Mass Stream Technology

Supra black hole planet
Image from Steve Bowers
One of the most impressive applications of Mass-stream technology is the Artificial Planet, actually a kind of Supramundane world suspended above an artificial black hole.

Using accelerated streams of projectiles or particles to either transfer momentum or even support a large structure.

At its upper limits the system can move a planet or even a star in a time span of decades. Another application is in the construction of supra-planetary habitat shells around gas giants or even stars at a level where the underbody generates gravity equal to 1g. Or in building an orbital ring around a planet and using it to support short (approx. 400-800km) skyhooks to provide ground to orbit travel. Or in setting up a network of mass streams to provide rapid transit for vehicles around a solar system. The vehicles magnetically couple to the stream and "ride" it.

Despite the apparent vulnerability of the system to possible power failures, it is quite safe and reliable. Mass stream technology is widely employed in the MPA. Often the sheer engineering beauty of a Lofstrom loop or a mass driver fountain to their aesthetic encourages them to build it.

The most common forms of mass streams are simple iron pellets, although some systems employ more unusual masses. The interstellar catapult mass driver, suitably adapted, makes a perfect catch/throw system for such streams.

Types of Mass Stream Technology

Space Fountains Perhaps the simplest of all mass-beam applications, space fountains consist of a looped stream of massive particles constrained in magnetic fields, supporting a tall structure.

Dynamic Compression Members Using space fountain technology, very strong supporting beams can be constructed to support megastructure elements that would collapse if they were dependent on structural strength alone.

Dynamic Orbital Rings- often called Orbital Rings; used to support infrastructure in orbit around planets and other massive objects, such as stars and black holes. Orbital rings are also used to expand the surface area of a hot object in order to facilitate cooling by radiation.

Suprashells and artificial planets; these shells are supported by arrays of orbital rings, covered by loadbearing landscape surfaces. Suprashells are normally built over the top of planets or stars, while artificial planets are generally constructed over tailor-made black holes.

Lofstrom Loop Supported Arcs Using looped mass streams, Lofstrom launch loops and high intercontinental bridges can be built.

Valles Marineris
Image from Steve Bowers
The Great Canyon Bridge over the Valles Marineris Sea is supported by mass-stream technology

See also Beamed Propulsion
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Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner; additional notes by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 12 December 2001.