PROMOTING GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN SPACE VENTURES
Started this discussion. Last reply by Bruce A Mackenzie Dec 13, 2010.
The SpaceShaft Endeavor has not received any gifts yet
Please note that this webpage is under construction and at this time very informal about with its layout and contents.
Hello and thank you for stopping by.
I am the original inventor of what we at “The SpaceShaft Endeavor” call “a Combined and Simultaneous Method of Construction and Vertical Transportation” and within this web-page it is my aim to describe one of the possible applications for this technology, namely one that could be considered a different type of space elevator.
What I mean by a "different Space Elevator" by comparison to that of the more popular version promoted by the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), which is considered by many as a standard for those who want to compete for the "NASA's Prize" or at least by those that visit the yearly Space Elevator Games organized by the Spaceward Foundation.
In a nutshell, the ISEC model consists of a centrifugally tensioned CNT tether anchored on Earth's surface, while the other end is attached to a small relocated celestial body synchronously rotates with our home planet .
But this website is not here to explain this model but that of the SpaceShaft. You can find more information about the ISEC's system by searching the internet.
It is important to keep in mind that these pages are primarily for sharing speculative thoughts and although they may eventually become part of what would be our permanent website, what is written here is just speculative material. Also, although I try making every effort to present accurate information these are mainly qualitative and in the realm of the theoretical and must not be assumed as scientifically correct.
Based on the "Combined and Simultaneous Method of Construction and Vertical Transportation" [CMCT} the resulting space elevator could be exemplified as either;
For all of the examples above, these imply that such a structure will tacitly have a height of many kilometers. Spanning the distance between the elevation  of sea-level and the “Kármán-line”  altitude and probably beyond, (provided that the sections that are to inhabit space are fabricated with suitable materials for use in such an inhospitable environment .
Worth also mentioning is that; our proposed space elevator is just one of the several other possible applications that our CMCT system could support. These other possible applications could be implemented as either on a stand alone bases or as an integrated part of our space elevator. In other words, our space elevator would be a structure that could serve a multiplicity of simultaneous applications, besides just reaching into Space, as for the task of a for “assisted space launch” [*] (i.e.; for satellite orbital insertions using a tangentially directed launch) or the servicing of vehicles on the fly-deck including their taxiing, in their way to and from, the currently most important region of Space, namely that of LEO. Some of those other possible applications will particularly fit within those of atmospheric activities including; transportation, tourism, science, ecological, etc.
In a nutshell, what we are claiming and describing in this website is that the atmosphere of our planet can dispense enough energy for an elevator system to be operated, which is especially capable of transporting super heavy cargo up to, and very likely beyond the Kármán line. Moreover, this without the inefficiencies of the intermittent service inherent to that of a single elevator-car traveling along the single CNT tether that could one day become available, or as due to the limited capacity the elevator-car may have, or the limitations imposed by the proposed power-beaming technology including the accurate targeting over long distances or the power dissipation levels [*]. Our system marries several traditional, well proven technologies into a completely new and combined approach for the simultaneous construction of architectural structures and the massive transportation of goods into Space.
In our further descriptions below it will be evident that our system does not require to be extended up to GEO for it to be operational. That, (if ever deployed,) it will be available for use in a much shorter time-span than that needed for the construction of a permanently anchored CNT tether. That It will have several other benefits like being less susceptible to the Coriolis effect, (thanks to its rigidity and the mooring systems that would keep it from being tossed around by winds,) that it will have a higher safety factor for its operation, (since the building blocks of it, found within the atmosphere heights, could never fall-back to Earth's surface due to their inherent buoyancy,) such as in the event of a catastrophic severing of the structure, since it is buoyant by nature, maintainable and redeployable.
Let me call your attention upon the fact that this system, although not as sexy and popular as the CNT tether might be, it can be also regarded as a “Plan B” if, for whatever unexpected reason, the CNT tether could not be constructed.
To differentiate our system from the better known centrifugally counterbalanced CNT tether Space Elevator; our system goes by the more fitting name of a SpaceShaft. The name of SpaceShaft is more fitting because of the shape of the structure since at its core, i.e.; within the flue of the tubular structure that could allow for relatively faster, bi-directional, shuttle, (or shuttles). At first; traveling assisted by buoyancy and subsequently, when buoyancy becomes insignificant, perhaps by some electromechanical traction system that gradually would take over. Such as an electromechanical system could work perhaps by means of clamping pads or sprocket wheels acting against either the sides of the shaft interior wall or against to a central cable, or chain, extended from ground-level upwards onto the ceiling cap of the shaft.
