General Planetary Vehicle

The General Planetary Vehicle (GPV) is a geocosmic multiuse vehicle for non-rocket industrial exploration of near space. It is made in the form of torus covering Earth in the equatorial plane and providing industrial cargo and passengers’ return transportations from Earth to the equatorial orbits. It is developed based on only possible (in the physics view) environmentally friendly geocosmic transport technology providing minimal energy intensity.

  • Per 1 flight this vehicle will be able to put into orbit about 10 million tons of cargo (250 kg per 1 m of the hull length) and 10 million passengers (250 people per 1 km of the hull length) that will be involved in the creation and operation of the near-earth space industry.
  • It will be able to go into space up to 100 times per year.

GPV description

It will take about a million years for the modern global rocket and space industry, in which trillions of dollars have already been invested, to achieve what the GPV can do during 1 year. At the same time, the cost of delivering each ton of payload to the orbit is currently several million USD per t., which is several thousand times higher than in the GPV operation.

  • GPV design

The GPV body is a cylindrical ring that encircles our planet in the equatorial plane. Gondolas with cargo and/or passengers are attached to the outside of the GPV body while the belt flywheels are placed inside, driven by magnetic suspension systems and linear electric motors in the forward and reverse directions.

Figure – GPV design:

1.1 and 1.2 – belt flywheels; 2.1 and 2.2 – magnetic suspension and linear electric motor systems; 3 – casing; 4.1 and 4.2 – containers with cargo and/or passengers.

Specific features of the GPV flywheel propulsion system and requirements to it

As for the GPV, the magnetic suspension system, like in the magnetic cushion train drive, is designed to exclude contact of the moving belt flywheel with the linear components of the GPV structure, primarily with the vacuum channel walls. Herewith, the design of a geocosmic vehicle with a length of about 40 000 km and a mass of about 40 million tons imposes some specific requirements.

During the prelaunch stage of a geocosmic flight, while on the runway, the belt flywheel accelerates to speeds of 10-12 km/sec., exceeding the first cosmic velocity (7.9 km/sec). The lifting force created by the belt flywheel rotation around the planet is directed from its center, i.e. vertically upwards at each point of the equator, and should exceed the gravitational force. Such an excess of the lifting force depends on the following: the height of further ascent (the higher the orbit is placed, the greater the excess should be), the efficiency of the belt flywheel electric drives and other upcoming energy losses during the flight, in particular, the aerodynamic drag on the atmospheric section of the movement and energy losses related to the ballast discharge and other changes in the total flight weight. To avoid involuntary lifting, the body should be fixed on the overpass with special locks along its entire length.

In the first phase of the flight (after simultaneous opening of the locks along the entire overpass length) the GPV will begin the ascent to the specified height with gondolas attached to its body, carrying passengers and cargo. The diameter of the GPV toroidal body will increase in size – from the initial values equal to the Earth’s equatorial diameter, to the final values equal to the diameter of the near-Earth orbit, to which the flight is made. Thus, the GPV will deliver cargo to an altitude corresponding to the placement of a low circular near-Earth orbit.

An essential condition under which the cargo can be considered delivered to a circular orbit is its movement around the planet at the first cosmic velocity (7.9 km/sec.), since only in this case it becomes an artificial satellite of the Earth and can be left there in a free orbital flight (in a state of weightlessness). That is why during the second stage of the GPV flight, the belt flywheel begins to be slowed down by its linear motor, which has switched over to the oscillation mode. In the meantime, the GPV body with the attached cargo receives an impulse in the direction of the flywheel movement, gradually increasing the speed of its rotation around the planet until it reaches the first cosmic velocity for the specified orbit at a preset altitude.

The first and second phases of the geocosmic flight are carried out simultaneously according to a special program as per the route assignment, which is drawn up for each flight, taking into account the load weight, external conditions in the atmospheric section of the route (air temperature, wind, rainfall, etc.), and other factors. The return of the GPV to Earth is performed in reverse order.

