My name is Holly Marie Schoene and I was born in 1975 in Germany.
I became an electrician but found this to be too boring in time. Later did 3.5 years as a tech support agent for ELSA AG for professional computer graphics and monitors, while doing my Abitur (degree that enables studding at a UNI). I finished as the best of the glass at 1.4. !.0 would have been easily possible if I had actually studied and not just done as little as needed.
I started to study computer science in 2002 but just 2009 broke of my studies for medical reasons and lack of motivation since I never set a real goal.
The medical reasons have to do with me being transsexual and a few issues from my child hood I still struggle to overcome.
Now I wonder if the launch loop may not provide this motivation since I did consider studying physics as well and had the best possible grade (1.0) in it at school just as in computer science.
Ever since I was a young child I have been fascinated with space and space travel. Of the currently proposed space launch systems to me the launch loop is the one with the most promise of success in the near future and the best operating characteristics even if the others were all possible.
It is sad there is so little interest in the launch loop while the space elevator seems to have a lot more design issues but receives a lot more attention.
I guess this is because to most people its easier to understand the concept of the elevator (even one over 100000 km long) than a cable that holds itself up at 80 km with forces they understand a lot less.
The key to success for the launch loop is to show its other applications and a modern adaptation. The loop should incorporate as many applications at once as possible so it will be profitable even if only one application would be used at the moment.
Here are my ideas:
1. Make the loop bridge continents and use it for high speed intercontinental travel while its space launch capacity is not fully needed. This could be done by launching crafts like SpaceShipOne and its followers into the continents and let them land like a sailing plane http://www.scaled.com/index.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceShipTwo
... or by using a maglev train that switches tracks in the middle and decelerates against the drag of the rotor on the parallel track. If the cars are able to hook and unhook to the rotor in intervals they could keep one 1 g (forward) acceleration for half the trip and 1 g (backwards acceleration) deceleration for the 2nd half of the trip. this gives about 1.41 g at 45% to the ground and should be tolerable if the seats are turned to support the passengers.
However currently this would only be really useful if the loop was at higher latitudes (between Europe and North America as well as North America and Asia). For launching this means a higher speed needs to be reached since the rotation of earth is less helpful. As for the weather it would need to be evaluated if the new materials could withstand the weather further north. Carbon nanotubes support cables would be a lot thinner and so present less area to the wind drag.
Snow on the inclines my not be a problem if launches (with lower speeds up the inclines) and/or frequent maglev trains would pass up and down the inclines and heat up the sheath somewhat.
2. Put the two paths parallel and span light weight solar collectors and/or solar nanoantennas (to collect heat energy) between them to power the whole structure. at 1000 W/m² (this could be possible soon) 2*10^6 m * 10 m * 1000 W/m² = 20 GW
at 300 W/m² (currently more relativistic) 2*10^6 m * 35 m * 1000 W/m² around 20 GW
Solar Nanoantennas will be cheap (a few cent/m²) and can convert up to 80% of the available energy from the sun and by night from the earth. "nanoantennas have the potential to be a cheaper, more efficient alternative to solar cells. [...] Nanoantennas, on the other hand, can be tweaked to pick up specific wavelengths depending on their shape and size. This flexibility would make it possible to create double-sided nanoantenna sheets that harvest energy from different parts of the sun’s spectrum.” Still in early development as of 2008 but promising. http://www.inl.gov/pdfs/nanoantennas_science.pdf http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1007
Breakthrough in solar energy: ten times more effective solar power may be available in three years, Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, July 10, 2008 http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0710-hance_solar.html
"The researchers have updated a relic power source developed in the 1970s called luminescent solar concentrator or LSC. An LSC collects light through dyes painted on a transparent surface; the light is then transported across the surface to solar cells at the edge. In the past LSCs have been used with transparent plastic sheets, but MIT's solar concentrator employs glass instead."
"These new LSCs would be so simple to construct that the researchers believe they could be available in just three years. The technology could also be added to already-existing solar panels, increasing their efficiency by 50 percent. Three of the researchers have started a new company, Covalent Solar, to manufacture and sell the new technology."
So the panels would be highly efficient since there is little atmosphere (to reflect sunlight back into space) and it could use most sunlight without heavy and expansive mirrors or mechanics. Also, if the actual solar collectors are at the sides (near the support structure or the middle - away from the heat so superconductors can be used) the effect of micro meteorite puncturing of the panels should be minimal.
3. Could the inside of the sheath be lined with nanoantennas to recollect most of the heat (infrared radiation) emitted from the rotor? If that is possible the over all energy consumption of the system could drop by up to 4/5. It should also help cool the rotor and therefor either allow a higher launch frequency and/or the use of hight temperature superconductors to levitate the rotor if it itself was permanent magnetic.
4. If the structure could support a 100 or 1000 m wide band of collectors and/or if point 3 is possible it could also be a solar power plant. The needed weight capacity could come from using carbon nanotubes instead of Kevlar for the cables. Carbon nanotubes combined with other materials could also make for a lighter stronger sheath.
5. The temperature at 80 km altitude is low enough for current high temp super conductors (around 240 K in some conditions) to be below the threshold for superconductivity. This could help transmit the generated energy to the ground (well at least towards and possible part ways down the inclines) and if the support structure could be kept cool enough it could be used to levitate the payloads and possible the rotor at least at the "vertical" part of the track. http://www.superconductors.org/Type2.htm
Now for the more crazy ideas (or maybe not):
6. Could a launch loop catch and slow down a space craft? The craft would probably approach from the west as for launch. It would need to "land" on the track without damaging it or the loop itself. (not easy but if catching a space craft with a tether seems possible ...)
If it is faster than 14 km/s it will use the track that goes in its direction, "hook" to it and accelerate it and so slowing itself down. If this speeds up the rotor too much the ground stations would drain the energy by using the loop like a giant generator and drawing electrical energy from it, which would slow the rotor down.
It would need to slow down to the speed of the rotor before reaching cross over used for the maglev trains and then it would switch to the track that goes in the opposite direction. Crafts slower that the speed of the rotor would "land" on this track in the first place. There it would (again) "hook" to the rotor decelerate it while decelerating itself as well.
I have no idea how possible or crazy this idea is since I have not found any reference that some one suggested it so far. However if a tether can catch a moving space craft why should it not be possible to "land" on the loop?