargo from the ground to eEarth orbit. This is done at an energy cost to the armature mass stream; the lost energy is restored to the mass stream by electromagnetic reaccelleration of the armature mass stream the next time each armature segment passes the earth surface contact terminal accellerator site. The same re-acceleration process restores the energy of the mass stream which is consumed by the support of the weight of the stationary track structure in place between earth surface and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit. Thus a Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure (KESTS) technology needs to be created and developed.

The overall track structure needs to rotate once every 24 hours, to be synchronous with the earth's equator. If the contrarotating armature mass streams ride magnetic levitation tracks under the railroad track sturucture side by side, thus mass streams in opposite directions are constrained to follow the same trajectory, adjusting their exit velocities at the earthsurface contact reacelleration site would give the prograde direction a 1,000 mph higher velocity than the mass stream going countergrade to the earth's direction of rotation seems an approach to enable the structure's rotation synchronous with the planet. Configuring the contrarotating mass streams into pairs which are symmetrical about the center of the track structure could balance out the tendency to twist the track at right angles to the direction of mass flow. Determining the strength of materials required to resist the shear forces between the mass streams in the track structure would be part of the KESTS equations, as well as determining the strength of magnetic fields in the maglev tracks required to couple these forces.

The windload against the track structure where it is within the atmosphere could be high and vairable during storms. Windload stresses along the structure could be measured by sensors, to provide the data for adjusting the exit velocity vector at the reacelleration site to compensate for the lateral wind forces moment by moment.

Emplacing KESTS into position is another challenging task. There are a number of approaches to initial emplacement of KESTS around the planet, mostly involving chemical fuel launch processes trailing a very small basic KESTS structure around above the planet, and thereafter using the resulting initial tiny crossection micromachined KESTS to lift matching KESTS track structure along it, exponentially adding to its girth, increasing its carrying capacity until reaching the full working transportation capacity.

Other questions to be resolved include the possibility of a multiplicity of KESTS around the planet, at equatorial sites, making it easier to transport people and household goods to an earthsurface contact point of the nearest KESTS: would the KESTS necessarily interfere destructively with each other where they cross in space? And can KESTS be built to function from pairs of ground sites mirrored across the equator, enabling higher latitude KESTS direct access?

Where would all the enormous electrical energy required to support and power this transportation system come from? Initially, it would come from conventional earthsurface electrical power grids. Once in place to GEO, it could enable the easy construction of immense solar power stations in GEO beaming electrical power back to the earhsurface via microwaves, received by rectennas near the KESTS structure's earthsurface re-accelleration site. A later possibility is to emplace solar electric power stations on the structure itself below synchronous altitudes, and support the resulting weight fraction of the power station by thrusting against the downward-going sides of the armature mass streams, and this added kinetic energy would be inductively electrically extracted at the earthsurface contact site. Surplus electrical power could be sold to the planet's electrical power grids in the vicinity of the equator; and could be used to create liquid hydrogen and more complex liquid hydrocarbons for shipment around the world for use as a renewable resource fuel. Or microwave transmission beams from the GEO solar-electric power stations could deliver electrical power nearly anywhere on the planet by direct power beams to rectennas near the various electrical power grids on the earth surface, and sale of this electrical energy could provide extra profit to the overall operation, as well as provide pollution-free electrical power to homes and industries remaining on the earth surface.

KESTS technology seems potentially uniquely qualified for the task of relocating 6 billion people into earth orbit because of its large potential carrying capacity, its electrical energy use instead of chemical fuels for lifting in a planetary gravitational field, and its intrinsic delivery of lift energy directly to cargo/passenger carrying vehicles riding it without use of innefficient electrical power conductors, eliminating cargo-carrying vehicles' need to carry propulsion fuel. Electromagnetically tapping the kinetic energy of the armature segment mass stream anywhere along the KESTS enables trains which carry no propulsion fuel.



The basic principles of KESTS appearantly are often hard to understand, even by the well-educated. It certainly is an unorthodox way of doing things, true. So now explaining in different words how KESTS would work, first note that there are two mechanisms at work which support the weight of the track, holding its mass up by resisting the force of gravity upon it. Recalling the cowboy's lasso analogy mentioned earlier, a spinning rope structure has centrifugal force which stretches all parts of the rope loop away from the center of rotation, maintaining a circular shape of the otherwise limp rope structure. The "rope" of the lasso is analogous to the armature mass streams which slide around the underside of the track structure on maglev tracks, travelling at velocities significantly higher than the orbital velocity at any altitude along the KESTS structure as it goes around the planet, thus the armature mass stream attempts to rise to a higher altitude, but is restrained by the weight of the track structure which is motionless relative to the earth surface, so the upward push of the armature mass stream partially counteracts the weight of the unmoving part of the structure and its live loads. This also puts an overall tensile stress on the motionless track structure, which converts the overall structure from a purely compression unstable structure, into a tensile structure which can more easily hold its long thin shape while responding to changing forces. The other mechanism which holds the relatively motionless track structure up against the force of gravity, is a carefully adjusted distributed electromagnetic inductive drag of the rising portion of the armature mass stream against the track structure, slowing the mass stream slightly in return for upward push against the track structure. The two lift forces need to be carefully adjusted to balance the weight of the KESTS track structure all along its circumference, thus supporting the weight of the relatively motionless KESTS track structure against the force of gravity of the planet which it encircles. And the way the train vehicles receive the energy to lift up along the track against the planetary gravitational field's pull, is to inductively drag against the rising portion of the armature mass stream's magnetic field, thus being pulled up by the extremely fast mass stream passing by upward bound along the KESTS track structure's underside on maglev tracks. The energy extracted from the mass stream while supporting the weight of the stationary track structure and while lifting the trains with their cargo up the tracks, is restored back into the mass stream when it passes through the stator structure which is itself securely connected to the earth's surface to push against while electromagnetically re-accellerating the armature mass stream segments as they pass by, driven by electrical power. This electrical power, again, comes from several possible sources: initially the conventional electric utility power grid, then after solar-electric power plants are built in GEO emplaced by KESTS, powered by solar electric power from space, and third, possibly direct downward thrust of solar electric powerplants located alongside the KESTS below GEO can contribute the energy needed to power the KESTS, and there may well be surplus electrical energy for sale to the electric utility companies and for local industrial processes. A KESTS to GEO very much resembles an electric motor encircling the planet, in which the outward/upward centrifugal forces are significant, and upward dynamic braking drag is also deliberately utilized to provide lift against the force of gravity for both the relatively motionless track structure and its cargo-carrying live loads.



