The Relay Archipelago is a transitional transportation concept that would be predicated on a very rapid decline in the cost of using pneumatically stabilized platforms, radically reducing the cost of mid-ocean platform construction to allow their use as modest scale airstrips. The concept actually originates in the early 20th century when developers of early fixed wing aircraft sought to make intercontinental travel (then the province of airships) possible despite the limitations of these vehicles by creating mid-ocean airstrips which would serve as refueling posts. Focused mostly on the link between America and Europe, one ambitious plan dubbed Atlantis, called for a mid-Atlantic airstrip platform which would have included its own luxury hotel. However, with marine structure technology at the time limited to sea-floor mounted platforms, this would have actually called for building the largest steel frame structure in human history at the time, rivaling such structures as the Eiffel Tower. Using todays PSP technology, a much simpler structure would be possible based on a two-deck rectilinear platform supporting a single airstrip and integrated service facilities, much as has already been proposed –albeit at a much larger scale– by the PSP developers Float Inc. for full-scale off-shore airports. ¬¬Using a chain of perhaps a half dozen such platforms along a flight path, light planes, such as conventional commuter turbo-prop aircraft, would be able to travel intercontinental distances, stopping periodically for refueling and minor maintenance. Though, of course, quite limited in transit routes, this would allow the use of these small, more economical, and readily available planes to provide fairly quick links to even an equatorial marine colony. However, the cost of these relay networks would have to be quite cheap collectively and they would need to rely on routine traffic from other marine vessels to keep them supplied. This thus remains a fairly speculative concept until more cost analysis can be applied and it may ultimately be limited largely to passenger traffic. The design of the platforms would be quite simple, the structure being a two deck PSP supporting a single airstrip with a space to one side where an open third deck with open bays provides temporary shelter for aircraft when being repaired or if caught in storms. Below the main surface deck and in part of the third deck bays would be lounge and storage facilities with self-service capsule hotel accommodations for situations where aircraft failure or bad weather leave passengers temporarily stranded. The top of the third deck would host marine and air signaling equipment and possibly digital telecom equipment, allowing the platforms to also serve as part of a marine telecom relay in conjunction with possible pylon buoy telecom relays. Membrane tank fuel storage would be located underwater within inner PSP cells. The PSP would also provide most power by wave energy collection, though the airstrip could also be employed as a vast solar thermal collector using integral fluid tubing. Though designed primarily as a self-service facility with flight control supported by automated systems that broadcast the platform’s GPS data and flight service status, these platforms could also be the basis of a kind of marine homesteading since –as long as you are not bothered by the fact that planes are landing on your roof routinely– the lower deck of the platform would offer vast amounts of space with which to make a dwelling or conduct hydroponic farming. Families or small groups performing maintenance for the facility and its passing aircraft could make these into homes of generous size and expand them to include small scale mariculture. They would also be popular as marine research facilities. This could ultimately make them into a kind of Seed settlement, relying on the air and marine transit they are supported by rather than proximity to a coastal community or another marine colony. It would not be suburban living by any means, but they could be comfortable for some, much as lighthouse homes and would offer a convenient work-from-home situation. It is unlikely for the Relay Archipelago to be practical long-term or for more than one or two traffic routes, though it would provide a convenient approach for incrementally extending the reach of an intermediate stage settlement. At a certain point the number of facilities in the relays and their collective operating cost would become great enough that they compete in cost with the construction of a large airliner terminal at the colony itself –though this doesn’t mean that there would be a population sufficient to attract existing commercial air service providers. Owing to the modular nature of the PSP structures, it certainly would be feasible to recycle some of these relay airstrips into a single larger airstrip should the need arise, though this may displace some homesteaders living on them.
- Solar Ferry
- Solar Wingsail Cruiser
- Aquarian Airship
- Aquarian Personal Rapid Transit System
- Aquarian Personal Packet Transit and SuperStore
- Aquarian SE Downstation
- Circum-Equatorial Transit Network