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Introduction

The general appearance of our concept will be more like that of a super tall building or chimney, instead of a tether with a gondola or cart. And will probably have shuttles traveling through the flue. In fact the shuttles traveling thru the flue are the counterpart to the gondolas of the CNTT.

When fully deployed, the SpaceShaft will have a far more voluminous appearance than that of a tether based system. The system will not require technologies which are still at their developmental stage, such as carbon-nanotubes, in fact the SpaceShaft can be constructed with conventional “modern materials” and operated easily because it is governed by well known physical laws such that of “buoyancy and materials strengths”.

Another striking feature of the SpaceShaft is that it has a flue, just like that of a tube. A tube provides its natural “buckling resistance” with “minimal mass”, and the added benefit of protection and “guiding walls” which are convenient for a shuttle to travel through. This makes the geometry quite an attractive candidate for convenience and safe operation.

In comparison to the current proposed concepts for a “space elevator”, which is mainly based on a “carbon-nanotube tether”, (in which the tether is the main feature), the SpaceShaft as a whole could be constructed from a variety of materials, ranging from Kevlar, polyethylene, aluminum, “composite ceramics” and “many others”, making the structure also of a very feeble mass. However it will in return produce a fantastic lifting capacity with minimal use of manufactured resources or investment.

As stated; a “major operational characteristic” of these type of buildings is that they are buoyant, or floating in the liquous like environment of the atmosphere. As a metaphor for illustration purposes, they can be regarded to behave as a collection of balloons forming a tube that is perpendicular to the planet’s surface. By using this metaphor, it can easily be calculated the lifting capacities of the SpaceShaft at both heights; within the atmosphere and well above into space”.

As suggested in the previous paragraph, the “building blocks” of the SpaceShaft; are “objects that are buoyant in our planet’s atmosphere”, therefore transforming the (vast) surrounding pressures from the atmosphere into “kinetic energy” and powering the upthrust of the whole structure. Compare this source of energy to the (weaker) and localized “electromagnetic sources” needed for a “beamed method”, which are the ones currently encouraged. These building blocks can be somewhat categorized as “traditional objects”, mainly because of their “macroscopic geometries” but also because of the methods by which they can be mechanically manufactured and interlocked during the assemblage into the SpaceShaft structure. Our proposed construction methodology has another significant advantage; consisting of the fact that our system is being built; “from the ground up”, instead of; “from outer space down”. This later model, used by the CNTT  as a “descending cable”, has enormous imponderables; such as those that could be of the random “lateral forces” which could cause ruptures of the tether while being deployed.

However; these “building blocks” of the SpaceShaft are not actual balloons! Particularly when regarded from the “encyclopedic definition” of what a balloon is. The definition of a balloon is basically; “an hermetic and elastically deformable membrane, inflated presumably with a lighter than air gas for its buoyancy”. Instead, our “building blocks” are rigid, or semi-rigid, objects, that have no need for the use of LTA gas to achieve their buoyancy. N.b.: we do not describe here these “building blocks”, or the material(s) from which they are fabricated (sorry).

Another property of the SpaceShaft; “as a building”, when contrasted to a “column of balloons”, are the properties of rigidity and “the resistance created by the cumulative force of the buoyancy”, to the lateral forces. These “lateral forces” could evidently cause deflections on the structure and can be characterized as wind. Winds that could affect the SpaceShaft are found within the distances of “0 meters, or sea level, to about 12 km” of altitude. This distance is not a particularly big distance or challenge when compared to the distances proposed by the CNTT concept. To enhance the stabilization of the SpaceShaft within the Troposphere, (0 to 20 km in altitude at the Equator,) we will try to implement “secondary anchoring systems” that could counteract these “low atmospheric” events. These anchoring systems, will act like the rigging systems of a “ship’s mast” with a “fore-and-aft” arrangement, and will be differentiated from those used to control the ascension process of the SpaceShaft.

