The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

Habitat Location as a Focus?
I've been involved in a discussion about space habs offlist and today it inspired a thought:

Although OA has it as Canon that the majority of the population lives in space habs, we generally seem to struggle a bit with coming up with the sort of diverse and detailed descriptions for clouds of space habs that we do planets or large scale megastructures. As a result systems that mention orbital bands of space habs, whether orbiting a planet or surrounding a star, can sometimes feel bit generic. We talk in terms of the orbital bands of habs but don't often get into the details of what the hab interiors are like. This also seems to be the case in RL as well as most depictions of space habs pretty much seem to either have a somewhat urban (or even building-like) feel or else are just variants on O'Neill's original cylinder images.

But surely in a civ as capable as OA space habs would be unique and interesting places filled with a diversity of spaces and activities and such to rival a planet.

To help us explore and flesh out such possibilities, perhaps we could look at a focused group effort on describing a single space hab of some kind. Working out how the combination of time, experience, and Y11k technology could shape such a place and resulting in (hopefully) more detailed descriptions than what are usually found for space habs now - both in OA and in RL.


I'be been thinking about putting habitable structures near the axis of a conventional cylinder habitat. The bulk of the population could live in the structures while they could use the cylinder's inside surface as parkland for recreation. This does cause a small logistical problem though; if the structures near the hub rotate at the same speed as the outside surface, that would reduce turbulence in the cylinder's atmosphere; it would also mean that the gravity in the hub would be lower, but the coriolis effects would be greater nearer the hub. If you live near the hub you'd need to be accustomed to both low gravity and strange side effects.

Or you could not rotate the central structures at all, making them microgravity environments; this could cause some turbulence, depending on how far away from the inside surface of the cylinder these structures are. If there were a gap of several tens of kilometres the turbulence would be much reduced.

Or you could have the habitable structures rotating more rapidly, this would make the gravity inside the central structures greater, but also increase the coriolis effects near the hub. It would also increase turbulence, unless the rotating structures are quite a long way away from each other.

We describe very large McKendree cylinders as often having counter-rotating cylinders inside, to balance out the angular momentum, but there are some problems with that. Snce these cylinders would be counter-rotating at relative speeds of thousands of kilometres per hour, even an air-gap of a hundred kilometers would be barely adequate to prevent some friction. I think there would need to be an atmosphere roof (and maybe a stationary shell as well), incorporated into the design between the counter-rotating cylinders, to reduce atmospheric friction effects.
It sounds like a lot would depend on the size of the habitat the design and lifestyle choices the inhabitants made.

A large enough hab would likely have minimal Coriolis forces even pretty close to the hub. Or would have enough room to allow space to put habitation modules high enough up to not rotate with the hab while avoiding turbulence.

Coriolis forces would likely be considered the norm for people who grew up with them. And later in the OA timeline a mix of psychoware and people's internal nanomedical systems could deal with any physiological or mental challenges, either in general or if the inhabitants were switching locations or habs for some reason.

Re large multi-level habs - You could also have use two McKendree cylinders connected externally and counter-rotating ala O'Neill's original design. Or put them end to end with a stationary hub in the middle and each cylinder having multiple levels that all rotate in the same direction as if it were a big building.
This article on Intra-Habitats touches on a lot of interesting things you could put inside a pace hab.

For counter-rotating levels it speaks in terms of a minimum distance of 50km between levels.

These are interesting structural things you could do with a hab - but what might people do with the environments of their habs (with or without such interior structures) to make them interesting?

Perhaps interior Spokes or Struts or similar could support complex (ranging up to improbable or surreal) waterfalls and other water features. Or complex ecosystem niches. Or perhaps might incorporate tech to generate significant temp and humidity fluctuations to produce artistic fogs?

One idea I've occasionally kicked around is a hab where the entire lowest level is an ocean with higher levels - perhaps suspended Plates - are home to land based habitation. Floating islands might also move around on the interior ocean. Or small bubblehabs could float around inside, flying above the waters.

Perhaps a hab(s) that is entirely desert (or nearly so) and has genetically engineered lifeforms that 'garden' the sands and rocks as part of their natural behaviors - creating a huge interior sand garden that the inhabitants can either appreciate from ground level or from suspended habitats of various types.

We actually have one or two worlds or systems where the environment is engineered to produce music and some habs could be set up similarly. The interior landscape could be engineered to produce constant winds that are funneled through various geographical forms or plant forms or the like to produce music or at least pleasant sounds. Maybe forests where the seeds/nuts/fruit on the trees forms natural wind chimes of various tones and pitches, depending on the plant species. The result is entire forests of music playing as the wind blows.

Maybe a forest filled hab where genetically engineered beavers chew the trees into artistic shapes rather than cutting them down?

Coming at this from another direction - the exterior of a hab could be thought of as a giant canvas or blank slate to create art on. What might people do with it?

One thought - the out layer of dirt and rock shielding could be carved or shaped into artistic patterns or frescos or similar that can only be really appreciated from a distance.

Just some thoughts,

This is an image I have been working on to represent the habitat Morrow (we are changing this from a planet to a habitat to reduce the number of terraformed worlds in the Inner regions). The main living spaces are located in the structure near the hub, while the inner surface of the structure is mostly parkland. Morrow is around 100 km long and 40 km in diameter.

This is a relatively early megastructure, which suffered from a malicious viral attack and depopulation in its early history, and was almost completely abandoned for a while. I started work on this before the Covid pandemic, so it isn't really inspired by recent events.

Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
I checked the dimensions of the model I used, and it turns out to be in excess of 170 km long, so I'll adjust this in the update.
Very nice image! Smile

There're lots of fun things you can put in the freefall center of a hab. Structures of various sorts, smaller habs, orwoods or various mixtures of these.

Todd Smile
(11-02-2020, 01:43 PM)Drashner1 Wrote: This article on Intra-Habitats touches on a lot of interesting things you could put inside a space hab.

lots of possibilities for microclimates and specialized exotic ecosystems, for anyone who doesn't want to make an entire planet of liquid nitrogen oceans 

-as todd mentioned, more interesting waterfalls following the interesting properties of spin gravity 
-also if anyone needs perspective references of habitat interiors for drawing, there's so many, but I have a file of reference diagrams too.  

-habitat swarms also kind of create an inversion of the 'one environment planet' trope by making a collection of 'one environment habitats'  that also happen to be reachable within space-opera-reasonable amounts of time. Travel from "Not-Hoth", the snow orbital to "not-Tatooine", the desert orbital in a physics-accurate week-month of travel.
(11-08-2020, 11:56 AM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: -habitat swarms also kind of create an inversion of the 'one environment planet' trope by making a collection of 'one environment habitats'  that also happen to be reachable within space-opera-reasonable amounts of time. Travel from "Not-Hoth", the snow orbital to "not-Tatooine", the desert orbital in a physics-accurate week-month of travel.

Even less travel than that potentially. You could fit vast numbers of habitats (thousands or more) into the Earth-Moon volume or even just one of the Lagrange points. So your ice hab and desert hab could be within a few hundred to a few thousand km of each other and could be reached in no more than a matter of hours.

The next time I make a model of the inside of a hab, I'll add some objects extending upwards from the floor of the hab.

One very interesting description of an ultratech-level hab is in Eon, by Greg Bear, which has chandelier-like objects extending upwards and downwards from the floor to the hub.

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