Dynamic Orbital Rings

Orbital rings suspended by dynamic, mass-stream technology

Dynamic orbital ring
Image from Steve Bowers
These paired orbital rings consist of a single, flexible mass of silicate fibre coated in magnetic material; other mass-streams use individual mass-particles which can be individually controlled magnetically

To construct a planetary surface-to-orbit fixed elevator it is necessary to have a stable end point in space to locate the upper terminal. For many planets this is the so-called geostationary orbit (GO) where the orbital speed is the same as the speed of planetary rotation. However many moons and tidally locked planets have a slow rate of rotation, making the GO very distant.

Sometimes one of the stable Lagrange points is convenient for a very long space elevator, especially as these points of stability are often the first off-planet areas of a solar system to be developed with orbital habitats.

Another system is the dynamic orbital ring, a solid ring in a lower orbit (LO) which remains stationary relative to the planet or moon by thrusting against a ring of particles which are continuously recycled. Keeping the rotating ring moving at very slightly higher than orbital speed for that height allows the stationary ring to maintain altitude. The ring can be prone to sideways instabilities so ion thrusters are used to keep station.


Venus after terraforming
Image from Steve Bowers
Terraformed Venus is surrounded by a Dynamic Orbital Ring, mosty constructed from carbon extracted from its original atmosphere

Space elevators can be then suspended from the ring, building inwards on each side at an equal rate to maintain balance. Elevators built in this fashion are considerably shorter than elevators that extend to stationary orbit.

Variants

Some orbital rings support biological frameworks, such as the Noovelean tree, a space-tolerant planet that surrounds its planet, trailing vine-like elevators to the ground. The provolved arachnids of genus Hobo Sapiens and Aranea cosmoi are famous for their web-like elevators that stretch from orbital rings to the ground, supporting spider colonies and habitats for other species.

Suprashells

Supra black hole planet
Image from Steve Bowers
Supra-black-hole worlds are constructed on a framework of dynamic orbital rings above an artificially produced, planetary mass black hole. The size of the planet is optional, as is the surface gravity; the worlds can be much smaller, or much larger, than planets with similar surface conditions.
More applications of mass-stream technology are described here: Space fountains and Orbital Rings

 
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 07 July 2002.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Paul Birch Archive at Orion's Arm