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A Trip to Princeton to Give a Paper

A Trip to Princeton to Give a Paper

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Published by Jim Cline
Relating one person's experience of a trip to Princeton to present a space technology paper for the first time.
Relating one person's experience of a trip to Princeton to present a space technology paper for the first time.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Jim Cline on Apr 11, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A trip to Princeton in 1995 to present a technical paper
May 12, 1995 J. E. D. Cline, 9800 D Topanga Cyn Blvd #118, Chatsworth, California
Several people have expressed interest in hearing of my experience of presenting a space-related
  paper at the Space Studies Institute's twelfth conference on space manufacturing, held last week at
 Princeton University in New Jersey. So I am writing this description in two forms, a "trip quick" for 
 those interested in just the facts, and a "trip slow" form for those interested in such things as hopes &
 disappointments and photos taken.The "TRIP QUICK" version, just the facts:
My lifelong hobby of conceptualizing space projects came to fruition early this month, when I
 attended the Space Studies Institute's Twelfth Conference on Space Manufacturing, at Princeton. I was
 one of 40 who presented a paper at the conference, probably the only one whohad never even been to
 such a conference before. It was a learning experience for me.... The title of my paper was "Wet-
Launch of Prefab Habitat Modules", one of the Transportation Session papers. Otherslater spoke of 
 such things as robotics in space, teleoperated surgery, nanotechnology microscopic sized machines,
 the dangers and uses of asteroids, wireless transmission of electrical power, and legalaspects of space
My paper started with a brief abstract: "It is proposed here that atechnology be developed to build
 space modules which have a dual purpose, that of being both a prefabricated habitat segment and
 also temporarily being their own fuel tank during launch. Concurrently a re-useable unmanned
 winged engine control tug would be developed for the wet-launch of these modules, along with an
 additional flyback booster. This would provide a way to build economically a largediameter artificial
 gravity space habitat in LEO in which the majority of its structure would be built and emplaced prior 
 to the first human presence there, reducing risk and cost. The toroidal space habitat would be built
 and assembled first on the ground in the form of the dual purpose modules, checked out, then
 disassembled and launched a segment at a time to the orbital site. Such wet launchenables the tan
 and launch vehicle structural mass to actually be part of the payload ...."
The "TRIP SLOW" version, for those interested in experiences:
Going to a distant conference to present a scientific paper, this wasthe first time I had done such a
 thing, never even having gone to such a conference before, so it was a novel experience for me. I did
 it as a volunteer, paying my own way (it cost me overall around $1000, asignificant portion of my
 net worth these days), generally feeling miserable the whole time (due to the lack of sleep and lack of 
 a mate, still no woman in my life, and the trip/conference was not offering meopportunity to meet a
 woman to possibly become my mate), and struggling with the difficulties of traveling alone and fears
 of public speaking residual from childhood traumas. Summary feelings arethat I made a small but
 worthwhile contribution to humanity's potential opportunities in space, needing further effort from
 me; although my personal experience was generally very miserable.
I have been a member of the SSI for several years, as a space enthusiast, now considered a Senior 
 Associate. SSI is the most technically oriented of the associations open to the public,supporting
 small scientific projects on their own without government support. When the conference was
announced, it was different from most in that it invited abstracts from all members, not just those
 withadvanced degrees or corportate scientific positions. Since I had been active in conceptualizing
 space projects as a hobby since about 1971, writing them for the GEnie computer network Space and
 Science Library since about 1988, and having contributed to several invitations for public's technical
 input in space-related compilations such as by the National COmmission on Space, I thought about
 attempting to submit an abstract for this event, too. However, there was a specific way toprepare the
 initial abstract from which presenters would be selected, and the paper itself later had to be submitted
 in "camera ready" form for publication, prior to the conference. I did not yet know therequired
 formats nor have the means to prepare camera-ready material.
I also considered my motivation for going to such a conference so faraway, as it would be very
 expensive and probably thankless and uncomfortable, still having no woman as companion and mate.
 My decision to go was based on several things: perhaps I could meet awoman of similar interests
 during the trip or conference; my re-joining of the Unitarian Church here has produced much activity
 involving social activities including many brief moments of public speaking; and that at the church
 there were some little kids around, reminding me that kids need a chance for a more hopeful future.
The abstract needed to be a brief summary statement of the concept to be present at the conference. I
 wanted to talk of the concept which I have written on most since 1988, but suspected that it would be
 too unorthodox even for the SSI, since even space activists generallytreat such a concept derisively.
 Instead, since this was a very unfamiliar type of experience, and it would be a learned audience, I
 chose to talk about just an early step in the project, a step that would be useful even if my general
