Tag Archives: space settlements

The Inter-Settlement Exchange System

Recently we proposed the Stella – a commodity basket backed currency – as a tool the facilitate the trade among space settlements. In this post we will further explore the use of the Stella as a reference currency.

Continue reading The Inter-Settlement Exchange System

Civil defense force

In a space habitat all kind of disasters can occur. These unfortunate events could be small or big, but in all instances an adequate response is required to save lives and to protect health. In order to handle such situations properly, an organization is necessary and therefore we propose the establishment of civil defense forces in each space settlement. Continue reading Civil defense force

The Association of Lagrangian Nations

When multiple sovereign communities will be established at the 4th or 5th Sun-Earth Lagrange points (SEL), there will be a need for an intergovernmental platform. The leaders of the several Space Settlements will regularly meet to discuss their common interests and to settle their own disputes.

We propose the establishment of the Association of Lagrangian Nations (ALN). This organization will not be a military alliance, nor will it be a free-trade area. Rather it will be the Lagrangian alternative for the united nations, but with several key differences. Continue reading The Association of Lagrangian Nations

Flag states

Under international law all countries are entitled to maintain a maritime fleet. This includes landlocked countries, i.e. countries without a coast line. Therefore it is possible to register an ocean-going vessel in, for instance, Switzerland. Obviously such ships depend completely on foreign ports.

There is no reason that Space Settlements wouldn’t be allowed to maintain a maritime fleet. Theoretically it would be entirely legal for Space Settlements to open a ship register for terrestrial ships. However, space settlements serving as flag states could be a potential source of controversy. Continue reading Flag states

Bicycle sharing

Earlier we discussed the use of personal rapid transportation or PRT in space settlements, and O’Neill cylinders in particular. In a previous post we proposed that the public transport system of a O’Neill cylinder would consist of:

1. A maglev metro along the heart line of the valleys, serving as the backbone of the transportation system;

2. A PRT network serving as a secondary network, aimed at short distance transport.

A question one could reasonable ask is whether having both systems is actually necessary? One could argue that an extensive PRT system would make the maglev metro obsolete.

In a smaller space habitat such as Stanford torus or Bernal sphere, having these two system would indeed be superfluous. The the distances within the settlement are too short. However, in greater settlements, such as O’Neill cylinders, there will be a differentiation between short and long distance travel. The longer the length of an O’Neill cylinder, the greater the justification for a dual transport system.

PRT systems are usually designed to travel at speed 40 to 50 km/h, while maglev trains in vacuum could easily reach 8,000 km/h.

It might take several decades to complete an extensive PRT network (a maglev metro needs to build during the construction of the space habitat). Hence we need to consider an alternative transport system.

Again we suggest to use the maglev metro as the backbone of the public transport system. Additionally there will be a bicycle sharing system, which would allow people to travel to and from the maglev station.

In a bicycle sharing system people can use publicly owned bicycles against a low or even zero price. One takes a bike from station A and go to station B and leaves the bike there.

There are many methods to prevent people from stealing these public bikes. The system as we propose, is the following. First public bikes will be of an unusual model, to make a clear distinction between privately owned bikes and public bikes. Further bikes will be locked at their station and only be taken after paying a refundable deposit, for which people need to buy a special coin. The coin is returned once the user brings the bike to a public bike station.

The requirement to buy a special coin, rather than to use normal coins, will allow the operator to charge a higher price for the use of public bikes. This would create a greater deterrence for potential thieves as well providing some revenue to fund the program.

A bicycle sharing system could be extended to include tandems and freight bikes as well. The bikes could also be provided with an electric support motor.

The first generation space habitats

Space colonization will be a process with multiple stages, on this site we usually discuss the latter stages of this process. However, it is important also to discuss the earlier stages. These earlier stages will be characterized by small human presence in space and extensive use of robotics and teleoperation.

As space colonization will develop, the number of humans is space will grow. Hence we distinguish between different generations of space settlements. The first generation of space habitats are dumbbells and similar designs. The second generation consists of Bernal spheres and toroidial designs. And the third generation consists of O’Neill cylinders.

The second and third generation of space habitats, as defined above, are large structures designed for large populations. The reason why these designs are large, is because they use centrifugation to replace gravity. The centrifugal force depends on the product of the radius and the angular velocity. A larger radius requires a lower angular velocity, which is preferred by most humans.

Both the Bernal sphere and the Stanford torus have a radius in the order of a few hundred meters, which implies about one revolution per minute. Their designs require a lot of material resources, however. On the other hand, these designs also provide living space for tens of thousand people.

First generation space habitats will also use centrifugation to replace gravity, but use a simpler design which would require less material. But consequently provide room for fewer people. Though this is not really an issue in the early stage of space colonization.

The dumbbell habitat design consists of two modules, with an equal mass, which are connected with each other with a tether. The structure rotates around its midpoint, halfway the tether, and hence generating a centrifugal force.

The tether can be of any desired length, while there no special size requirements for the two modules. Even if the tether is a few hundred meters long, the material requirements will be modest. The modules themselves are similar to those of the international space station, though we could also opt for the inflatable modules of Bigelow Aerospace.

A similar design is the bola space habitat.

Dumbbell habitats will serve as a first base for asteroid mining and the construction of next generation habitats. Depending on the size of the modules a few dozen people will stay at the habitat.


O’Neill Cilinders

The first two videos are uploaded by CentripetalWorlds. Both feature O’Neill cylinders, video one appears to show, the construction of an O’Neill cylinder.

Two rotating O’Neill cylinders (warning: annoying sound, please mute volume).

A different but related design, the Kalpana One:

The Kalpana One is an interesting design, and quite suitable for the first generation of space settlements (O’Neill cylinders have been considered as a second generation space habitat since they were designed).

For a technical discussion of O’Neill cylinders, by no one less than O’Neill himself, see here.

Exterior view of a double cylinder colony