Another (the second) belt flywheel is needed for efficient transmission of momentum and moment of impulse between the belt flywheels and the body with cargo. The braking of the first flywheel is due to its linear motor, which has switched to the generator mode. In such a case, the released energy can be not discharged into the surrounding environment, but used to accelerate the second belt flywheel. Its acceleration in the opposite direction will provide effective energy recovery, while transmitting a double impulse to the GPV body with cargo. Thus, the top performance and high overall efficiency of the GPV will be achieved when carrying out a geocosmic flight from Earth to near-Earth space by obtaining an orbital speed equal to the first cosmic velocity.

The weight of two belt flywheels should be sufficient so that at the initial (obtained on Earth) speeds of 10-12 km/sec., not much exceeding the first cosmic velocity, the necessary reserve of energy, momentum and moment of impulse required to enter orbit only due to the internal forces of a closed system, without any force interaction with the environment, appears inside the GPV.

Considering the cosmic velocities of the belt flywheels and the inadmissibility of their friction against the air environment during the GPV flight in the lower dense layers of the atmosphere, they should be isolated inside the vacuum channels with a safe distance to the walls.

The operation specifics associated with the elongation of all linear elements of the GPV structure (body, magnetic levitation system, linear electric motor, etc.) by 1.57 % every 100 km of the ascent above Earth’s surface, impose another significant requirement – to structurally provide the possibility of extending the geocosmic vehicle by up to 6.5 % (for the case of the ascent to near-Earth orbit about 400-km high). The principal approach to meeting this requirement is a linear layout of the entire GPV structure and its systems using two types of the segments: the main functional ones of stable length (the first type) that will be separated at a certain spacing by special elongated modules (the second type) carrying communication lines of all the GPV on-board systems, including power and communication channels.

The greatest difficulty in solving the problem of elongation is caused by the GPV casing, vacuum chambers, magnetic levitation, and linear electric drive systems, as well as the belt flywheels, which are linear-continuous elements in their design and have a tensile force load. This means that their elongation is provided either on the basis of elastic structures (including silphons, flat, and disc springs) or due to movable joints. At the same time, the belt flywheels can be assembled without the use of special elongated segments and increase in their linear dimensions only due to the elastic properties of special materials, including superconducting composites and permanent magnets. As for the magnetic suspension and linear motor systems, their segmentation is not particularly difficult, since the division into modules will be similar to the movement of several rolling stock along a common circular route.

Subject to the requirements important for any aircraft such as lightness and reliability of the design, the most suitable system of magnetic suspension and linear electric motor for driving the belt flywheels is the EDS technology of self-stabilizing electrodynamic suspension using superconducting magnets cooled to cryogenic temperatures. The driven belt flywheels move at speeds exceeding the first cosmic velocity and cannot be used to accommodate the complex systems and direct link with them is impossible. Herewith, the superconducting magnets with their cryogenic cooling system should be located on the side of the GPV body, where all the on-board functional devices are located.

GPV construction

The GPV development includes 5 main parallel vectors of work (the implementation period: 20—25 years (from 2020 to 2040—2045).

  1. 1. Research and development work (R&D) in the following areas:
    • “5-in-1” runway equatorial overpass combined with UST transport and infrastructure complexes.
    • Transport, logistics, industrial, residential, energy, and informational infrastructure.
    • General Planetary Vehicle.
    • Transport, infrastructure, and industrial complex in orbit, including new space sectors – industrial, energy, information, and residential.
  2. 2. Development and construction of the equatorial GPV launch overpass, as well as buildings, structures, and infrastructure (industrial and residential complexes, power plants, power transmission lines, control and communication systems).
  3. 3. Production and installation of the GPV (40.382-km length; total weight without payload can reach 30 million tons, upon implementation of one of the possible options), commissioning work.
  4. 4. Construction of the Equatorial Linear City as a transport and logistics complex of the geocosmic transport system, deployment of the equatorial linear industry within the “city limits” as an earth component of the space industry.
  1. 5. Arrangement of flights, in particular, coordination with civil and military technical aerospace agencies all over the world; collection of space debris that poses a threat to the GPV and created space industry (should be started in advance, with the help of the rocket technology that gave rise to it); adjustment of international air and maritime legislation, and so on.
Cost of GPV implementation