This combination will make for a faster and much more conventional elevator system. For example if space vehicles where to be transported up to the summit of a SpaceShaft these could then be thrusted away by built-in conventional rocket technologies or perhaps by a catapult mechanism aiming them towards their intended spaceway from where they should be able to autonomously travel towards their final objectives.
Another interesting characteristic of the system is that an internally housed cable would be simultaneously extended during the upward shifting movement of the deployment process and without consuming fuels or using other technologies that do so.
Before describing the tasks necessary for the deployment and operation of a SpaceShaft I would like to differentiate the verbs of constructing, (something like a building,) and deploying, (e.g.; a cable, a blanket or our own SpaceShaft). We prefer using the verb of constructing when we refer to the assembly of architectural constructs that are mainly static and are assumed to eventually be finalized according to a predefined plan. On the other hand because a SpaceShaft is a very dynamic structure, not only due to the interactions it has with the environment in which it has to exist but also the interactions with other constituent parts with which it has to function, we prefer using the verb of deploying. This is especially true because the process of putting together a SpaceShaft may have a starting-time but not necessarily a final end-time.
When we claim that a SpaceShaft is a dynamic utility is because the constituent part of the shaft(s) is/are are buoyant and intrinsically make up a unidirectional elevator system that moves primarily upwards. This unidirectional, upwards movement is comparable to the logistic protocol known as F-I/F-O [*] because the top section will eventually be detached from the section immediately below as to become what could be called real-estate in space. This of course implies that “detached sections” above the Kármán line will have to be relocated by means of some form of rocket propulsion to a convenient location and that gas within the inflated vessels is removed and replaced by some matrix/filler such as a PU foam as a matrix and a (at this time) undefined filler.
Click here to view an animation on how the SpaceShaft is deployed from below pushing upwards.
A SpaceShaft is constituted from building blocks functioning as buoyant scaffolding elements. Because of their shape we call these building blocks HyperCubes and these will be discussed elsewhere. Because of its size and the induced tubular shape, a SpaceShaft can also be used as a building having accommodations located at suitable intervals. And no; it is not a building that has to support its weight creating compression loads on its foundations as is the case with buildings made from mortar-and-bricks, or towers, such as the well known Eiffel tower. And yes; we do use lighter than air components for its assembly and operation, so it shall certainly float at significantly dense atmospheric altitudes. And "yes"; we are aware that beyond those altitudes, where buoyancy is not possible, the structure will have to support compression loads.
As suggested above; the system is like a jacking-up mechanism that would be moving upwards constantly and probably infinitely if needs be. And it is intended to be extended throughout the low and high atmospheric altitudes up into even the vacuum of LEO [*] and perhaps even beyond, if the structure is tailored for such an objective.
Although it can be clearly catalogued as a true space elevator, we do not seek to dismiss the more popular system of a tensioned CNT tether. But, perhaps, marry both concepts into a hybrid system. Therefore, fitting a much more traditional concept of an elevator system, that is; a system having within its flue a cable with a car traveling bidirectionally on the vertical plane, see Drawing 2
Click on the image for a larger sized image (Flash) Because of its moving parts being powered by buoyancy, a SpaceShaft is a very dynamic structure, but it also has other interesting properties that will facilitate easy access to near orbital elevations. One of these properties is its high tonnage capacity that will allow the transport of cargo such as space vehicles and construction materials. Another property is its rigidity, which, when combined with a mooring and anchoring systems, it makes up a structure capable of withstanding very strong winds in much the same way as antennae will behave under similar conditions, see Drawing 1. Although the building blocks are lighter than air they still have a skeleton which becomes a scaffolding system when combined with the other building blocks. Launching of the mentioned spacecrafts is done by either perpendicular or axially orientations. When launched perpendicularly, it is done on a similar fashion as that of launching a Pegasus XL when carried by a Tri-Star aircraft. This method is amply discussed elsewhere by third parties and described at other internet sites such as Wikipedia; suffice to say that this launching method is a proven technology. For this, the SpaceShaft will need to provide a launching and deployment facility at its summit. Perhaps as a possible boarding station, which will be fitted to support the launching operations of space vehicle, and with a gantry-crane for the deployment of a cable/tether of CNT, or of other material, that could afterward be further extended well into GEO by means of some other method. Needless to say that a SpaceShaft could be employed for more immediately needed applications, such as telecom antennae, (or as the mast for a umbrella system,) or a tubular upright, that could support observation platforms, aimed at the monitoring or counteracting of climate change. Since all these desirable claims may sound at first a bit far fetched, and therefore may call for immediate dismissal for being apparently absurd, I will encourage you to read further and know more about the concept. Let me underline that all the possible applications mentioned before are based on one of the most important properties of a SpaceShaft, that is; its high potential upthrust. Afterwards, once you have reflected upon the claims; you will see that the basic explanations do make sense, and that these can be related to your own experiences and observations of the world in which we all reside, and therefore achievable if there is a real need.
