2136 Human Population in Space Surpasses 1000

Over recent decades, the population inhabiting space from Earth to the Moon, including the Earth-Moon L4/L5 points and the Earth L1 point, has seen a consistent increase. More than a thousand individuals now call these regions in space their home and place of work. A substantial segment of this group contributes to the international SCALE project, the Sunlight Control and Limitation Effort which maintains a sunshade between the Earth and the Sun.

The International Space Station 2.0, a multinational endeavor led by India, Nigeria, and China, serves as a hub for scientific research and technological development. Housing a hundred individuals, the station is a testament to the enduring spirit of international cooperation in space exploration.

Various lunar research bases and solar power stations, host 50 and 75 personnel respectively. The Mars Transit Habitat, a rest and resupply point for Mars-bound missions, operates with a minimal crew of 12. Several tourist destinations in orbit and on the moon accommodate about 200 tourists at any time, a testament to the importance of tourism as a business in outer space. Meanwhile, the Space Debris Collection network and TOAST, the Transit Orbital Assistance and Space Towing service, each staffed by 30 personnel, work tirelessly to mitigate the growing problem of space debris while providing crucial services to satellite and spacecraft operators at the same time.

At the heart of these endeavors lies SCALE. This ground-breaking project, initiated in response to the global warming crisis, engages 400 personnel across lunar factories, various points in Earth's orbit, and at the L1 Lagrange Point. Alongside these dedicated individuals, tens of thousands of construction drones autonomously process millions of tons of titanium and aluminum into lattice structures and foil.

The Off-Earth Manufacturing Facility and Biological Research Station, each with a crew of 25, lead advances in microgravity manufacturing and space medicine. Concurrently, lunar ice mining Bases and the multi-national Deep Space Gateway, with 20 and 15 staff respectively, provide essential resources, and serve as launching points for further space exploration.

Though not yet operational, the Space Elevator Research Station houses 10 personnel focusing on research and development for a future space tether. The distributed Deep Space Observatory is home to a total of 15 researchers while various comet research facilities, in earth space and beyond employ 20 scientists, technicians and prospectors. The Interstellar Probe Launch Site, operated by StarSail, is gearing up to dispatch probes into interstellar space. A compact technical crew manages the site's powerful lasers and energy stations, essential for propelling these probes.

A multitude of smaller stations, managed by a combination of private corporations and nation-states, dot the low and high Earth orbits. Each station, though smaller in size and scope, contributes uniquely to the broad spectrum of human space activities. Despite their modest size, these stations accommodate a significant segment of the space-residing population. They play pivotal roles in research, space resource utilization, and in-situ manufacturing. The ability to produce equipment and spare parts directly in orbit significantly reduces the need for costly cargo launches from Earth. These service-focused stations, alongside lunar mining facilities, are the early indicators of an emerging interplanetary economy.

2154 Inauguration of Gemini, a Grand Private Space Colony at Earth-Moon L5

The year 2154 marks the inauguration of Gemini, an ambitious private venture that emerges as a monumental space colony at the Earth-Moon Lagrange point L5. Gemini is not just an ordinary space station. It's a vast O'Neill double-cylinder, a space habitat concept that seemed like a distant dream a century ago.

The conception of Gemini dates back to 2129, when a consortium of private space corporations from around the globe, including names such as Orbital Dynamics (UK), the Yakutsk KosmosTek, Astrosphäre (Germany), Manchurian Tian Gong Industries, and the Indian Antariksh Enterprises, proposed the idea. The surge in lunar mining operations around this time provided ample construction materials, making the ambitious project economically viable. Lunar iron, titanium, aluminum, silicon, and carbon, along with trace elements and rare earths, and essential volatiles like water, oxygen, and nitrogen, formed the building blocks of Gemini.

The design of Gemini is a marvel in itself. It comprises two gigantic cylinders, each five kilometers in length and one kilometer in diameter. Reusable launch systems, a staple for over a century, combined with robotics, automation, zero-gravity 3D printing, and engineering AI, allowed the creation of this megastructure. These cylinders rotate to generate a Mars-level artificial gravity, a key aspect making long-term habitation feasible.

Inside Gemini, the terraforming process mimicked Earth's environment, layering the lunar rock above the support structure to serve as a radiation shield. Inside this rocky shall lay a thin layer of soil, implanted with life-supporting minerals, plant seeds, and living organisms, creating a lush, green interior that was not just livable, but thriving: a lush green oasis in outer space.

The terraforming process was an extraordinary engineering feat, and it took many years of careful planning and execution to achieve. To create a biologically active environment inside Gemini, a diverse array of plant species, including genetically modified variants, were introduced to create a balanced ecosystem. These plants were not only chosen for their aesthetic appeal, but also for their ability to adapt to the unique conditions inside the cylinders, contributing to oxygen production and waste recycling. Additionally, several small water bodies were introduced to enhance humidity control and provide habitats for a variety of aquatic species, adding another layer to the complexity and richness of the life support system inside Gemini.

After its inauguration, Gemini rapidly grows into the cultural and economic heart of the outer Earth orbit (XEO). Its strategic location at L5, a point of gravitational equilibrium between Earth and the moon, makes it energetically advantageous for traffic between high Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and the Sun-Earth L1 point. Gemini's position bolsters its economic significance as a trading post and a waypoint for spacecraft traveling further into the solar system.

Gemini's economy primarily thrived on research and manufacturing, and companies opted for Gemini over other space stations for its natural living environment, a stark contrast to the confined spaces of traditional space stations. The research and manufacturing activities at Gemini span a diverse range of fields. Biotechnology research on protein crystals yields advances in medical treatments, including novel therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Manufacturing in space also sees a surge at Gemini. In its microgravity environment, companies are able to produce high-quality, crystal-clear optical fiber using a process more efficient in space than on Earth. By 2160, some of the advanced components of next-generation spacecraft are being assembled and launched directly from Gemini, saving costs and resources, and further boosting the station's economic viability.

The diverse population of Gemini, exceeding a 10.000 by 2160, represents a melting pot of cultures from across the world. The society is very international, united in the notion that Gemini is a big step towards making outer space a living space for humans and that they are at the frontier of human development in the solar system. The Gemini Festival of Lights, an annual event marking the station's solar orbit completion, becomes a symbol of this shared vision. This vibrant event, which illuminates the interior of Gemini with a dazzling array of colors and patterns, mirrors the diversity and unity of the station's international community. Moreover, it swiftly transforms into a prominent tourist attraction, drawing visitors from other space habitats, lunar settlements, and even Earth itself. Artists from across the globe participate in this festival, showcasing their work in a stunning light and sound display that spans the entire interior of the cylinders, reflecting off the water bodies and vegetation, and creating a mesmerizing spectacle that leaves audiences in awe. For many, the journey to Gemini to witness this festival becomes a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a testament to humanity's progression and unity in the vastness of space.

In the years following its establishment, Gemini serves as a prototype for other similar station complexes comprising two or more cylinders. The experience gained during construction, operation, and station management proves invaluable for building even larger habitats in the decades after Gemini. As a result, Gemini's success paves the way for humanity to become a truly space-faring civilization.