Surface Transit Way-Stations would be evolutions of the telecommunications relay satellites deployed, initially from early Beam Ship transport vessels, to support continuous telecommunications links to Earth for the pre-settlement telerobotic outposts. Some eventually growing to manned space stations, they would serve the simple role of buffering the increasingly asynchronous transportation between the lunar/planetary surface and transorbital transit across many arrival/departure windows.
As our solar system develops a robust transit network with advancing settlement and asteroid exploitation, we will see many logistical analogs to travel in the Age of Sail. The solar system is quite the complex clockwork. From any particular point, departure ‘windows’ to elsewhere in the solar system are dictated by the complex motion of planets along with the orbits and trajectories of other vehicles and structures. As noted previously, a kind of trans-orbital ‘highway’ of optimal gravitationally assisted transit trajectories exists within the network of orbits of natural bodies in the solar system and exploiting this for speed and economy of transit will be key to routine space transportation. Sophisticated computer modeling combined with open exchange of tracking information through telecommunications will be employed to help schedule and manage vessel transit.
Larger transorbital vessels may take any number of days to assemble or de-part their payloads and for the Cyclic Transport –those large continuously traveling vessels that are virtually mobile orbital habitats– this may be performed by inter-orbital shuttles or self-mobile cargo pallets/containers accessing the passing vessel during a limited ‘transfer window’ dictated by their cyclic transit path. Synching all this up with the launch of surface shuttlecraft from different points on a moving moon or planet could become difficult, especially if there are any delays caused by vehicle or equipment failures. Thus it’s likely to eventually become necessary to employ structures on which to ‘park’ cargo and passengers as they wait to sync-up with other transit.
Like most of the smaller orbital habitats and structures of the Asgard phase that have their origins in MUOLs (modular unmanned orbital laboratory), MUOFs (modular unmanned orbital factory, and MOFs (manned orbital factories), the Surface Transit Way-Stations would, essentially, be simple space frame truss beams or planes to which the rest of the systems and components making up the station would attach as modular interchangeable components. Large amounts of their surface area would be dedicated to external cargo pallet and container storage using quick-release attachment and exceptionally long multi-jointed versions of the MUOL’s InchWorm robots would be employed to assist transfer of cargo to vessels that may never actually dock with the way-station but station-keep within ‘arms reach’. Early stations are likely to employ no more than a single long box frame truss as the core structure, concentrating active systems and solar power at one end, simple Transhab-style habitat modules in the middle, and using a long ‘tail’ length for cargo handling. Larger structures may employ panelized shielding like that of the larger MOFs and thus assume a tubular or box shape with a regular polygon section which would allow cargo and habitat space to be kept behind this shielding while supporting more complex assembly and de-parting of payloads, repair activity, and the use of tracked cargo movers akin to PPT systems to move cargo between the inside and outside surfaces of the structure.
The largest way-stations would have the potential to grow into full colonies depending on the volume of traffic between their parent moon or planet and the rest of the solar system. This is consistent with the way cities tend to form at the logistical points of intermodal transit exchange, such as road/rail to ship/air. Such large facilities would likely be similar to the EvoHab colonies established in Earth orbit, using the same large built-up light transmitting hull shells around Urban Tree habitats attached to large polar core trusses. As with the Earth orbital and eventually Solar orbital EvoHabs, these could become the permanent homes of large populations, though probably not likely to grow to the same scale because of the emphasis on surface settlement.
These same way-station facility structures would also be employed as the basis of capture stations for the surface Mass Launcher System as well as the ‘upstation’ facilities for Lunar/Planetary Space Elevator Systems.
- Life In Avalon
- Telerobotic Outpost
- Excavated Settlement
- Excavated Colonies
- Surface Shuttle Vehicles
- Mass Launcher System
- Lunar/Planetary Space Elevator Systems
- Avalon Supporting Technologies