Humanity has no experience of industrial development of near-Earth space. And what should be the space industry? What are its functions, what are the amounts and types of manufactured products? Where, basically, will these products be consumed — in space or on Earth? A lot of questions can be asked. And it is impossible to give definite answers on them. Everything will depend on the specific paths of development, which our civilization on Earth will select. The civilization embarked on the technocratic way of development thousands of years ago. Yet we, the living, did not choose in the past particularly this path of intellectual development of civilization and we are not in power to change this vector in the future.
Primitive technologists and their tribesmen, stuffing skins and preparing food over a campfire, died at the age of 20 from lung cancer. Until they thought to bring these technologies out of their house — from a cave.
Tens of thousands of years had passed. And here modern production designers and their countrymen argue passionately about what corner of the rooms of our common home, called "Biosphere", must be used for building a nuclear power plant, and what corner shall be used to bury its radioactive waste for thousands of years. Where billions of tons of steel should be smelted and where coal, oil and natural gas should be produced. And then — where and how will they be burnt? Where should carbon dioxide be disposed of and how should the roof of their house, the ozone layer be "safely" destroyed? And they even get the Nobel prizes for that. And finally, how can they "ecologically pure" do dirt not only in the corners but in the center of these rooms, without asking the opinion of the majority of residents — not only third world countries, but also the dumb creatures, called "flora" and "Fauna".
There is only one outcome. We need to wind up our brain and courage of a primitive man and take out the environmentally hazardous industries beyond our biospheric home, which is in the nearest space. There are ideal conditions for the most modern technologies there — zero gravity and high vacuum. A natural ecologically pure thermonuclear reactor called the "Sun" works year-round, day and night, for the past 5 billion years there. This reactor will provide extraterrestrial industry with energy for millions of years of subsequent development without any side effects of the "Chernobyl" type. . There are endless commodity, energy, technology, and spatial resources there.
Moreover, there will be no ecological problems from the biospheric point of view in space — dead industrial waste cannot change the ecology of the same dead environment. Even the explosions of super new stars is a common thing there, which is difficult to imagine. What can be changed in space by a plant, smelting some billion tons of foam-steel per year, which is lighter than water, but it will be stronger than regular steel and will serve to humanity on Earth without traces of corrosion for hundreds of years? Or a plant that produces several thousand tons of unique medicines that can be obtained only in the conditions of zero gravity?
There should be objective reasons in the future to move the sphere of material production almost entirely in space. At the same time, humanity as a biological species of living organisms on our planet, is the product of several billion years of evolution on our Earth. We are ideally adapted to Earth's gravity, Earth's atmosphere, magnetic and electric fields of Earth, Earthly food and other things of the Earth. We even do not think about it, but cannot exist without it not only today but in the foreseeable future. Nowhere in this vast Universe for us, people of Earth, there cannot be a more suitable environment than on our beautiful blue planet. Therefore, the main consumer of products of the space industry will be on Earth, and this means billions of people. For this reason, the traffic on the route "Earth — Orbit — Earth" must be millions, and eventually billions of tons of cargo per year.
Of course, having mastered space as a new environment with conditions that are fundamentally different from those that we have on Earth, part of the humanity, who wants to live in space, will transform itself under these conditions over time. However, unlike fish, which in prehistoric times went out on the land and eventually brought about the emergence of man on the planet, space man will evolve consciously. However, this is a very remote perspective that can not be perceived by a rational understanding.
In the entire history of rocket space exploration not more than 500 tons of cargo annually was carried out into the orbit, and that is the average altitude of 300 km. One horse harnessed in a good cart will perform the same transport work on the planet (up to 500 tons per year at a distance of 300 km). Just like one cart will not be able to serve the transport needs of 7 billion people (let's try to remove mentally all traffic from the planet, except for one cart), in the future the one and only "space wagon" will not be able to serve the needs of the space industry, confined to the needs of billions of people of the Earth. In addition, it will be very expensive — the total expenses exceed a trillion dollars for 56 years of the space age (a cart, made in the form of a diamond, would cost much cheaper). Delivery of 1 ton of cargo into the orbit by a carrier rocket will not cost less than USD 10 million. Moreover, it is estimated that about 100 launches of heavy carrier rockets of the American "Space Shuttle" type a year (and it is not more than 2,000 tons of cargo per year) will lead to irreversible negative environmental changes, including those in the ozone layer of the planet. In this regard, the Russian carrier rocket "Proton-M" is not better. It bears hundreds of tons of fuel (heptyl) — more toxic substance than, for example, potassium cyanide.
