Life in the Space Cities

No matter what the final habitat design, it should not be expected that space dwellers will live under exactly the same conditions as their stay-at-

home relatives. Since maximum linear distances between destinations will be no more than a few kilometers, bicycles and electric trolleys will replace automobiles. Because agricultural regions will be very close to population centers, food will always be fresh and refrigeration may be unnecessary.

It is debatable whether food-preparation and service will be communal or up to individuals. Because of concerns regarding fire in the confines of a space city, solar-concentrators or microwave ovens might be the preferred method of food production.

Paper production would be local, owing to the proximity ofagricultural regions to centers of industry and population. One import from Earth might be computers—and e-publications might well replace the printed word.

Medicine and dentistry would be significantly different from their terrestrial equivalents. Anesthetics might be generated using products grown in onboard rainforest environments. High-tech equipment would likely be imported from Earth, at least in the initial phases of space settlement and industrialization. If a person suffered from a heart ailment, he or she could move to a lower gravity community closer to the space city's axis of rotation.

Variable gravity within these communities will alter human sports, performance arts, and recreation. Low-gravity dance, gymnastics and hang-gliding have been suggested.

The space habitats will be too small for severe weather patterns to develop. Only in the large Model 3 cylinder cities would clouds form and occasional rain fall from the sky.

O'Neill was impressed by the population-density similarities between space cities and Italian hill towns like Assisi and Siena, with histories dating to the Etruscans or Romans. Although this similarity might promote a great deal of social cohesiveness, it also has a down side. Except when they were united by the Roman Empire or the modern Italian government, many of these idyllic-seeming communities were engaged in constant warfare. It would be unfortunate if rival space city-states warred over claims to particularly rich asteroids or comets.

If one surveys the interior design concepts for the initial space habitats, he or she cannot help but be struck by the wide variety of possibilities. Some designs resemble small university towns like Princeton or Stanford; others are suburban. A few are hippie communes, and even some shopping-mall-like environments have been proposed.

Many of these interior-design possibilities, as well as the matter of space-city governance, should be left to the eventual space-city inhabitants. It is clear, however, that given a non-solar energy source and a method of propulsion, these space habitats will be able to engage in interstellar voyages of centuries or millennia.

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