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Published:August 1998
  • Nathan Wilson
Origin:4 August 1998

This document describes a conceptual design for a transportation system which could be built to carry passengers into space for tourism. It’s futuristic only in that it has not been built yet. It does not rely on warp drive or any other magic technology, but rather adapts concepts developed or proposed for NASA activities.

The system is based on a "space elevator" and space hotel in low earth orbit. The hotel would orbit 775 miles above the earth, and would suspend a space dock 160 miles above the earth, via a hanging tether. Passengers and cargo would be brought to the dock by a new suborbital reusable launch vehicle, and would travel up the tether via a space elevator. The launch vehicle latches onto the dock, and is carried back to the launch site. The dock moves at only 79% of orbital velocity, which greatly improves the payload capacity of the launch vehicle.

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