Potentially the largest of transport vessels in the Asgard phase, the Cyclic Transport would be predicated on the desire to establish very routine communication of goods and people between key destinations in the solar system at a minimum energy/fuel cost. Sometimes referred to as the ‘inter-planetary highway’, there exists a network of optimal lowest-energy orbital transit trajectories across the solar system based on the greatest boost from natural gravity of different bodies in the solar system. These, of course, are not fixed in position like paths on a terrestrial map. They change and flow with time and orbital cycles of the bodies in the solar systems and so are plotted four dimensionally. During the Asgard period this inter-planetary highway will become critical to the efficient development of the solar system, forming the basis of transit schedules for many spacecraft. The Cyclic Transport would be designed to make the most of this by employing a continuous transit route about the solar system in a ‘cycle’ of many years or decades, establishing a routine transit schedule far into the future. Employing propulsion such as tether systems, plasma sails, and plasma rockets, the vessels would rely mostly on gravitational forces for propulsion and solar energy to correct trajectories, compensate for varying payload, and provide the gentle ‘nudges’ that would let them shift trajectory paths. These vessels would not normally ‘stop’ at any particular destination. They would remain in perpetual transit and be serviced by other transport vessels during windows of nearest approach to destinations.
Travel about the solar system will, for some time, remain extremely time consuming and the Cyclic Transport is likely to adapt to this situation by becoming quite large and incorporating many of the features of a full EvoHab orbital settlement in order to make these long treks as comfortable for passengers as possible –possibly even including gravity deck structures. Passengers would have to live aboard these vessels for months or even years and so they would seek to incorporate the amenities of whole resort towns and the communications and other facilities that would allow people to continue many forms of work during their transit. The vessels may also become home to permanent resident populations that manage and maintain them. They may be established as family or community ventures that exploit transportation as a means to finance the cultivation of their own idealized habitats on board, perhaps settling into permanent orbital positions later to become conventional orbital settlements. (by aiding in the development of key destinations for settlement through transit, they would be in the powerful position of determining and cultivating other locations with strategic advantages for additional settlement)
In design the Cyclic Transport would vary greatly with time, size, and the spectrum of destinations it serves but would generally assume the characteristics of both larger Beamship-type vessels but incorporating very large or large clusters of EvoHab hull structures in more centralized positions along the primary truss beam which serves as core truss for urban tree habitats within these hulls. Since they must deal with a certain degree of acceleration/deceleration forces, they would generally assume more unified and absolutely symmetrical shapes than the potentially sprawling forms of full settlements. And a much greater amount of shielding may be needed for habitat structures. They would also need to incorporate solar power systems with much greater sweep of insolation angles and more redundancy that common with a habitat in a simpler orbit.
A typical design may be based on a three axis truss array with a very large spherical or cylindrical EvoHab hull at its center. The use of the usual EvoHab light transmitting hull scheme may be much reduced for this vessel, limiting it to only diffuse light collection or to discrete but large window portals, the vessel needing to rely much more heavily on artificial light because of its regularly changing orientation. So the space frame support structure of the hull would likely be extended into a very wide and relatively short roll axis cylindrical truss that would become a primary truss structure used as a mount for cargo pallet arrays (allowing the vessels cargo to act as additional shielding for the pressure hull), secondary solar panels and other systems, and large arrays of propulsion systems. A narrower roll axis truss passing through –along with the other two axial trusses– the EvoHab hull as part of its core truss would also be used for propulsion and passenger transfer docking arrays. The vessel may carry its own small compliment of small transport shuttles but would rely primarily on service from those coming from its destination points. On the yaw axis truss would be very large versions of solar panels akin to those use on MUOLs with two-axis articulated mounts giving them a 200 degree sweep of yaw rotation independent of the rigid truss. Power storage systems would be mounted internally within the volume of these solar booms. The pitch axis truss would concentrate articulated communications arrays. A small fleet of InchWorm type service robots would traverse the surface of the spacecraft much as with any settlement structure.
Over time some of these Cyclic Transports may rival full colonies in size and amenities, fabricating most of their maintenance components on-board and becoming increasingly self-sufficient. But they may exist for only a fixed window in time across the Asgard phase, their role as cargo vessels first eliminated by increasingly sophisticated nanotechnology and the use of fabricated on-demand bulk materials transports or conveyor beam networks transporting bulk molecular materials at near-luminal speeds around the solar system via laser. Then, with the advent of fusion propulsion and vessels capable of much shortened transit times, their role as passenger vessels may be lost and they may be relegated to recycling or conversion into permanent settlements.
- Life In Asgard
- Modular Unmanned Orbital Laboratory - MUOL
- Modular Unmanned Orbital Factory - MUOF
- Manned Orbital Factory - MOF
- Asgard SE Upstation
- Asteroid Settlements
- Inter-Orbital Way-Station
- Solar Power Satellite - SPS
- Beamship Concept
- Inter-Orbital Transport
- Special Mission Vessels
- Orbital Mining Systems
- The Ballistic Railway Network
- Deep Space Telemetry and Telecom Network - DST&TN
- Asgard Supporting Technologies