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In my works of worldbuiling I have constantly come across the problem, How to depict and create the most efficient spaceport possible for an interstellar, super advanced, space fairing species. Chemical propulsion is still widely used as the cheapest method of short range super slow travel, the fastest (and/or most expensive) ways of travel is nuclear fusion such as the Daedalus project (but faster reaching C-90%), space elevators, space tethers (as depicted in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqwpQarrDwk ), anti-matter engines, ETC.

I can see how I am not putting this in an understandable way, I guess the question is what is the most perfect combination of these transport systems or how I can combine these in the most efficient way possible? Which ever you understand more and would like to answer more, please do so.

The greater efficiency, the greater the cost. Efficiency in order of magnitude least to greatest: Chemical(Example: Starship-Superheavy),Chemical Metallic-Hydrogen and LOX, Space Tether, Space Elevator, Antimatter Engine (Doesn't work in atmo.), Fusion Propulsion (Doesn't work in atmo.)

P.S. this is not two or three questions, it is one, I am just trying to ask the question in the most understandable way.

P.P.S. If it is not enough info just ask me of what you need and if possible it will be provided.

P.P.P.S. If you have constructive criticism on how I could improve grammar or organization of the text please share it.

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    $\begingroup$ What is most efficient depends on the specific of the use case, for which you are saying nothing. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ I will fix that right away, thank you! $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 5:35
  • $\begingroup$ Right now I cannot think of what else I need to add so please do tell me, I am terrible at asking questions. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ :-) That last P.S. isn't how StackExchange works. The purpose of closing questions is to give you time to better organize/present your question before low-quality answers start coming in. In other words, the whole point is to stop those 5 answers. To help you out, though, all facility designs are driven by their purpose and the limitations of their time. If you tell us the specific purposes of your station and what limitations we should work around, we can help you out. Note that "any and all uses" means the question should be closed for reasons found in our help center. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ @BigStarAerospace, welcome to the forum! the most efficient spaceport will be the one which meets all the demands with the lowest cost, just like an airport. If they have 90% international flights and 10% regional flights, an efficient airport will have more major terminals to handle larger planes. If it only serves domestic flights, no major terminals are needed. Please provide a breakdown of how many routes of each type that your port serves. Design depends completely on demand. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 6:15

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You only have a problem if you assume interstellar trade is for the most part based on the exchange of physical goods.

Assuming the civilization involved is as advanced as you state then the transfer of bulk matter from one solar system to another is largely an irrelevant concern. What matters instead is the bulk transfer of of data and personnel. As far as we can presently tell virtually every solar system in the Galaxy you could hope to colonize is more or less equally well endowed with the same physical resources as our solar system i.e. iron, carbon silicon etc.

That being the case news, personal messages, patents, scientific data, official correspondence/legal decisions etc are far more valuable to a civilization with fusion power and molecular level printing and manufacturing technology than mere bulk matter is.

There will of course be exceptions, rare luxury commodities like works of art, wines and beverages and other luxury goods that can't easily be produced locally but they will be exceptions. Chances are that apart from shuttles or elevators to transfer passengers and a relatively small amount of physical cargo most of your 'trade' will be digital.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer, I am currently working on a more bulky and more understandable question. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ also it is very much for the transport of pretty much every thing especially data because wormholes are usually unreliable to transport radio waves and they are expensive to run because the finding and/or creation of exotic matter is quite troublesome. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ 'Mail packages' i.e. downloaded files stored on a ship for secure delivery would be big business. Also note that the 'down' part of any delivery from space to a planet's surface is the easy bit. Its the return trade 'up' that's the killer. So ships could for instance detach cargo only modules fitted with cheap/simple parachute and heat shield systems that are then de-orbited onto predesignated drop points for recovery. Coming back up? IMO stick with shuttles on newly colonized, still developing worlds and elevators or linear accelerators on developed ones with a fully developed tech base. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 4:16
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Two adjacent space elevators. One longer than the other.

I tried writing a sci-fi game years ago and had to do the same research. This approach has:

  • Almost constant motion of freight.
  • No double handling of freight.
  • Max throughput of about 100 containers per second. That's 70 times more than Shanghai port

One cable that stops about 1km above geostationary level exclusively used for space->planet freight. One cable that extends well beyond geostationary for planet->space freight.

All frieght is in standardised containers - basically the shipping containers we have today just bigger and with guides for the elevator cable and manoeuvring thrusters. Some containers have life support and living quarters and are used as passenger vessels.

Incoming cargo arrives at or just above geostationary level, each container is attached to the down elevator and immediately descend. Multiple containers can be attached in parallel as the cable extends just (ie 1km?) above geostationary orbit.

A "locomotive" carries several standardised containers up the cable. Once it reaches geostationary, the locomotive detaches and is moved to the down cable for an unpowered return journey. It may be possible to partially recharge from the journey back depending on how advanced energy storage is. Locomotives will probably be solar, nuclear, or receive power in microwave transmissions from the ground.

Locomotive speeds need to be at least 200km/hr so the trip up and down the cable to / from earth can be done in hours or days rather than weeks or months.

Once the locomotive detaches, the outgoing containers can be slingshotted into space using the extra cable. This can greatly reduce propellant costs.

When moving freight in bulk, rather than load them into a big ship and then unload them, it would reduce double handling to just keep adjacent containers coupled together and then use an "intersteller locomotive" to pull them to their destination. Then the containers detach onto the receiving space elevator in bulk, the intersteller locomotive stays in orbit.

The base of the elevator cables spawn out into multiple "frieght yards", where freight is loaded into batches based on destination, or redirected onto a planetary-wide freight network.

TLDR: A train network which goes up to geostationary orbit along 2 tracks, and a "trackless" train network between planets.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer, I am currently working on a more bulky and more understandable question. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 16:32
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Space elevators are cool, no doubt in that but are really useless in your case. There is zero need to get anything heavy from earth to orbit. If you already have ships that can go to .9C, i dont think you build them anywhere near earth.

Meaning, the most effective way to get of the Planet ? Probably SSTO´s. A spaceplane that can Carrie a few 100 people or so at once. What you aim for in such a world is speed. And a Space Elevator is not related to speed.

And again, you have the tech to build SSTO´s. Something like a Hybrid Engine should be no problem to build. And really, that's all you need.

When it comes to getting stuff of the Moon, a Mass Driver is the way to go. I would imagine this is true for almost all Bodies with no Atmosphere. You just slap a Railgun on there and call it a day. For all the ones with an Atmosphere, i highly doubt you will need anything from them. Like nobody is gonna show up at Venus and start to mine Acid. But if you really need to get down to a Planet, just use a Rocket. Again, your world has no shortage of anything. So they might as well go for the fastest way the can.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer, I am currently working on a more bulky and more understandable question. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ The ships that go .9C cannot work in the atmoshere therefor I have to use space elevators to transport cargo and passengers to the fusion ships $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ If you want Space Elevators, just implement them. All i am saying is that it makes zero sense to use SE´s if you can build such ships. There is just no case in which a SE is faster then a Rocket or Space Plane. And with all your industiry being in space Anyways, a SE´s is useless. $\endgroup$
    – Erik Hall
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ Well I can see where you are coming from but if you look at the answer from user2555705 he gets across a good point in how i can use two to help me have a continuous input and output. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ as well the space tethers have to much force, chemical rockets are to slow, that is why I see the space elevators as the 3rd most efficient way of close range, mildly fast travel, making them to me at least the most efficient middle man that I need to transport people to the out of atmosphere vehicles. $\endgroup$
    – user78797
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 17:29

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