Once the first KESTS from earthsurface to GEO is built, full-sized 10,000-person research space settlements can be built in GEO to further prove out and develop space habitats for use there, including the massive radiation shielding needed there. From a solid large capacity beachhead in GEO, a return to the moon in a big way can happen, which is needed for creating a lunar mining, materials processing and transportation system to GEO. Possibilities for the massive lunar-GEO transportation system so far envisioned include mass launchers/catchers, lunar KESTS, a tether electromagnetic mass siphon through L1, or circulating skyhooks circulating between the lunar farside tether pickup point and around to the earth orbital dropoff altitude where the angular momentum is restored by precisely synchronized release of the payload.

Development of the industrial robotics necessary do the mining, materials processing, structural prefabrication, lunar-to-GEO transportation, and assembly onsite in GEO of some 100 each 10,000-person basic habitat structures per day then needs creation. Very big tasks, yes, but conceivable. Surely by the time we have built KESTS to GEO and built 10,000-person space habitats there, we will have developed the capacity to think big. And surely the goal's purpose is worthy, that of restoring a earth surface balanced diverse ecosystem while enabling a renewed vigorous expansion of human civilization.



Such a gargantuan innovative task needs a massive highly competant workforce to create it, a newly rejuvenated humanity dedicated to enabling its own future in a highly desireable way, becoming responsible for both civilization's growth and with the well-being of the earth's surface ecosystem. Whole-brain functionality processes and body-mind integration processes, largely based on kinesiological re-education of the body-mind system, seem potentially able to provide the higher level of human functionality required on a large scale needed to satisfactorily complete this KESTS-to-OHR project, and restore the planetary ecosystem to long term survivable balance as a treasurehouse of biodiversity for the future, and as a great vacation restoration worksite for the many tens of billions of prosperous dwellers in the OHR in the future.



How to harmonize creation of the KESTS-to-OHR project with existing businesses which are based on technologies which would conflict with it? Satellites below GEO altitude, and reaction engine powered spacecraft travelling around the planet below GEO, represent potential collision hazard with KESTS, for example, and reaction engine powered transportation would probably be primarily useful above GEO, given the head start to space provided easily from there. Communication and GPS satellites below GEO are included in the list of potential hazards, and the industries which have now invested in them need to be converted to KESTS-to-OHR related industries. Many powerful yet shortsighted businessmen will no doubt highly object to creation of KESTS-to-OHR, when it appears to interfere with their currently ongoing financial business plans; yet the needs of human civilization and the planetary ecosystem's wholesome survival may depend upon overcoming the special interest businessmen's objections. Solutions comfortable to all concerned hopefully can be arranged, and be models for the many changes to human lives which would occur as a result of moving the focus of civilization up to the Orbital Habitat Ring encircling the Earth.



So, perhaps the idea of moving much of human civilization off-planet to enable restoration of the planetary ecosystem and enable a vigorous growth to human civilization, does not seem quite so utterly preposterous as it did in the beginning. However, few people currently support even the thought of KESTS-to-OHR, and sometimes express hostility toward it in a variety of ways. Vast engineering development studies would surely be required to get closer to a feasability measure of the overall concept; but for now, this is a direction we could look, given somehow the motivation to be fundamentally responsible for the fate of our Mother Earth and of our human civilization's wholesome vigor, near- and long-term.

Very little actually gets done in our culture unless someone makes money while doing it. Where does the money come from to cover the development and manufacturing costs until money starts coming in from the sale of surplus electrical power, transportation fees, and from the sale of real estate in the Orbital Habitat Ring? Perhaps from those who are responsible for the future of our planet's ecosystem, and responsible for the state of near-future human civilization ... but ... who exactly are those "responsible people"?

Much money would be needed to pay for development of the Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure, development of earthnormal interior high capacity space habitats onsite in space, and a largely robotic system to mine the moon and convert its raw materials into space habitat structure modules, deliver them to GEO, and robotically assemble the basic space settlement structures there. Although the main thrust of development needs to be toward the overall goal of expanding human civilization while restoring the ecosystem of the earthsurface, surely shorter term goals requiring use of KESTS technology could provide unique solutions for support of very tall towers, elevators, and over-water bridge structure of enormous span, and development of these transportation systems could inspire development of the high reliability of KESTS needed for the ultimate task of moving most of civilization up to the GEO Orbital Habitat Ring site.

Appropriate mathematical and physical modelling of the mechanisms and structures are needed now to get closer to a full feasability determination. But the widespread belief that space technology cannot be significantly used to solve mankind's pressing problems is surely challenged by this KESTS-to-OHR concept. We, humanity, could have a wonderful future, after all.


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