A VISION FOR HUMANITY
By Roger Fritz, 4-1-06
If you could invent a cheap way to get into space, you'd be richer than Bill Gates.
The natural place for human beings to live is outer space. And I can demonstrate it. The things we need the most are already there. One of the things we absolutely must have is room to live, space for neighborhoods. Another is energy, and there's plenty of free solar energy out there. Another is matter, and there's plenty of dirt, minerals and water floating in orbit. Another is a frontier, and once we get into space we will have a frontier forever.
Tha natural use for a planet as precious and irreplaceable as the Earth is for people to take vacations on. No one should live here fulltime but the Park Rangers, Forest Rangers and cleanup crew.
The disadvantage the human race is facing right now is that we live at the bottom of a gravity well, and we don't have a cheap way up into orbit. Burt Rutan is building rockets to take tourists into space, and they burn rubber and nitrous oxide. They're practical right now, but they'll never be a cheap way into space.
For that, we're waiting on the research scientists who are working with superconducting magnets. They aren't developed yet at room temperature, but when they are we will be able to build space trains. A space train will look like a giant, shiny, segmented needle hovering in the air above a superconducting track. It will be filled with people, and then fired off the end of a 100-mile track at orbital speed: 18,000 miles an hour. For the cost of the electricity to accelerate it.
When it comes off the end of the track, the space train will be travelling so fast that it will melt from air friction. Rather than using tiles like the Shuttle, the train will borrow some technology from the navy.
The navy found a way to make torpedoes travel impossibly fast underwater. How'd they do it? The torpedo emits air from its nose, which streams back along its sides, so that in effect the torpedo is travelling in a bubble of air. This is called the super-cavitating torpedo.
The space train will do the same, only it will emit plasma from its nose. This will enclose the train in a bubble of plasma, and protect it at orbital speeds.
The orbit the space train will be thrown into will be an odd one. It will be an eliptical orbit, with the farthest away from Earth being 30,000 miles (for example) and the closet approach being the starting point at ground level. Something will have to be done in the first orbit to raise the aphelion. The train can carry onboard propellant and use rocket engines to move farther out. Or perhaps space stations in higher orbit can use sling technology to capture the train and catapult it to higher orbit.
The destinations for these trains will be space cities being erected in orbit. They will need people by the trainload, and since all the good jobs will be in space, that's where people will go.
The natural locations for early space cities are the Lagrange points, ahead of and behind the moon and the Earth. These are places of natural tidal stability.
The space cities will be easy to build. Humans need gravity, so they will need to be made in the forms of spinning wheels and cylinders. People need to be protected from cosmic and solar radiation, so the cities will need to be enclosed in shells of water 15 feet thick.
The materials people need are in the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, so at first there will be people who go get these things and bring them back. Later people will move out into the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud to live, and an expanding shell of settlement will spread out from the solar system. Since our Oort Cloud touches the Oort Cloud of the nearest star, people can spread to it and beyond.
If we can last long enough, we may be around to see the death of the sun in 5 billion years, when it swells to a red giant before collapsing to a white dwarf. If we last that long, we'll also see the collision of the Andromeda Galaxy with our own. That starts about the same time our sun dies.
What adventures lie ahead....
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