The SpaceShaft is an application of what we call a “combined method of construction and transportation” [CMCT] . At http://spaceshaft.orgI explain, qualitatively, but in more detail, its attributes and the typical deployment method by which it is to be raised up into Space. Below are some short descriptions of how the method of deployment is carried out.
In a nutshell what we intend to do is to harness the limitless source of gravitational acceleration of our planet, (which as you may recall from your schooldays; is a form of energy,) and by doing so infinitely push-up our scaffolding like structure into space. By the interaction of the different densities, a process can be put into action that could be compared to the mechanism of an hydraulic-jac.
We harness this gravitational energy by means of the buoyancy effect mainly within the planet’s atmosphere but not exclusively. When we speak of summing up the localized forces-of-buoyancy, what we are basically saying is that by harnessing the gravitational energy at different elevations of the imaginary air column being displaced, we are incrementing not the velocity but the upthrust force that the structure can inversely produce. That is; Earth's gravitational acceleration is being efficiently harvested by a means of harnessing buoyancy, as in the case of a spar-buoy being semi-submerged in water, pretty much like huge oil-rigs do.
The medium of transmission of this energy is by means of the density differences that exist between the atmospheric gases and those of lower density, like He or H gases, contained within the wall of the structure. And just by varying the volume of the imaginary column we can increase, or regulate, the upthrust the system will provide. Our calculations have shown that just by means of harnessing the atmospheric pressure of an air column; thousands of tonnes can, in constant flow, be upthrusted into space.
A SpaceShaft is a structure assembled from LTA components and is ultimately intended for the transport and housing of cargo up into high atmospheric elevations or launch assisted operations [*] at LEO altitudes. Because of their LTA nature, assembly of these components would have to be done in a sequentially controlled and in somewhat uncommon assembly sequence.
Metaphorically speaking, the general procedure for the deployment of a SpaceShaft could be described as being that of the opposite method used for the construction of a traditional mortar-and-brick chimney. As an example for this metaphor we will compare both the conventional method of building a chimney and that of a simplified description of the procedure of deployment for a non-telescopic, single-shaft, SpaceShaft.
Note: For this description we will assume the construction of a tubular chimney.
Typically, when building a chimney, construction workers involved in the job will first lay down a circular foundation of bricks, from which every new row will be sequentially added on top of the previous laid row. From this repeated process, two important properties are the expected resultants, namely that: with every newly added row, a new elevation is reached, secondly; weight is increased with each new brick, (acting as filler,) and mortar, (acting as the matrix,) of the pile. This is a process that is reparative for a duration of time, i.e.; until the height, or completion, of the construction is attained.
Assuming a pre-existing LTA ring is being kept from flying away by means of anchor lines. Under this conditions a new LTA ring is then assembled right underneath the pre-existing one as if it where being grown, (that is attached and secured,) to the one on top. Once the newly formed ring has been completed and properly secured to the top ring, both rings are permitted to rise again enough as to allow for the insertion of a third ring. And so on it goes, with every subsequent ring until the desired elevation is reached.
The important result here is that, beside the increment of height and volume, there is an increment on the upthrusting force due to buoyancy which repeats itself with each and every new ring inserted. Consequently, moving up sectional rings at the top of the stack at elevations where buoyancy has dissipated and the mass of the structure becomes weight. However, since we know that there is enough atmospheric pressure as to overcome the weight we see from the dynamics of the system that the 3rd Newtonian law (transmissibility) applies. This upthrusting force, inherent to the SpaceShaft, can be regarded as the counterpart to the inherent weight of seen in the brick-and-mortar chimney of the example.
As it can be interpreted from the above description the deployment concept is even well suitable for other atmospheric and space applications. These are also discussed at the official website.
