It was the little people of Earth who built the post-scarcity society. When grown-ups wouldn't.
Why was the world so unfair? They could see that many people had very little while only a few remaining dragons hoarded much of the gold to themselves.
"What if we took care of each other?" they thought. How do we build a society founded on equity and fun?
Climate change loomed on almost everyone's minds. They thought, "If we look at the big picture... maybe we can find a way to fix this."
Rogue asteroids, doom-filled super-volcanoes - we should probably have a plan for those too.
"Let's go big or we may not have a home!" they shouted. "The sky's the limit!" they clichéd. "TO THE MOON!!!" they typed with exuberance!
With their parent's permission they funded a blockchain smartcontract with Dogecoin. One hundred million kids pitched in $10 each. SpaceX and a team of space agencies had $1 billion to design and build the Sprout🌱. #dearMoon was planning a trip to the Moon anyway and delivered the Sprout on their way by in 2023, to everyone's delight.
The Sprout was 146 tonnes of hydrogen and the most beautiful self-replicating mining and manufacturing robot you have ever seen. A 3D printer that 3D prints itself out of aluminum and silicon it gathers below the surface of the Moon.
Kids around the world were having a blast, quite literally. They led and trained the mining robots from the comfort of their Earth homes through virtual reality headsets.
Thanks to Minecraft, skilled operators were trained, experienced and ready to go. Especially since the smartcontract meant they got paid well. Everyone's input is valuable when building the inclusive society of the future.
The robots and machines launched solar panels, mirrors and other materials into the Moon's orbit using a magnetic launch system similar to a hyperloop but pointed straight up. This was much easier than launching it from Earth since the gravity is less on the Moon. The mines were hollowed out rings below the surface of the Moon, being careful to have a small footprint and not change how the Moon looks. [The hollowed rings were eventually made to hold spinning habitats themselves. Shielded by moonrock above.]
In a massively multiplayer online collaboration, kids around the world imagined and designed the spaceships that could hold everyone in the world, called habitats. There would need to be enough of these space lifeboats for 10 billion people or more. They should be enjoyable places to spend time too.
They worked together and made a plan. The designs were open-sourced. Kids made decisions by consensus to form new governments that would help take care of these new places.
The United Nations Outer Space Treaty meant that society could leave behind many of our dated traditions, including sovereign countries.
The effort was known to some as the post-nation pluralist province of humankind and friends :). Each habitat was more like a small city. Early designers, miners and makers built the first blockchain direct democracy to make decisions by. Consensus meant that everyone needed to consent to a proposal for it to be adopted. Instead of division, the approach led to deeper discussion and better questions. Consensus is central to inclusivity and takes time. Fortunately, there is always time.
Moon conservation areas were formed, one was the Sea of Tranquility Lunar Preserve. Cases were made that if we were going to mine for resources it may be better to do so on the Moon and to conserve as much "living Earth" as possible.
The first 20 000 square kilometer solar collector was completed in 24 months. It was a good thing it had nice people (children!) that owned it with a secure and peaceful democratic system. 6 billion kilowatts and growing! Such power and heat! WOW! Well enough to take care of an asteroid that might come our way.
The enormous solar collector and mirror array sent energy back to both the Earth and the Moon. Stations there were able to make renewable fuel and launch materials to build the first habitat. Carbon and organic elements came from Earth. Aluminum, silicon, iron and water from the Moon. From water and energy they could make hydrogen for fuel and oxygen for breathing.
The habitat was set up in 4 quarters:
An important safeguard was the electromagnetic field generator. The induction coil acted as an umbrella to repel solar weather and space radiation, in addition to the 50 metre thick carbon fibre ring.
Asteroids and comets and other collision risks were detected by a mesh network of radar satellites spread out into the solar system. Any stone small enough was vapourized with the mirrors. Anything too big was sent a swarm of space tugboats that with enough time, simply pushed the concerning rock onto a new safer course. Micro-meteors were stopped with a combination of a thick shield of moonrock and a repairable Kevlar blanket surrounding the main carbon fibre hull.
The nature quarter was established to emulate a biome of earth. It occupied a dedicated quarter of the ring, but was the only quarter to also extend the entire circumference. It was a calming way to walk to work. It was a biofilter. It was a meditation space. It was a living seed bank if anything bad happened on Earth - the start of an Ark, a sanctuary.
The nature quarter was also an important test and demonstration. All of the work up to this point was done remotely or with AI driven robots. Nothing higher risk than riding a bike was allowed in this space adventure. No heroes were needed, only diligent attention to research, development and inclusive design.
Vitals for the habitat were monitored for a complete year. Oxygen, carbon dioxide, humidity, toxins, pressure, gravity, Coriolis, radiation. All checked out fine and the first inhabitants arrived by SpaceX Starship in time to celebrate New Years 2026.
By 2031 there were 1 million ring habitats at various positions in orbit around the Earth. Some were in low earth orbit helping out a series of sister cities as they passed overhead, providing drops of food and energy in exchange for launches of water, carbon and other organics. Some did it for trade. Others to provide a relief effort, a necessity as climate change disasters affected many regions.
Some habitats stayed in high earth orbit - geostationary or sun-synchronous to optimize their energy output and production. Or just because they preferred the view.
There were many different ring designs, but all had a compatible central connector for city stacking. The model design had capacity for 10 000 people but typically carried 5000 - ready to host guests at any time.
Functional spaces included:
1. Zero-g hangar at centre
Part of the farm quarter contained an algae bioreactor to generate cellulose. The cellulose was first used as a construction material. A vat of biocomposite paste extruded through a 3D printer was used to build many of the structures in the home and admin quarters.
The wooden feel of the biocomposite put people at ease and helped residents feel at home. It was also compostable, so when humans tired of their structures, they could recycle them.
The algae was delicious and eaten directly with many new recipes but it was also processed through artificial ruminant flow reactors producing tasty, animal free hamburgers.
Gardeners grew more typical vegetables - carrots, peas - in the community gardens within the home quarter.
Everyone had a chance to enjoy the benefits of new reflectionism. Some called it a renewed enlightenment. The circular economy worked.
With an exponentially growing renewable solar energy supply, the habitats had plentiful energy and food. Exports to Earth and trade with other habitats meant that a new solar-based crypto-physical currency was established which quickly became the most valuable form of credit. No taxes were ever paid. Everyone had access to free healthcare, education and housing. At the same time, no-one was ever short of money as everyone was paid an equity dividend, directly into their accounts.
Kid-citizens celebrated the democratic process and worked to improve it. The invention of secure, highspeed physical mail piped directly to your home offered many advantages over blockchain. Citizens conveniently sent an auditable, paper ballot through the tube system and voilà - a tyrannical leadership dethroned before lunchtime!
Animals other than humans who consented to residence in an orbital habitat (including horses, dogs and cats) lived among us in the sky. They were each provided with stylish robotic pet-diapers to take care of any droppings automatically - sterilizing, composting and returning nutrient rich soil to a nearby garden.
1 g was made a universal human right.
Habitats had everything you would expect: day and night, 4 seasons, rain, even wind. But habitats weren't Earth. Stardust holidays to the space cottage were so much better knowing you had a safe and healthy Earth to return home to.
We still wondered about other stars. Not wanting to intrude, we listened and we waited for an invitation. Do you think our celestial neighbours like potlucks?
🎨 Craft time!
Trim the edge off the colouring sheet.
Share your creation! #howtobuildaspaceship
View or Download Orbital Habitat SketchUp: [3D Model]
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