Atmospheric sling, cable system for refueling aircraft and launching rockets in the upper atmosphere

The concept of atmospheric cable systems, terrestrial and air analogs of the space sling. New transport infrastructure for the earth and an intermediate stage in the transition from terrestrial to space transport systems. Inexpensive at the first stages of implementation, and affordable for private traders. A good option for private projects, giving an easy start and eventually allowing you to move from terrestrial infrastructure construction to space.


Rope sling, a promising component of space transportation infrastructure.

Rope slings, long rotating ropes with weights hooked onto their ends, are a promising space transport system. An orbital sling can snag a payload, a modular container with various payloads, or a small satellite and transfer it to another orbit at an acceleration of 1.5, 2 kilometers per second, or more. Without consuming rocket fuel.

In the future, when new stages of practical space exploration, associated with its industrialization, begin to develop. In space, new transport systems will begin to develop, capable of replacing expensive and extremely voracious chemical missiles. On traditional rockets, it is possible to send scientific probes, boxes with instruments into space, but nothing more, it is not realistic to lead the development of the industry outside the earth. Orbital sling, one of a variety of promising, rocket-free, space transport systems.

Now projects of new space transport systems are at the concept stage. States do not support the idea of ​​practical industrialization of space, they are only interested in research to support the status of power. Modern space privateers are too weak and poorly organized. I am one of the alternatives, a supporter of the development of space expansion. Recently, he launched the project of the organizational center for the development of the space industry «Coordination Center for the Development of the Space Industry of Agapov», the purpose of which is the promotion, organization and assistance of the development of private astronautics aimed at the practical industrialization of space. To transform poor and scattered space startups into a powerful global industry capable of colonizing space. The center will work mainly in the information field, by developing and popularizing a strategic plan, a concept for the development of the space industry, and transferring it to private space players and society through publications. With the expectation that private space players will follow the plans that allow them to effectively develop their projects and their businesses.

One of the main obstacles facing space exploration is the high cost and complexity of space activities, creating a gap between the earth’s industry and the industrialization of space. This gap can be bridged through the transition to new technologies, through more complex, multilateral approaches to the organization and through the development of intermediate stages, projects for the transition from the terrestrial industry to the space industry. One of these areas of intermediate projects, between earth and space, is atmospheric tether systems.


Atmospheric cable systems, rotating rotors with long cables used to fuel airplanes in the air and launch missiles or rocket gliders in the upper atmosphere.

Rotary cable systems designed for operation in the atmosphere are rotors with long cables, from several hundred meters to several kilometers, placed on airships, towers or natural elevations.

Atmospheric cable rotors can be used for refueling aircraft in the air. Or for launching various hypersonic vehicles, light rockets, reusable rocket planes, or hypersonic aircraft in the upper atmosphere.

Refueling rotors allow you to refuel aircraft in flight without landing. They can extend the range of aircraft without intermediate landings or expensive air tankers. The rotors are especially well suited for refueling light aircraft, both with conventional engines and battery-powered electric motors. Compensating for one of the main disadvantages of small aircraft and electric aircraft, short flight range. And serving as part of the transportation infrastructure to enhance the capabilities of individual flying vehicles.

By design, the filler rotors are reels with long hoses made of high-strength materials, placed on a rotating rotor. At the ends of the cables, unmanned light aircraft should be placed. The rotors can be located either on airships, or on special towers, on high-rise buildings, or on natural elevations such as mountains or steep hills.

During the operation of the rotors, unmanned aircraft, fixed at the ends of the cables, must circle circles with a radius of several hundred meters. Refueling planes must fly in circles and connect to refueling terminals at the ends of the cables.

Wireline tankers, can refuel planes with fossil fuel or charge batteries for electric planes, or be versatile fuel-electric.

Rotary tankers are the most convenient for light aircraft, and they compensate well for their disadvantage, low range. This is especially true for electric aircraft, since their range is not high and this greatly limits their use.

With the transition of mankind into the space age, individual flying vehicles will actively develop. Since it gives people a high freedom of movement. Allows you to fly anywhere, at high speed. Electric transport will also develop, due to the fact that it is cheap, environmentally friendly, and in the future it will make it possible to transfer the earth’s transport infrastructure to space solar energy. And including electric flying vehicles. Electric flying machines can be vertical takeoff and landing, more convenient to operate. Or have a diagram of classic planes with electric motors. Electric planes are not as convenient as passenger drones, but they are about twice as fast and as far as possible. And the need for runways isn’t such a big drawback

The range of light airplanes with heat engines is usually from 700 to 1500 kilometers, quite a lot, but does not allow to fly freely within continents and between continents. The range of electric aircraft, usually 300, 400 kilometers, is not enough for an aircraft.

Electric planes are good for everyone as an individual transport, they are cheap, the departure price is comparable to the price of a trip by car, they are reliable and do not require complicated maintenance. But the short range serves as a serious limiting factor for them.

Rotary refueling and charging stations, located on busy flight routes, several hundred kilometers apart, could transform light aircraft from a local vehicle to a global one. They are not expensive compared to roads or airfields. You can place them almost everywhere, only noise interferes. Rotary tankers located on airships are mobile and can be placed on any terrain, including in the ocean.

If rotary tankers become widespread, they will cover the entire planet with a net, and it will be possible in a light plane to fly from southern Africa to northern Europe, or from Canada to Chile. Cascades of rotary tankers in the oceans, on airships or barges, will make it possible to fly freely between continents.

The advantages of rotary tankers are that you do not need to interrupt the flight to refuel. Or use expensive airplane tankers.