The simplistic geometrical description of a SpaceShaft is that of a floating tubular buoy. However, scaled to the size of a thousands of building floors and being buoyant unusual dynamics are a source of new applications. SpaceShaft structures will be likely to have diameters averaging 100's of meters, and extending up to the heavens for at least 100 km in length. Let me underline that buoyancy is one of the most significant properties of the structure therefore anchoring, mooring and ballasting systems will be needed to maintain an upright orientation and will remind observers of antennae. The use of active anchoring systems happens at its base and is intended for restricting uncontrolled upward movements during assembly and deployment. Lateral mooring lines are used to counteract deflections caused by wind, Coriolis, etc. Several sets of these are surrounding concentrically the core shaft, but do not frictionally hinder the upward movement of the structure. The distributions of these concentric mooring lines are at various elevations and are attached to buoyant platform hubs. If viewed from the top downwards the pattern distribution of the mooring lines will remind the viewer the spokes distributions on bicycle wheels.
Therefore and metaphorically speaking, a SpaceShaft is designed to behave as a spar-buoy, (that has one-half of it submerged into water, while the other half rises up out into the air). In the case of the SpaceShaft, the floatation effect is generated incrementally during the assembly and deployment process. And the behavioral correlation of a SpaceShaft to such a buoy design consist on having one-half of it “aiming into space, while the other half is submerged within the planet’s atmosphere”. Establishment of this resulting upright directed buoyancy is achieved by controlling the combined actions of the inherent buoyancy concentrated below 50 km of altitude, and by giving whatever necessary slack to the anchor lines located at the base of the system and are secured to the planet’s surface. The provision of slack is dependent and the insertion of new sections, and these are reciprocally dependent for every new buoyant section added, i.e. some of the mooring lines are extended, while others sets are attached and others detached.
Please note that for simplicity I have not described in the above paragraph, how “ballast control” works at low elevations and the appearance of “pure weight” becomes real after buoyancy stops to exist, something which becomes significant above 50 km of altitude, where there is no more air pressure to produce buoyancy or upthrust, and their interactions will modify the general behavior and operation of the system. Also, note that the description represented gives just but a static outline of the structure. This static description does not take into account other mechanisms such as continuous assembly and deployment do produce a constant upward movement, which can ultimately be used as a unidirectional transportation method.
Drawing 1. Global view of a proposed SpaceShaft. The central upright line is a scaled SpaceShaft with a diameter of 100 meter and an elevation of 100 kilometers. The concentric circles represent the perimeters at which the mooring lines are anchored. The outmost circle has a radius of 50 kilometers. The yellow lines are the actual mooring lines.
Here below are shown in proportionally scaled distances the length of a CNT tether SE between Earth and the Moon.
Below are shown, at proportionally scaled distances, a
CNT tether SE a SpaceShaft and some important orbits.
you can download the PDF versions of these images clicking here.
On our planet helium depletion is not a product of the imagination; around the world it is a very real fact that haunts many scientists and industrial users. Among typical uses for this gas; He is needed to cool down vital systems such as those of found on medical equipment. Furthermore, its use for novel greener transportation systems involving airships is no longer regarded as an option due to its prohibitive cost. And right up to telescopes, both on earth or in space, and these may become the exceptional users if He is only to be extracted from Earth based sources. Finding other sources for the benefit of humanity is imperative and will greatly promote not only our endeavor but other industries. A bit as with energy form space He from space may be the solution for future generations.
Although He is the 2nd most abundant substance in the visible universe, it is a rare gas on our planet. This is due to its low atomic weight which makes it the second lightest substance. The general idea is that when helium finds its way out from a container to the freedom of the atmosphere it becomes a lost for ever substance since it appears to escape into Space and so to never be again at hands reach for humanity's benefit.
However, helium like any other gas has mass and while under the influence of gravity it also has weight which helps in differentiating it from other gases by a layered entrapment.
What this means is that He must get held back by the gravitational force of our planet and it is to become trapped at specific altitudes from where it should be possible the tasks of its harvesting and retrieval. Although the technology is still unknown it is however imaginable and such technology could be housed by SpaceShafts at the proper elevations.
Remember that a SpaceShaft is to encounter some atmospheric drag, however small, at high atmospheric altitudes. This drag will consist of particles similar to those that any spacecraft, like the space shuttle or any satellites, do encounter during their visibly colorful atmospheric re-entry. Studies have indicated that most of these particles include the lightest gases such as He and H.