As suggested, our method of construction is somewhat similar to that of building a chimney. But instead of “stacking up” bricks at the very top of what has already been constructed, we will insert new building blocks at the very bottom, displacing upwards other blocks laying on top. Of course this “inserting method” is possible because of the buoyant nature of the proposed shaft. To control all this buoyancy; beside the ballasting effect generated by the contained cargo, there will be, at grown level, “controlling rigs”. These rigs, together with winches, will harness the “residual upthrusting force”, which are the forces that further propel the upper sections. N.b.: The remaining “upthrusting force” must be sufficient to push the upper sections, with their cargo, from mid to high atmospheric altitudes. I.e. from about 50 km, where buoyancy has substantially diminished, due to the thin atmospheric environment, to distances beyond the official height for the separation of “atmosphere and outer space”, i.e. 100 km, a region in which  vacuum is the environmental constant. A manned “operations control”; will be in charge of maintaining the weight to upthrust ratios.

Unlike the tether based Space Elevator, the constituent parts and materials with which the SpaceShaft is to be constructed, need not to be transported to a “outer space” endpoint for its construction. Instead they are assembled right down at ground level, therefore reducing the cost of their transportation and special deployment.

These buoyant buildings have a series of “added benefits”, which are:
1. Distribution of the “tremendous interacting forces” that any type of “Space Elevator system” will have to structurally endure during operations. This “energy release” will happen by distribution in such a way that the forces will be more humanly manageable and should be discussed in detail later and elsewhere.
2. Concerning security: The “inherent buoyancy” property; this property will be particularly useful in the event of ruptures caused by the crash of an aircraft, or that of a “large meteorite”, in the event of the shaft being severed into two, or more, sections. Therefore preventing other “catastrophic events” such as that of a complete collapse. This because the sections of the SpaceShaft, or other large parts of it, will remain “buoyant and easily re-attachable”. As a consequence; producing little collateral damage to neighboring landmarks from large falling debris. Also; compare this result to the enormous losses that could occur if a tether based system is stricken by similar events.
3. Also due to the “inherent buoyancy” of the system; maintenance should be a snap. Unlike with the tether based system, where maintenance would be very difficult, maintenance on the SpaceShaft would be executed routinely, and at any altitude, by means of either external or internal gondolas or temporary scaffolds attached directly to the SpaceShaft.

As with regular buildings, the SpaceShaft will be used for “storage of materials”, also will be capable of containing the “life supporting systems”, needed for the housing a biological habitats. Externally they will be resistant to the outer space environment.

During the construction of one of these shafts, beside the storage capability they immediately provide, they will also provide an “inherently and simultaneous” “method of transportation” while being built. They will be capable of transporting “millions of tons”, upwards to the higher altitude regions of our planet’s atmosphere, and into “outer space”. As said elsewhere; eventually the upper sections of the shaft could be detached and jettison to specific orbits for their use as real estate.

Our proposed superstructures will not be “static systems”, but will be systems with a inherent; “unidirectional transportation mechanism”, from “Earth’s surface” up into space. However, the flue of the shaft will allow for the fast, “bidirectional passage” of shuttles. For instance; making importation of “raw mined” materials, down to the Earth’s surface a dream come true.

These structures will not only be capable of supporting their own weight but also that of “altitude stationary”; “launching platforms”, and/or; “specialized facilities for housing other technologies”, such as those necessary for the sequestration of “Air Pollutants” that produce the “Green House effect”. For instance; these processing platforms could be located at “desired altitudes”, to house catalyzers or other mechanisms capable of gas separation, and the “storage processing”, prior to hauling and disposal at safe “outer space” destinations. We could envision many other applications for the SpaceShaft, but these are not presented here due to the constraint of space.

Although the current competitions for the X-prize organized by the SpaceWard foundation have only focused on the tether system other methods such as that of the SpaceShaft could be proposed.

Providing a integrated, inherent and simultaneous system; we believe that our proposed “methods and systems” could be viewed as a more “down to earth” proposal for the construction of “extremely tall buildings” and a more efficient “method of transportation” when compared to the current CNTT space elevator.

Here we boldly claim that:

1. That a structure can be built that will accomplish the dual goals of simultaneous “vertical transportation” and “building construction” that will reach into interplanetary space.

2. That the up-lifting capacity of this system is vastly superior to that of any existing hauling or transportation methods, including the most powerful rocket or giant crane ever built.

3. That this system will harness cumulatively, one of the strongest forces that our planet provides, namely; that of gravity.

4. That this system can be built using commonly used materials and technologies.