The total amount of capital expenditures to implement the general planetary transport system providing the GPV flights, is estimated at USD 2.2 trillion, including: R&D – USD116 billion, creation of the GPV (with the above features) – USD 750 billion, the starting overpass with initial infrastructure – USD 1.3 trillion, the land-based part – USD 200 billion and the oceanic part – USD 1.12 trillion. In addition, the cost of electricity for the irreducible kinetic energy reserve of the flywheels lift the GPV own weight without a load will ranging to USD 16 billion; and it is also considered as capital expenditures.

Conditions for GPV to enter near-Earth orbit

Prelaunch preparation

Before launching the GPV, the linear flywheels should have a sufficient kinetic energy reserve to lift the entire system of millions of tons to a preset orbit in accordance with the following energy losses:

  • Aerodynamic drag in the atmospheric section.
  • Losses in the magnetic cushion and linear electric motors.
  • Energy consumption for stretching the length of the GPV ring as it ascends and its diameter increases.
  • Energy consumption for lifting the system (GPV) to a height of h₀.
  • Energy losses during the return descent to the planet (if there is no energy recharging in orbit and during the descent stage).
Required conditions

To provide the GPV with starting electric energy, it is more expedient to have own power plants, which will allow to distribute the energy within the geocosmic system at a net cost of about USD 0.05 per kWh. Therewith, the additional energy can be taken from the network of countries in the equatorial belt of the planet, where the GPV launch overpass will be located.

The cost of the total energy Е₀ required for the first GPV launch will be: 420 billion kWh × USD 0.05/(kWh) = USD 21 billion, and the specific one (upon the total payload of 10 million tons) will be equal to USD 2100 per ton. Moreover, once accelerated, the flywheels can rotate inside the vacuum channels for years, because a magnetic cushion on permanent magnets, like vacuum, will not create resistance when they move at cosmic velocities. This means that the energy consumption for the second and subsequent GPV flights will be associated only with a part of the total energy proportional to the cargo carried, as well as with internal energy losses which are estimated at no more than 10 % and, in theory, can be reduced to 5 % and even to 2-3 %. In the case when the GPV begins to rise up, it will transfer energy to the Earth’s cargo, and when descending, as the falling water of a hydroelectric power plant, on the contrary, the cargo from space will transfer its potential and kinetic energy to the GPV. After the creation of space industry, the main cargo flow will be carried out from space to Earth, and the GPV will stop spending energy and begin to generate electricity transmitted through the cargos from space, operating, among other things, as a giant equatorial dynamo with a total capacity of about 100 million kW.

  • Switching on the magnetic suspension flywheel system and connecting the GPV linear electric motors (drive) to external sources of electrical energy.

    After that, the flywheel belts, which do not experience resistance (because they are in vacuum), start moving along the vacuum channel, and, accordingly, along the body, while rotating around the planet with the axis passing through Earth’s center of mass.

  • When the flywheel belt covering the planet reaches the first cosmic velocity in the vacuum channel (at zero altitude in the equator plane, it is equal to 7.9 km/sec., at an altitude of 400 km — 7.67 km/sec.), it will become weightless.

    If we accelerate the flywheels to an even higher speed, there will be an excess lift force sufficient to raise the entire GPV complex with the payload to a specified orbit.

GPV is ready to take off

After obtaining the belt flywheels calculated speed, the GPV is kept from lifting along its entire length by means of special ganglocks installed on the supports of the overpass. After the cargo loading and accommodating passengers in the suspended gondolas, the locks release the hull along its length.

Since the flywheels are accelerated to speeds that ensure the excess of centrifugal forces over the weight of each linear meter of the GPV, each linear meter of the vehicle covering the planet begins to move from the center of the flywheels rotation and rise vertically upwards in the equator’s plane. The GPV ring will symmetrically increase in diameter in all directions relatively to the center, and its body will lengthen and stretch. According to the law of conservation, this giant ring’s center of mass will always coincide with the planet’s center of mass.