However, the impacts by such particles are to be of a much lesser energetic level due to the much lesser rotational velocity a SpaceShaft is to have, i.e.; equal to that of Earth's angular rotation and not that of a satellite that needs to compensate loss of altitude, due to gravity, by means of tangential velocity.
Those particles are often seen by the astronauts as plasma. While from other vantage points; as auroras during geomagnetic storms. At this time I don't have the necessary proof to sustain these claims but it is based on anecdotal references and pictures, and it could be reasoned that the above mentioned plasma is either that from Helium or Hydrogen.
If a SpaceShaft is to collect the He during its rotational journeys it will have to be done by trapping the molecules over a long period of time. This could be done (perhaps) by laterally mounted panels, and somehow sucking the gas into piping systems for it then to be directed into containers and the final transport back to ground elevation on our planet.
At the last Eurospaceward conference (Luxembourg, December 4 and 5, 2010)I suggested colleagues working in developing long strands of CNT to find a temporary solution consisting instead of closed loops of already available short strands. The short strands can then be arranged like links in a chain and subsequently into a long mesh which will resolve the immediate problem of cable length. This can be done by using the van der Waals forces that keep the molecules together.I wish I had the money to do/pursue this line of research myself. However, since this is beyond my purse I hope other scientist will pick up the challenge which would benefit not only the SpaceShaft and other technologies but especially the LiftPort design since their system is critically dependant of the requirement of trustworthy CNT cable.
Some years ago, when I heard about the CNT Space Elevator and the currently popular design using ground based lasers, I could not help myself thinking about the challenges of relocating an asteroid, transporting the CNT spools to space, the down to Earth deployment, and the many other issues with anchoring, laser targeting, maintenance, ..., etc. so I went looking for reasonable solutions to the obvious impossibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in anyway dismissing the popular system of Earth and asteroid anchor, tether, car and laser system. However, pretty much as how the system is proposed, i.e, a combination of technologies, so I believe shall become to be the "end result". So if a space elevator is ever to be constructed, my invention is just but a series of solutions to resolve some of the inherent problems of the popular CNT tether space elevator. In fact, as it is with many other things, probably some of the proposed systems shall become enhanced or entirely replaced by other better suited systems.
After all, that is the reason NASA called upon the private and public inventiveness to this challenge! The reason why I am introducing myself at this website, and disclosing (some) information contained within the patents I’ve applied for, is because a space elevator is such a monumental endeavor, impossible to be done by just an individual and if I, like many others wishing to see a "functional space elevator" constructed during our lifetimes, not only I need to share with others in their endeavors but hope for their reciprocity. As stated above, doing what I’m trying to do, cannot be the work of a one man only, neither should the benefits of such a system be in the hand of a few, but instead humanity! Particularly at these taxing times, in which humanity is at a fork on the road; that is, humanity’s destiny is to face climate change, ecological disintegration, and some other minor problems like the current recession.
Worth mentioning is the fact that, beside the space elevator application itself, my method of combined construction and transportation can have other more earthly applications; perhaps in the field of atmospheric sequestration of green house gases, or of power generation by the “stack effect”, etc.. At this time, the SpaceShaft is still in its theoretical stages, and because I am avoiding the financial overhead a company imposes the endeavor is not formalized within a such a framework. Much of the prototyping cost has either been financed by myself or by friends, to whom I am very grateful for their trust.
Working with me have been two other professionals, whom initially did the peer review of my claims, and whom I now consider to be rightfull holders to the titles of co-inventors and shareholders of a future business. These are eng. Patrick Vankeirsbilck and Prof. eng. Dean Vucinic (VUB). I am also delighted to announce that this year brings some new people on-board; Prof. dr. eng. Francis Berghmans (VUB), eng. Thomas Geernaert (VUB), eng. Alan Klanac (TKK Helsinki) and physicist Matin Lades. Their CVs, (unlike mine because I'm not that distinguished,) are easily found by doing an internet search, or even better, by going to our website (my apologies for being so lazy and secretive). On the 5th of December 2009, we presented our findings and proposed solutions at the Euro-Spaceward conference 2009 held in Luxembourg. Our claims have been received with surprise and (welcomed) skepticism from our peers, which are now avidly chewing at our proposals.
I certainly hope that our team becomes more extended including professionals in other domains that we really need to fulfill for the constitution of a full fledged organization.
For the convinience of every visitor I am making every effort to provide easily available references. These will be mostly from sites like Wikipedia, universities, space agencies, PDFs, etc. This choice is because these references are easily accesible through hyperlinks.