The situation will not be improved by the "Space elevator", which is being developed in our days by the specialists of the American space agency NASA (the idea of the elevator belongs to the Russian scientist K. Tsiolkovsky and Russian engineers Y. Artsutanov and G. Polyakov). It is a self-supporting ribbon-like cable with a length of about 100 thousand km and a mass of not less than 1 million tons of heavy-duty material (stronger than steel by thousands of times), attached to the equator of the planet at one end. It will annually deliver not more than 2.5 tons of various cargoes to the orbit. That means that it will be only 5 "space wagons" at the unspeakably expensive cost — just like made of diamonds.
We do not know how space technology will develop in the future. We do not know the future discoveries either. Such forecast is unseemly, and, in general, meaningless enterprise. To verify this, suffice it to recall the naive scientific predictions made 50 or 100 years ago. The only thing we can say with full confidence is that whatever the technology appears, it will obey the fundamental laws of material Nature. Such laws, repeatedly proven in practice, will remain valid in the future. In mechanics these laws include four laws of conservation, which summarize all other private conservation laws, namely: laws of energy, momentum, angular momentum and motion of the center of system’s mass. All modern transport is designed under these laws— carts, bicycles, cars, trains, airplanes, helicopters, rockets. And the future space transport will not be an exception.
Optimization of space transportation system, based on fundamental laws of physics, has led the Russian engineer A. Yunitsky in 1977 to the creation of a perfect solution — a planetary transport vehicle (PTV). It is the one and only self-supporting aircraft, made in the form of a torus with a cross-section of several meters, covering the planet in a plane parallel to the equator (see, for example, part 2 of the monograph "Global vehicle", the book is in Russian). Such vehicle will be able to bring millions tons of cargo and millions of passengers to the orbit per one flight. And the cost of delivery to the orbit will be less than USD 1 per kilogram. That is, the cost of a passenger ticket to the orbit will be about USD 100, with the comfort of travelling better than that in modern trains.
To perform the same amount of transport work, which will be done by only one PTV trip, modern cosmonautics would need about 60 thousand years. That is, the launches of first space shuttles had to start in prehistoric times, when Neanderthals learned how to yield fire.
The planetary vehicle is the only technical solution by which a transport system is able to deliver loads to different circular Equatorial orbits without the use of jet engines. And the only solution that can use the most environmentally friendly "principle of Baron Munchausen" for exit into space, as during the operation of the PTV position of its center of mass does not change in space. Due to it, the vehicle can go out into space, using only the internal forces of the system, without any energy, mechanical, chemical and other kinds of interaction with the environment, that is, it will be extremely environmentally friendly. Moreover, at cargo traffic "Space — Earth" exceeding return traffic "Earth — Space", the PTV will be able to function in the mode of "perpetual motion". Excess kinetic and potential energy of the space cargo delivered to the planet, will be sufficient for the following start of the PTV from the planet to the orbit (each "extra" ton of cargo, ecologically cleanly launched from the orbit to the earth's surface, will be is equivalent to 5 tons of oil by its energy capacity).
Only the stretched filament with infinitely small transverse dimensions relative to the length (a ratio of 1:10,000,000) can be a sustainable self-supporting construction. Therefore, PTV is a type of string transport technologies, otherwise this "wheel" with the diameter of more than 12 thousand km and only a few meters in cross-section, would lose stability in the orbit. It is from this project that in the same 1977 RSW-technologies (string ground transport) "spun off". During the optimization process, the author had to simplify the flyover and make it less costly. The PTV was supposed to start from that flyover into space. Optimization led to a pre-stressed (stretched) construction of the flyover, on which it was only left to put a rail vehicle and provide the corresponding rails.