  • GPV rise

    Acceleration of the vertical ascent into space depends on the centrifugal forces excess. For example, if the lifting force acting on each linear meter is 5 % greater than the weight of each GPV linear meter, then its body will begin to rise up with a comfortable for passengers’ acceleration of 0.5 m/s², or equal to 5 % of the free fall acceleration. When moving with this acceleration, the GPV will rise (expand in the equator’s plane) to an altitude of 100 km in 5 minutes and 16 seconds and will have a 570 km/h vertical ascent speed at this altitude.

  • When rising every 100 km above the ground, the GPV body should lengthen by 1.57 % (as well as it diameter should also behave so), that can be easily achieved through structural and technological solutions, for example, telescopic joints along the length between short sections of the body, or using of spring (silphon) compensators and other well-known and proven techniques.

  • After leaving the dense layers of the atmosphere (at altitudes of more than 10 km), the linear electric drive of the flywheel belt, accelerated on earth to cosmic velocity in the direction of the planet’s rotation, is switched over to the brake (generator) mode. The electrical energy generated is directed to accelerate the second belt flywheel in the opposite direction. As a result, the GPV body receives a double impulse and begins to rotate in the direction of the planet’s rotation. If the acceleration of rotation is the same comfortable 0.5 m/s², then the hull and all the cargo attached to it (including passengers accommodated in the gondolas) will gain the calculated orbital, i.e., circular, speed, for example, equal to 7671 m/sec. (for an altitude of 400 km) in exactly 4 hours.

  • The modes of increasing ascent and orbital speed are selected in such a way that at a given altitude, for example, equal to 400 km, the GPV has an orbital speed (that is, 7.67 km/sec.) and is in balance — its vertical speed would be equal to 0. For this, a special ballast system is used, if necessary. Environmentally friendly substances, such as water and oxygen (compressed or liquefied), are used as a ballast. If the ballast is sprayed in a predetermined amount in the planet’s ozone layer and above (altitudes from 10 to 60 km), it will be possible to regulate the oxygen and ozone content in the upper atmosphere, as well as to manage the weather and climate on the planet in an environmentally safe way.

Unloading and disembarking of passengers

After reaching the specified orbit and stabilizing the GPV along its entire length (that means the absence of any local fluctuations relatively to the ideal orbit), it is being unloaded and passengers are disembarked into the orbital circular complex stretching around the planet.

The load capacity of the GPV is 250 kg/m or 10 million tons. This is enough to start the creation of the Industrial Space Necklace “Orbit” (ISN “Orbit”) around the planet Earth even during the first GPV launch.

Net cost of geocosmic transportation by GPV

The stability of indicators of the net cost of geocosmic cargo and passenger transportation by the GPV was analyzed according to the following initial data: different flight rate per year, different charge capacity of unidirectional cargo flows, and incomplete charge capacity of a single flight per year. The calculations were made for two energy tariffs – the purchased one (USD 0.05/ (kW·h)) and the partnering one (USD 0.02/(kW·h)).

For a single flight per year with the full loaded GPV in both directions with the use of purchased electricity, the net costs of lifting and lowering cargo will be USD 1,111 per t and USD 68.8 per t, respectively. For two such flights per year, the net cost of ascent and the cost of descent (it will be already negative that means an additional income) will be equal to USD 861 per t and – USD 182 per t respectively. For 50 such flights per year, the net cost of ascent and the descent income, as noted above, will reach USD 620 per t and – USD 422 per t, respectively. When the own electricity is consumed at the reduced tariffs, there will be an almost proportional reduction in the net cost of lifting. So, for one, two, and 50 flights per year, it will be USD 798.7 per t, USD 548.3 per t, and USD 307.8 per t, respectively. The change in the energy tariffs does not affect the net cost of the descent, because the energy is not consumed during the descent, but is generated and then sold at a fixed market price of USD 0.05/(kW·h) (according to the feasibility study).

