Surely this is probably the most sociopolitically unacceptable idea imaginable


Think of the potential changes in real estate values, changes to national boundaries, to industrial power heirarchies, and individual's family homes and lifestyles. Everyone resists change; we all worked too hard to get where we are now. It is characteristic of people to react to the thought of everybody moving to a ring of habitats in space surrounding the earth, while the land and seas below are systematically restored to best possible balance, and the landfill old garbage dumps are bulldozed out and shipped up to be passive shielding on the space habitats, forests reclaiming the land their homes were built upon.

Just about everybody "hears" that the concept means something like that they will be forced out of their homes, their real estate holdings confiscated, their favorite ski resort recreation forever taken away from them... and they are shipped up to prison-like submarine-bunk living conditions for the rest of their life, spinning around crazily in a weird artificial gravity, fed algae and their own recycled urine.

Yes, it could be that way, especially if it turns out that we have to desperately move up there fast because our ecosystem has indeed collapsed here and no way can we or much else live here anymore... somewhere the ecosystem web was broken beyond repair; and the space habitats were not properly previously researched due to too much hostility and sabotage on the project in the past. In fact, this is the most likely way the scenario will go, historically people don't take action until it is desperation time. But it does not have to be that way! Understasnding what people react this way is necessary to overcome that reactive handicap:

Ther is a concept by Paul McLean named the Triune Brain Theory, which really helps understanding. This theory groups our brain structures into three groups: the R-Complex or back brain, the mammalian Limbic or midbrain, and the Cerebral Cortex largest part of our brain. The R-Complex, back brain, is responsible for carrying out all physical actions of our body, using subprogram routines, such as controlling the complex muscular actions that enable us to walk, for example, our conscious mind delegating the coordination of all these muscles to the R-Complex brain. But the R-Complex, back brain, functions by the set of routines, and it provides urges to control territory upon which we survive, among other things. So when the possibility of involuntary leaving one's territory (home, workplace, etc), this protective reactive part of ourselves kicks in and will take over to "defend one's resource base territory", if not moderated by the higher brain functions consciously. Since all conscious physical actions a person takes must go through this R-Complex back-brain watchdog on the way to getting things done, so adequate proof of sustained resource territory must be provided to get the necessary cooperation; And this proof must be in terms the back-brasin uses.

So let's start providing some of that "proof of increased resource base territory" by starting to examine the possible new living conditions.

Fortunately, much space habitat design work has already been done for living environments similar to that on the earth surface, pseudogravity same as on the ground, and serves as an example of the kind of habitats which could make up the ring of habitats infilling the Clarke Belt for the KESTSOHR project described on these web pages.

A quarter century ago, a space program was planned out in detail to provide solar-electric power for all the nations of the earth, eliminating the need to burn fossil fuels or use nuclear power plants, and as part of the project large space habitats would be built at the Lagrange points L4 and L5, where the space colonies would be building the 10GW-each SSPS solar-electric powerlants in space before transferring them to GEO. Most of the structure for these habitats would be made of material transferred from the lunar surface. Assuming approval for the space project was achieved then (1976), in 22 years the first apace colony of 10,000 people would be completed, (would have been completed last year in 1998), and 5 solar electric powerplants done by then; by 29 years after start, the second colony would be completed and 25 of the 10 GW each SSPS would be supplying power for earth surface commercial electric power grids, pollution-free. (Obviously people chose not to start the project, and so now in 1999 we don't have 10,000 people living in space nor do we have the 50 GW of solar electric power beamed here to light our cities. Look around you: did we build those things or not? Nope, not yet, haven't started yet so we haven't finished yet....)

An example space habitat design for 10,000 people, from 1976

The example space colony studied in detail in 1976 by NASA would be home for up to 10,000 men, women and children; and be wheel-like in shape. The agriculture is divided into 3 of the 6 alternating sections of the wheel-like structure, each of those 3 farms contains 20,000 chickens, 10,000 rabbits, and 500 cattle. The agricultural system supplies an average person with 470 g of carbohydrates and fats and 100 g of protein and 2 liters of water in food and drink each day. The fruit trees are grown in the residential areas and parks where they provide beauty as well as 250 g/person/day of fruit. For each person there are 26 fish, 6.2 chickens, 2.8 rabbits, and 0.5 cattle; 317 g/person/day of sorghum, 470 of soybeans, 225 of wheat, 125 of rice, 50 of corn, and 687 of vegetables. All this is grown on tiers along the inside of the curved 65 m diameter tube. Potable drinking water for humans is obtained by dehumidifier condensation from the air, moisture put there mostly by transpiration of the agricultural plants.

Homes are similarly built up the sides of the wheel-like colony. Each person has an efficiently designed 49 square meters of living apartment space. Overall there is 980,000 square meters of community area within the colony, and 630,000 square meters for agriculture, processing and mechanical systems.

The colony's shell is made of aluminum 2.1 cm thick, designed to resist atmospheric pressure loads of 50kPa and the centrifugal force of its own mass as well as 530,000 t of internal mass; the aluminum shell's mass is 156,000 t. With 15 m between decks, the total projected area is 678,000 square meters, and 74 percent of the space is extra volume reducing the appearant population density. This space habitat shape is called a "Stanford Torus", providing the space for housing, agriculture community activites and light industry within a 130 meter diameter tube bent into a wheel 1800 meters in diameter, with 6 spokes to the central zero-gee hub, where entrance to the colony is gained. Glass windows 2.8 cm thick are mounted on aluminum ribs cover 1/3 of the torus admitting sunlight downward into the living and agricultural areas. The hub goes to a fabrication sphere which connects to a 200 MW solar electric powerplant, and 5E5 square meters of heat radiator.

The torus of 830 m diameter of 65 m bent tube, has an internal atmosphere of 1/2 that at sea level with an oxygen partial pressure that of sea level 22.7 kPa, nitrogen at 26.7 kPa, projected area of 7E5 square meters, 7E7 cubic meters internal volume, 44kt of atmosphere, uses 10Mt of passive shielding mass, longest distance of surface travel of 2600 meters, longest line of sight of 640 meters, pseudogravity of 0.95 plus/minus 0.5 g, rotates at about once per minute; radiation exposure for general population of less than 0.5 rem per year, atmospheric temperature of 23 deg plus/minus 8 deg celsius.

(Ref NASA SP-413 "Space Settlements, a design study" 1977, lccn 76-600068.)

Starting to design the Clarke Belt GEO Habitat Ring

So as a running start on the design of the first layer of the GEO Clarke Belt Habitat Ring of space habitats, let us consider stringing such toroidal habitats all around the earth in synchronous orbit, their hubs all consisting of a transportation tube that circles the planet. These habitats spin, so the tubing must provide the torque for precesing the habitats full around once each 24 hours. They need to be spaced apart to allow for the mirrors that reflect sunlight in through the glass windows on the inside rim of the habitats, so lets's say they are twice as far apart as they are wide: being 65 meters wide, that makes the overall portion of GEO occupied by each habitat 195 meters. Since the radius of GEO is 4.2E7 meters, the circumference is 2 pi times this, or 2.6E8 meters, room for 1.3E6 habitats per layer of the habitat ring. At a maximum of 10,000 people per habitat, 1.3 million of them provides a maximum of 1.3E10 people per layer of the habitat ring. Thirteen billion people, room for comfortable living for twice the total world population now, just in the first layer of habitats! If it were necessary, the whole world population could move to such a habitat ring and have room to double in size before needing to add a next layer.

Page by J. E. D. Cline in 1999.