Saturday, January 26, 2008

TE Base Station Concept

ORIGINAL CONCEPT: Sea Anchor for Tether Terminus.
Up-Link Tether and platform is in foreground; dedicated Down-Link is in background, located far enough to ensure no interference between the tethers, perhaps 500 km. (Source Document).
TETHER is a Carbon Nanotube (CNT) ribbon from the surface up through GEO Node (35,780 km up) and further up to the Apex Anchor, 100,000 km above the surface of the Earth.

TETHER REEL Tether terminates in a reel with considerable tether material. With reel-in/out capability, Base Station can quickly make minor adjustments to tether tension:
Reel Dimensions:  Assume 6 m wide with max of 2 m diameter can handle 80,000 km of tether.
Spooling Speed should be fast enough for a reasonable deployment time, but slow enough to control the tether tension (assume max of 1,000 rpm).  EXAMPLE: If reel is half full  (assume 1 m diameter); then, spool speed might be as fast as 3 km per min or 180 km per hour; sufficient for minor adjustments, not nearly quick enough to reel in entire tether.  If tether completely severs, best case scenario states: what can't be reeled in, burns up in atmosphere.  More realistic scenarios are discussed in later chapter.

TETHER CLIMBERS must mount the Up-Link tether and use solar power to energize inline motors to grab and repel up to the at 35,789 km altitude, As Up-Link climbers go higher, Earth gravity decreases greatly; so climbers could use relatively small motors. At 220 kph, expect Up-Link trip from surface to GEO Node to take about 7 days.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT (TE) CONCEPT: Leverage Lifeboats to the Max
If lifeboat concept proves viable and reliable, then, discard all Down-Link climbers; and use the lifeboat as the Down-Link vehicle.
As described in previous "Lifeboat" chapter, Down-Link trip could reduce from 7 days to less than an hour.  Down-Link Base Station would need to include a particle accelerator (as shown in figure) to send a stream of particles at 10% light speed (c) to exchange momentum with the Down-Link vehicle's magnetic field for about last 200 seconds of flight.  This should start vehicle's deceleration at lower LEO (about 200 km above surface); so, atmospheric reentry should be uneventful.  Final landing onto the ocean would likely be assisted with chutes and jet packs.

HOWEVER, both the original concept base station and TE concept have many features in common.
 CONCEPTS IN COMMON: Most Original Base Station Features Also Apply to TE Concept.
1) Location:  Servicing a Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) Node means Base Station should be very near the Equator, and many equatorial locations would work. Indicated location (off west coast of South America) has mild weather conditions (wind, waves, and lightning).  As a  wide area in the mid-Pacific with rare human contact, collateral damage from inevitable accidents are less likely.  Open ocean environment greatly simplifies any negotiations needed for the base station.
2) Logistics: Base Station will include several Floating Operations Platforms (FOPs), specialized vessels.  Cruise liners provide excellent quarters and office space.  Cargo vessels will have material-handling equipment such as cranes, forklifts and conveyors. Aircraft carriers and perhaps oil rigs could also contribute.
Payloads will include large and delicate items. Some payloads may include hazardous materials such as rocket propellants.
Positioning Requirements:  FOP's mobility yields an advantage over land-based anchors. They easily adjust their position via a combination of thruster and sea anchor reel operations.
3) Safety and Security:          
 Physical security will involve equipment for surveillance and active threat mitigation by dedicated personnel.
 Fire Safety: Firefighting capability must be provided even with no facility power. This might include: emergency power generators, pressurized water reservoirs or other means.
③ Man-made hazards may include the unintended release of pollutants from Base Station FOPs or even nearby vessels.
 Hostile Threats: Audible and visible warning signals will define keep-out zone. With extensive defensive capabilities, combined operations staff and security personnel can provide robust defense.
TE CONCEPT: Add Source for Stream of High Speed Particles
Seawater is an abundant, source of Deuterium atoms which can fuse for a safe and clean energy source.  Same kind of fusion energy powers our sun and other stars. Deuterium is readily extracted from seawater; it occurs in about 1 per 2,500 water atoms. HOWEVER, development of fusion energy requires production and confinement of plasmas.  At 100 million° Celsius, plasma is far too hot for any physical container. Fortunately, these charged particles are readily handled with magnetic fields. 
TE proposes a particle accelerator as shown in adjacent figure. Plasma storage center would likely completely submerge with ready access to many tonnes of seawater to harvest deuterium atoms for fusion power and hydrogen ions for particle stream leaving each arm at about 10% light speed. Number of accelerator arms could range from just one to many.
Diagram shows only a few in series of alternating Radio Frequency Accelerators (RFAs) and Super Conducting Magnets (SCMs); however, actual arm would more likely have dozens to hundreds. SCMs would likely require very little power to maintain magnetic field; however, SCM coolants and RFAs might require significant power.
Assume accelerator arm exhaust port is above surface and emits both ions and electrons.  Negative electron beam attracts and leads positive ions in ion beam.
Forgo Down-Link's physical tether; 
exclusively use lifeboats 
to travel Down-Link Virtual Tether back to Base Station. 
However; Down-Link Base Station 
will need an extra capability.
Lose the Down-Link tether.
Gain the Particle Stream
 to decelerate the vehicle for a soft landing.


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