Space settlements 101

A fair number of the visitors of this site have the idea that we want to establish settlement on the surface of celestial bodies such as planets or moons. This is however not the case, instead we prefer space habitats in orbit around the Sun, planets or moons. When we use “space settlement”, “space habitat” or “space colony” we always refer to orbital space settlements.

In this sense space habitats are a type of space stations. Space habitats differ from other types of space station in that space habitats are designed to house a substantial population, and that space habitats use centrifugation to replace gravity.

The use of centrifugal force in space habitats is clearly explained in this video by Real Engineering.

Asteroid Mining

Once we understand the basic physics of orbital space habitats, we need to know where to get the required resources. As noted in the video above, launching all building materials is way too expensive.

Christopher Barnatt explains in the video below the basics of asteroid mining. Using in space resources the need of launching stuff from Earth is greatly reduced.

Space habit illustrations

Since we understand that many visitors face difficulties with imagining what orbital space habitats would like, hence we have decided to include several artist impressions of space habitats on this page. The are several types of space habitats, including dumbbell, torodial, spherical and cylindrical habitats.


This design is a typical first generation space habitat and a logical extension from current space station such as the ISS.

Stanford torus

This one is what we could call a second generation space habitat, intended for a larger population but still less then a couple of thousands.

Exterior view of several neighboring colonies

Exterior view

Part of the rim including many nearby space vehicles

Look inside

Frogamatic has a video of a related design:

Bernal Sphere

This type of space habitat is similar to the previous one in regard of stage and population size.

Bernal Spheres - exterior

Exterior view

Interior including human powered airplane

Interior view

O’Neill cylinder

This is a final stage space habitat, designed for much larger population, varying from a few thousand to a couple of million residents.

Exterior view of a double cylinder colony

Exterior view of an O’Neill cylinder


Interior view of an O’Neill cylinder

For the establishment of secular, liberal, humanist and republican space settlements

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