Surface-To-Orbit Transport

Image from Steve Bowers
A waverider shuttle craft, a single-stage-to-orbit scramjet system using the hypersonic wavefront that builds up beneath the wings to ride into space.

Craft and systems devoted to the task of moving sophonts and cargo from planetary surfaces to space and vice versa. This category includes such systems as rockets, aerodynamic shuttle systems, beanstalks, space fountains, and Lofstrom loops as well as many others.

Beanstalk Capsule
Image from Anders Sandberg
A beanstalk- a space elevator system using carbon nanotube materials to raise payloads into orbit directly

  • Beanstalk  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A strong cable (usually polybuckminsterfullerene or some semi-elastic diamondoid) lowered from a geosynchronous satellite and anchored to the ground, often with a counterweight at the outer end to provide some extra tension and stability. It provides cheap and simple access to space using elevators. Most developed worlds have a series of beanstalks connecting the surface with orbitals. Although the effect from a beanstalk breaking and whiplashing around the planet would be quite serious, this has only rarely happened.
  • Exoatmospheric Fighter - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A small planet- ship- or orbital- based hybrid air- and space-craft, usually short- to very short range and armed with lasers and automatic cannon. Crew may include one or two bionts and several dedicated ai, or the whole vessel may be ai controlled. Propulsion is via jet or nanobank turbine for dense or slow atmospheric flight, ramjet or scramjet for hypersonic flight, and chemical, fusion or amat rocket for vacuum propulsion.
  • HELL (High Energy Laser Launch)  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Laser launch system.
  • Landers  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Craft designed to land on a planet; usually a secondary craft or module attached to or carried by a larger interplanetary or interstellar craft
  • Launch Ramp  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Inclined launch ramp supported by large scale structures on a planetary surface.
  • Lofstrom Loop  - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    Dynamic launch loop using a continuous stream of linked magnetic units to raise payloads above the atmosphere for launch.
  • Lorrey Loop - Text by Steve Bowers
    Advanced form of Lofstrom Loop using three geostationary terminii in orbit at the points of an equilateral triangle, and three ground terminii opposite them, connected by a stream of vessels or particles which travel in Hofmann orbits (except when in the atmosphere), thereby saving energy.
  • Omnicraft  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Versatile mode of transport designed to operate and provide accommodations in a wide range of environments from planetary surfaces to interplanetary space.
  • Rotovator  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Device for transferring cargo or passengers from the atmosphere or near surface of a planet to outer space.
  • Space Cities  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Habitats in stationary locations above a planet.
  • Space Elevator - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Another term for a beanstalk.
  • Space Fountain  - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    Vertical stream of magnetically accelerated pellets reaching out into space, where a station held aloft by its momentum reverses the direction and directs it towards a receiver on the ground. Essentially a simpler version of a Lofstrom loop.
  • Vertical Skyhooks and Static Orbital Rings  - Text by Mike Miller
    Orbiting structures that extend above, and below, their centres of gravity.
  • Waverider  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Hypersonic SSTO shuttle craft
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Orion's Arm Editors

Initially published on 31 December 2007.