The disadvantages are that they make a lot of noise, although the noise from light aircraft is not as strong as from large airliners. Rotary tankers can be placed on the periphery of cities. Refueling on the rotors takes time, and with a large flow of aircraft, queues and the need to land on the ground may arise. Refueling on the rotors should be fast enough, about a few minutes. Charging batteries takes longer. Modern electric cars charge from a few hours to forty minutes at a quick refueling. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, the improvement of fast charging technology will reduce the charging time for aircraft to a convenient time, about 15, 20 minutes.

Rotary, cable, refuellers, can also be used for refueling in the air of large liners. But for this purpose they are not convenient. We’ll have to make cables several kilometers long. And flying in a circle is a rather difficult task for a large liner.


Rotors with long ropes can also be used to launch rockets, rocket shuttles, or hypersonic aircraft.

In this case, the fuel flowing through the hoses, inside the cables, must be immediately burned in rocket or air jet engines. And planes, or rockets attached to the ends of the cables, should not refuel, but accelerate to high speed, due to the supply of fuel from the rotor.

The advantage of such acceleration with the help of the rotor is that the vehicles accelerated by the rotor start at high speed, with full fuel tanks. The rotor can accelerate vehicles to a speed of 1.5, 2 kilometers per second, 5, 7 times faster than sound.

For light rockets, rotor launch can replace the first stage, and the first stage accounts for the bulk of the rockets, about 70%. Launching with a booster rotor can take place from an airship, at high altitudes, where the air is allowed ten times or more. Theoretically, up to a hundredfold rarefaction, like on Mars. The devices starting from the accelerating rotor will fly off from it not only at high speed and with full tanks, but also in rarefied air. Such launch conditions are beneficial for light rockets, as they increase their effectiveness three times. And for hypersonic unmanned aircraft.

If light rockets or reusable space shuttles are launched from the booster rotor, it will work as part of the space transport infrastructure. Launching rockets from a rotor reduces their price by about two, three times.

For greater economic benefit, reusable first stages of rockets can be used. Or reusable cruise rocket-planes, with sustainer air-jet engines, which provide additional acceleration with low fuel consumption during atmospheric flight. The rocket planes, after they accelerate the second stage and return to the atmosphere, will land on special airfields for quick service and re-launch.

Heavy rockets cannot be launched from the booster rotor, only light ones, with a payload ranging from several tens to several hundred kilograms. But with such rockets, standardized, lightweight, modular blocks can be delivered into space, for assembling satellites from them in space by the docking method, similar to how the ISS is assembled from separate modules. Removing the payload, in the form of lightweight modular units, is beneficial in that it can greatly reduce the cost of transport infrastructure. The scientific and industrial base for the production of light missiles is not expensive, tens of times less than for standard medium and heavy missiles. It is available to private traders, and pays for itself many times faster, has advantages in terms of growth rate and economic efficiency.

The advantages of launching a payload in the form of light, modular units can also include a reduction in the cost of a promising, missile-free, transport infrastructure. For example, rockets fired by a booster rotor can launch a payload into suborbital flight, reaching slightly less than orbital speed, where they will be picked up by orbital slings. See previous post. In this case, the atmospheric, accelerating rotor will work in conjunction with the orbital sling, being a component of the next generation space transport infrastructure.

Or the booster rotor will drive the payload onto a steep ballistic trajectory, a long-range projectile trajectory, without missiles, at the expense of its own speed. Where it will be picked up by other, more efficient missileless transport systems such as orbiting electromagnetic catapults. In this case, the system will operate without missiles at all, fuel will only be needed to correct the trajectory, and the payload weight will be almost one hundred percent. With some caveat, when an orbital electromagnetic catapult is made, most likely, a ground electromagnetic cannon will be made to launch cargo into space entirely on electricity.


The booster rotor can be used to launch light, unmanned aircraft designed to fly at hypersonic speeds.

There is a type of jet engine that operates without a compressor, by compressing air using a high-speed pressure, «ramjet engine». This engine is cheap and performs well at hyper sound speeds. But it cannot operate at low speed, and it is difficult to make a hybrid, two-mode engine. And during the climb phase at low altitude, it will consume a lot of fuel. If hypersonic aircraft are launched at high altitude, with high launch speeds and full fuel tanks, they will have a simple design, low cost and high efficiency.

Hypersonic drones can be in demand by the military, or used for urgent delivery of certain goods.


Atmospheric rotary slings, an intermediate stage in the transition from ground transport infrastructure to space.

Atmospheric rotary slings are a potential component of the transport infrastructure for the earth, bringing humanity closer to the cosmic level of development. Or a transport system intermediate between the earth and space, reducing the cost of launching.

Atmospheric tether rotors are the terrestrial counterpart of an orbital sling, with similar technologies and similar functions. And a potential earthly predecessor of the cosmic sling.

I am a supporter of developing space technologies first on earth, then transferring them into space. This approach can dramatically reduce start-up costs, improve technology faster, and create an economic base on earth before embarking on expensive space projects. This makes it possible to easily and profitably overcome the barrier separating the terrestrial industry from the space industry at all stages.

In the case of the orbital sling, it is much easier and more profitable to start work in this direction of the space transport infrastructure with an earthly analogue, an atmospheric sling. The rotary tanker is an affordable project for startups. In this direction, money and scientific and industrial potential can be accumulated in order to later engage in projects of stratospheric rotary accelerators and an orbital sling. It is an easy way to get started with mass business projects and then move on to space transportation projects. Affordable and convenient for entrepreneurs.

I am publishing this concept of atmospheric, rotor, cable systems to announce it and draw the attention of potential participants in my projects.

I am ready to transfer it to partners from the sphere of mass business, as part of the project of the earth industry of the space age. Or transfer to space privateers, as part of the project of the coordination center for the industrialization of space. And participate in the experimental development and practical implementation of these projects on mutually beneficial terms.


Nikolay Agapov.


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