§ 6.1 Colonies in Orbit vs. Colonies on Planetary Surfaces
Colonies in orbital space are superior to colonies on other planets and moons, contrary to popular belief. "Planetary chauvenism" is the tendency for people to think that colonies in space would preferably be located on planetary surfaces like Mars or the Moon instead of in orbital space.
Consider the advantages of a habitat based in orbit:
- A habitat based in orbit can be wheel-shaped and rotated to produce artificial gravity by the centrifugal (centripetal) force. Choose the healthiest gravity you want. Earth-normal gravity may be needed for good health for long-term stays.
- A habitat based in orbit has access to sunshine 24 hours/day. No nights. Crops can grow faster by varying sun (but not sunlit 24 hours/day since many plants need nights, but opening/closing sunshades or mirrors for optimal sunlit periods), for more economical output per unit of habitat and time. Year-round growing season. Orbit-based habitats will be very green, glassy structures with some very exciting architectural and recreational features, including areas for human flight.
- Products and services for selling to Earth economies will be manufactured and assembled in orbital space, and operated there. So, the suburbs in space will be located where the demand is, namely, next to the factories, like it or not. (Why the manufacturing facilities will be located in orbital space instead of on the Moon is discussed elsewhere.)
There will eventually be settlements on other planets as well, as there will be all kinds of people with diverse preferences, but settlements on other planets and moons will be feasible only after we have settlements in orbital space and the economic support and physical infrastructure to support them.
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