The analysis also considers the net cost values for a single flight in both directions of the GPV loaded by 10 %, 2 % and 1 %. Even with such a small loading of the GPV as 1 %, the net cost of lifting goods that amounts to USD 59,539 per t will be almost 17 times lower than the presently standard tariff for lifting goods which is about USD 1 million per t.

Economic effect of using GPV

The economic effect of using the GPV for geocosmic transportation on the Earth–Orbit–Earth route is determined by the difference in the cost of transportation between existing launch vehicles and the GPV. This difference is about USD 10 million per t (at the lowest average prices for the cargo delivery to orbit by rockets).

During the first year of the GPV operation, when about 100 million tons of cargo will be delivered into orbit, the economic effect will be USD 1,000 trillion (including savings of USD 10 million results from the delivery of each ton of cargo to orbit). This effect is expected to grow over the years.

The presented calculations consider only the material component of the products production and delivery.

The volume and net cost of geocosmic transportation by the GPV for the first 20 years of the operation (the optimal option of the geocosmic logistics)
Year (since the beginning of the GPV operation) Annual traffic volume, million tons Components of the unit cost of the geocosmic transportation of a ton of cargo, USD/t Cost of transportation, USD/t, (-) – profit
Into orbit To Earth Cargo energy Loss energy Wages Depreciation and amortization Other

1

100

10

429,55

190,91

90,91

55,2

7,5

774,06

2

200

50

315

168

40

55,2

7,5

585,70

3

300

100

262,50

157,50

25

55,2

7,5

507,70

4

400

150

238,64

152,73

18,18

55,2

7,5

472,25

5

500

200

225

150

14,29

55,2

7,5

451,99

6

500

250

175

140

13,33

55,2

7,5

391,03

7

400

300

75

120

14,29

55,2

7,5

271,99

8

300

350

—40,38

113,08

15,38

55,2

7,5

150,78

9

200

400

—175

140

16,67

55,2

7,5

44,37

10

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

11

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

12

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

13

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

14

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

15

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

16

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

17

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

18

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

19

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

20

100

500

—350

175

16,67

55,2

7,5

-

95,63

Total: 4000 7310
The analysis of the data given in the above table provides the following conclusions:
  1. 1. The net cost of geocosmic transportation using the GPV at the rate of USD 775 per t during the first year of operation is determined subject to significant energy consumption for the initial spin-up of the flywheels, as well as a relatively small annual volume of transportation.
  2. 2. During the next 2—7 years, as the volume of transportation will increase (both from and to Earth), the net cost will decrease.
  3. 3. During the 10th year and subsequent time of operation, when the return cargo traffic (from the orbit to the planet) will significantly exceed the direct cargo traffic (from the planet to the orbit), the net cost of the transportation will take negative values. This means that the GPV will become profitable not only as a means of transport, but also as a giant linear kinetic power plant with a length of more than 40 000 km, with two belt flywheels of the total weight amounting to 10 million tons, which is capable of recuperating the potential and kinetic energy of space cargo into electrical energy.

A more detailed feasibility study of the project is presented in the EcoSpace program.

Impact of GPV on the economic development
  1. 1. Creation of a new generation infrastructure along with the modern, advanced, highly efficient, and environmentally friendly transport, capable of putting about 10 million tons of cargo and up to 10 million passengers into the orbit by one flight, that would take more than 10 000 years for modern space industry.
  2. 2. Obtaining a higher-quality product of the space industry compared to the terrestrial production.
  3. 3. Consumption of cosmic raw materials: mining of iron-nickel ore, platinum, cobalt, and other minerals on asteroids, their subsequent delivery to Earth orbit.
  4. 4. Active use of solar energy and other cosmic energy resources.

It is also worth to note, that it is impossible to consider the effect resulted from improving the quality of life on Earth, stabilization of the ecological situation and whole Earth’s biosphere, creation of conditions for future unlimited human development which will arise due to transition to the cosmic stage of development only from a financial point of view.

The General Planetary Vehicle, proposed by Astroengineering Technologies LLC, is based on an environmentally friendly geocosmic transportation technology that can provide any cargo and passenger traffic to and from orbit. Herewith, only the GPV is capable to save Earth’s civilization from extinction and death.