This is the FOURTH time I've tried to respond to Mike Combs' post.
what's up with that? lol.
A 1.41 km diameter sphere made of 7.25 million equilateral triangles
with 1 meter sides composed of an aluminum frame encased in a molded
in place (think of an electrical plug) with transparent PET film (the
stuff is great in space) that has flaps that get heat sealed inside
forming a ridge between the triangular frames - and the corners of the
triangles are pinned together with an aluminum joint - and the
aluminum joints are welded to the frames.
The triangles are produced at a tremendous rate 28 per second - in
semi-automated facilities - think of how fast newspapers get printed -
thats how fast rotary molds churn out an engineered triangular window
and joists from molten aluminum and PET. They are actually joined
together in a string - with the flexible PET holding everything
together - and then the triangles are z-folded together on top of one
another - forming a long string, and the string is knitted together to
forma sphere starting at one pole and ending at another. Its how an
old apple peeler works, but in reverse.
The skin is formed as a string,and the string is transported to the
surface and welded in place automatically. The weld head moves along
the string at 24 m/sec (54 mph) - and consists of a rotary welder
(think of a bottle filling machine or canner) that handles several
triangles at a time - and rolls them out at the required rate.
A pile of PET pellets and aluminum ingots is converted into a
transparent 1.41 km diameter pressure vessel in 3 days. Each
construction factory produces 122 vessels per year - 1000 such
machines produce 670,000 in a little more than five years.
Inside the the sphere is a cylinder that is 1 km in diameter and 1 km
tall. Its top and bottom edges of the cylinder touch the sphere.
These rings are attached to the pressure vessel by welding them to the
joists. 3,625 joists are in each ring - 100 rings on each end,
362,500 joists - form an aluminum spaceframe network that supports an
inverted bridgework which in turn supports a line of 1,000 tiles each
1 meter square. 3,141 lines are assembled to create the entire
The same system that made the pressure vessel, is used to assemble the
cylinder inside the pressure vessel. Space frames are cut and welded
together and PET is injected around them in molds to hold him in
easily manage strings. The weld head for the interior then transports
them in place and welds the joists and frame together at the
appropriate angles - building off the 362,500 support joists at either
end of the cylinder. This uses a second welding device, fed by a
second industrial system - to which the sphere (with access port at
one pole) is passed to. This takes three days as well.
Molded or welded in place on the tile string, are pipes and wires for
handling water, air, electricity, and so forth.
When completed, a 314 hectare cylinder forms a flat surface onto which
soil is attached. The sphere is passed to a soil processor station.
Blocks 1 m x 1 m x 2 m - weighing 4 metric tons - are molded into
plastic bags - and joined together in a string 6,280 km long - handled
again at a speed of 54 miles per hour. Slag and other materials
remaining from processing asteroidal materials from ore, are ground
into a powder and mixed with other powders extracted from asteroidal
mass, along with organic compounds created on orbit - to create a soil
like nutrient solution gel - packed in this string of bags. The bags
are connected by a self adhesive surface, and are disconnected from
each other at the 'weld head' and placed end first atop a tile. In the
end, after 3 days of work - the cylinder is equipped with a 2 meter
thick layer of nutrient rich, moisture rich, soil.
This soil may also be pre-seeded with crops when it is formed - with
seeds arriving from Earth farms, or from existing orbiting farms or
3 days in this process - and the station has 12.56 million tons of
soil - which also act as a radiation sheild - held to the tile surface
by adhesive in a plastic bag.
Next a mirror array is installed that shades half the cylinder wall
simulating night, and reflects light onto the other half in such a way
as to simulate day light. The sun rises in the East and moves through
the sky and sets in the West. The intensity of light peaks at 1,000
watts per sq m on a clear day. It follows a cosine curve throughout
the day - starting at zero at sunrise and ending as zero at sunset.
Sunlight at Earth orbit in space is 1,366 watts per sq m. So, this is
taken into account.
So, draw a circle to represent the cylinder wall, and 0 degrees is
noon - a strip along the cylinder wall at zero degrees will be
illuminated with 1,000 watts per square meter by the mirror. The
intensity will fall off to zero according to the cosine of the angle
90 degrees will be sunrise - 270 degrees sunset. 180 degrees is
midnight - the mirror looks like a cone with a dent in it - pushed to
the night side of the cylinder. This is built in a manner similar to
the rest of the system - except the tiles are irregularly shaped and
welded together at angles that change with position to create the
desired effect. The PET film has an aluminum coating that makes it
highly reflective. The whole thing rides on rails installed at either
end of the cylinder - and is driven by electrical motor to rotate
around the cylinder once every 24 hours like clockwork. This takes 3
days to build.
Behind the mirror mechanism, are the mechanisms that cause rain at
night, and harvest and process foods as well as fertilize them and
process wastes. Here the port at the 'dark' pole is filled with an
airlock, and the rail gun with re-entry cans are supplied. Actually,
re-entry cans are manufactured from feedstock left in the microgravity
and vacuum behind the station - attached to it.through a rotary
At this point the station is filled with air, and tested for leaks.
Any leaks are detected and fixed. Water is added to the recycling
tanks. Propellant added to the thrusters. Power is applied to the
mechanism. There is a 3 day testing period. During this time the
station is spun up. This is done with a solar powered spinner
mechanism the station passes into. All the wastes from construction
are made into a find powder and put in a fly wheel type device similar
to a carnival ride
and this flywheel is attached to a solar powered motor. The motor is
attached to the station. The spinner orients the sation toward the
sun,and begins spinning up the station's mass. Waste materials from
all the operations that made stuff that went into the station are spun
in the flywheel in the opposite direction to balance the torque.
When .69 m/sec velocity is reached at the cylinder wall (155 mph) -
about one rotation every 48 seconds - the station is released, and
doors along the walls of the flywheel open releasing the waste powder
into space. This too takes 3 days to achieve.
12.8 million tons accelerated to 69 m/sec in 3 days (259,200 seconds)
requires an acceleration 27.1 microgees and an electric motor set
capable of generating 120 MW. (150,000 hp) nearly double the rating
of large container ships
1000 assembly shops like this would produce 2.5 million agricultural
satellites in 5 years. An additional 1,000 assembly shops - built
during the build out of the ag satellites would help churn out 7.5
million forestry satellites in an additional 4 years.
So, the entire system can be built 9 years following a supply chain
being established from the asteroid belt.
While that is going on green houses and forests on Earth are
established to enter the food markets of Earth, and to provide a seed
crop of sufficient size to feed the coming production system.
Within 22 years of today - by 2030 - we could be supplying all the
world with food,fiber and wood at unprecedented rates - to add to the
endless supplies of energy we provide - all without touching any of
the resources of Earth.
Continuous - but reasonable levels of expansion would provide
sufficient numbers of satellites to provide everyone on Earth raw
materials equal to that of the average millionaire today - by 2045.
The Earth would be a vast residential park with no farms, factories or
cities required. 100 or so historically significant heritage sites
would be preserved at various stages in their history - for future
generations - but with energy, food, clothing communications delivered
anywhere at any time on Earth's surface, combined with telerobotic and
remote work - the need for cities will have been passed.