 concept for massive space colonization of the Clark Belt (geosynchronous earth orbit) by means of a
 kinetic-energy supported bridge structure circulating between earthsurface and the Clarke Belt, was
 not eventually done. I would present a way to build a prototype space colony of the type envisioned
 for over 40 years, but a way that used existing technology indifferent ways than presently done, so as
 to enable near-future construction of a true artificial gravity, 1000-person, space habitat so as to
 debug the myriad interactions between mechanical and living systems that would happen in a true
 artificial-gravity space colony.
My abstract, and subsequent paper I presented at the conference, was titled "Wet-Launch of Prefab
 Habitat Modules". An acquaintance from the ISSS (Institute for the Study of Systems Science) which
 I attend meetings, Louis Acheson, is a retired aerospace engineer, and heoffered to proofread and
 make useful comments about what I would write. He re-worded the initial paragraph quite well, and
 added an "insider" flavor to the writing which probably got the abstractaccepted for the conference. I
 mailed the abstract to SSI, still filled with misgivings about the possibility of having to actuallymake
 the long expensive trip and do public speaking. And later one lunchtime while at work, the PA system
 called me to the phone: it was Leik Myrabo of the Space Studies Institute, chair of theTransportation
 Session, advising me that my abstract had been accepted for presentation at the conference to be held
 early in May, 1995. I felt a mixture of excitement and foreboding about doing this task.
My paper was limited to the use of "wet-launch" concepts for enabling the relatively safe,
 inexpensive, reliable construction of prototype space colonies in low earth orbit; although I also
alluded to the greater concept of using kinetic structures between earthsurface and the Clarke Belt to
 enable billions of people to live in artificial gravity space colonies ringing the Earth in the Clark Belt,
 22,300 miles above the equator... a concept so "off-the-wall" that nobody yet responds to it at all.
"Wet-Launch" is the concept of building something to be launched intospace, built to also be its own
 fuel tank during its launch. It is said that the 1970's SpaceLab was going to be launched through such
 a technique, but instead was dry-launched when a Saturn V launch vehicle became available due to
 the cancellation of the last two moon landings of the Apollo project, freeing up the two massive
 launch vehicles already mostly built. The other Saturn V was used in the subsequentApollo-Soyuz
 docking in space, which contributed to the easing of relations between the USA and the USSR at the
 time. However, the concept has not yet been actually tried yet. Using a module of a spacehabitat as
 its own fuel tank during its launch seemed to me to be a way to use the fuel tank structural mass as a
 major part of the payload. Each module would be built for dual use, both as apre-equipped modular 
 segment of a wheel-like space habitat, and for temporary use as its own fuel tank during its trip from
 the earth surface up to orbit. Re-useable rocket engine(s) would be temporarily attached to the
 module's underside during the launch & positioning to dock with earlier similar modules into a circle,
 to make the wheel-like structure in orbit. Those rocket engines would be builtinto enough airframe to
  be able to return to the launch site for use in launch of another module, like the Space Shuttle Orbiter 
 now returns, and using much of the same technology. I guessed that even such an efficient launch
 would not be able to achieve "Single Stage to Orbit", I included in the concept another propulsion
 assist during launch, vaguely fulfilling the function of the strap-on boosters of the Space Shuttle, but
 this one would function only in the atmosphere, and would use conventional jet engines as are used on
 conventional aircraft today. This booster would be like a high-thrust jet fighter clamped onto the
 module duringthe takeoff part of the launch, and disconnect from the module while still in the atmosphere and fly
  back to the launch site to help launch the next module. This would bedesigned to serve as both a
  booster and an aircraft, and might be piloted. The re-useable rocket reaction engine module would be
 remote controlled, including being "teleoperated" from people on the groundduring the docking of 
 each module in orbit. This would reduce risk of lives, and greatly reduce the launch weight, making
 larger modules possible.
It had been calculated long ago by others that a wheel-like, toroidal,space habitat needs to be at least 1
 or 2 miles in diameter, to provide the same apparent weight inside the space habitat as on theearth's
 surface, while also avoiding much of the expected disorienting coroilis force effects in such a rotating
 home. Such "artificial gravity" is necessary, in my opinion, to live reasonably normal livesup there,
 and to enable the agricultural processes to use the same crops and livestock as is used on the earth
 surface. (This opinion is not shared by the current powerful space corporations, which proclaim free-
fall weightlessness as being the ideal way to live in space.) If each wet-launched module were 100
 feet long, and 25 feet in diameter, it would take 219 of them to make a one-mile-diameter space
 habitat with a single diametrical spoke (the spoke is necessary to reach the center of rotation, to
 enable entering and exiting the rotating habitat without risking being flung off into space.) Thus it
 would take 219 successful launches and dockings to the habitat during its assembly, or 236 of them if 
 it had a triangle of 3 spokes to its center of rotation. If 14 sets of booster and tugs were part of 
 theproject, and an average of two successful launches per day were made, and no modules were lost
 during the process, it would take only about 5 months to launch and assemble in orbit. A lost module

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