2141 Africa's Big 5 Move to South America

The African megafauna is being resettled in the Amazonian savanna.

In the last 200 years, Africa's nature reserves have undergone a significant reduction, with most giving way to human activities as early as the 21st century. Sadly, many of Africa's magnificent large animals are endangered or already extinct in the wild, with the leopard being on the brink of extinction, and only small genetically-reduced groups existing in zoos. Buffalos and rhinos have vanished from their natural habitats, though they are kept as livestock for their meat, milk, and horns. Currently, only African elephants and lions still reside in natural reserves. But both species are heavily "managed": their movements are controlled, and their reproduction is artificially supported. In case of the leopard only cloning and gene-editing might prevent the complete extinction of the species. Other large species such as wildebeest, zebra, antelopes, and cheetahs are facing a similarly dire fate.

South America has a relatively low population density that is comparable to Africa in the 20th century, whereas the African continent is now nearly four times as densely populated. The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has transformed the region into a savanna with a climate similar to that of central Africa. Regrettably, due to the scarcity of water, only a portion of the Amazon can be utilized for agricultural purposes, leaving the remainder as a dry savanna that is primarily used for harnessing solar energy.

In the 2120s, Animais Selvagens del Mundo, an animal protection organization, successfully persuades regional governments to designate large nature reserves in the Amazon that are suitable for African megafauna species. After two decades of meticulous analysis and preparation, numerous African species are relocated to these new reserves. The adjustment of the food chain is significantly aided by modern genetic engineering, known as gengineering. Over the next few years, in addition to the Big 5, wildebeest, zebra, antelopes and gazelles are also successfully resettled. The South American jaguar replaces the then extinct African leopard.

Africa loses its last megafauna in the early 23th century. But thanks to the resettlement, many large species survive in the nature reserves of South America.

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.