by Max Barry

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by The Taking A Break from NS of Earth Orbit. . 9 reads.

National Federation Factbook - Orbis-class Space Stations

Orbis-class Space Station
Technology (Orbital Structure)

Date of Invention: February 18th, 2098

Official name: Orbis Station
Purpose: High-capacity orbital population and industry center
Used by: The Federation of Earth Orbit

The first Orbis-class station built, Alpha-1.
Note the presence of only one hab ring instead of eight.

Orbis-class Space Station

Orbis-class stations, deriving their name from the Latin word for orbit, are the largest orbital structures built to date. With a population capacity of four million people and entire cities and towns encompassed within each of eight rotating habitation rings, Orbis stations are the heart of all orbital life. Sixty-four are currently in use by the Federation of Earth Orbit, all of which are roughly at capacity and fulfill a diverse range of needs.

Technical Overview

Orbis-class stations consist of two parts.

  • A central cylinder, containing a docking bay, maintenance and utility facilities, and other infrastructure.

  • Eight habitation (hab) rings, connected to the central cylinder, which house the bulk of the station population.

Central Cylinder

The central cylinder is the backbone of the station; all the resources required to keep the precisely balanced systems running pass through here at some point.

At the very front of the cylinder is the docking bay - hundreds, if not thousands, of ships dock here per day, fulfilling demand and buying up supply on various trade routes. Further back past the bay are the massive cargo bays and industrial facilities that support this trade and supply the station. Beyond that, the kilometer-high radiators extend away from the station, bleeding the station's perpetual waste heat into space. Finally, the reinforced core systems module, which includes the station's main fusion reactor, central atmospherics, and other systems critical to station operations, all buried within layers of heavy armor and radiation shielding. The core module opens at the rear to accept ice asteroids from tugs, which are then melted down and processed into reactor and ship fuel, atmosphere for the station, and water for residents.

Along the outside of the cylinder are the stations' missile launchers and their magazines, which are meant to allow a station to provide backup in combat and protect itself should Federal combat vessels not be in the vicinity.

The docking bay of an Orbis station.

Habitation Rings

The hab rings are where most day-to-day station activity is conducted. Each of the eight hab rings has a circumfrence of 23.5 kilometers, and spins with the central cylinder to generate a full one gee of artificial gravity. Inside, each kilometer-wide ring has 23.5 square kilometers of land area, giving each station 188 total square kilometers of space.

This space is used for cities as well as suburban towns and even rural areas; although the Federation of Earth Orbit's Station Management Agency does not set any requirements on the positioning and usage of land, most stations tend to have four urban rings, before switching to suburbia and potentially becoming totally rural in the rear.

Urban rings tend to contain 50% of the stations population comfortably, with the remainder spread evenly across the rest. Station authorities generally keep a tight watch on where people are moving to and settling to prevent overcrowding.

A semblance of day and night inside is maintained through the use of a plex-glass "canopy" on the interior of the ring. Two meters thick, this technology-infused material can automatically tint and light up to correspond with pre-programmed patterns. For example, at noon, the filter will let almost all sunlight through when the sun is visible, and runs the embedded micro-lights at top power when it is not. However, at night, the tint will increase and the micro-lights will gradually dim, simulating evening and eventually darkness, except for a few artificial stars consisting of small micro-light clusters. This prevents residents from having to deal with "days" that last only a few hours, leading to annoyances like constantly shifting light and disrupted sleep patterns. It also has the advantage of affording those inside an amazing vista.

In the event of a canopy or hull breach, pressure-retention field technology layered within the material will create a temporary seal over the hole within a second. If the station is under active attack, this gives residents sufficient time to reach the nearest escape pod or air shelter. It also gives emergency teams breathing room in fully repairing the damage if the damage was not caused by hostile action.

The exterior of the rings is home to the station's defensive infrastructure, including PDCs, laser arrays, and counter-slug cannons. Together, these systems can protect the station against practically any conceivable attack, barring extreme bad luck.

Habitation Overview

A mother and her daughter, both residents aboard an Orbis station, enjoy the weekend in their backyard.

Orbis stations are the residence of choice for most Federal citizens; unlike Coriolis stations, Orbis stations offer the option of a suburban or rural lifestyle. A variety of psychological and personal tendencies also cause many to gravitate towards the more "open" nature of Orbis habitation rings rather than Coriolis urban faces. Young adults generally tend to prefer urban rings when moving to an Orbis station, while those raising a family and other older citizens tend to select suburban and rural rings. Living costs in urban rings are fairly high, but unless one wants to actually own a property, the average monthly rent rate is well within the average Federal budget.

Those considering a suburban ring could realistically lease or buy a property, with purchase costs for homes ranging from 100,000 credits to 1,000,000+ credits, with the average at approximately 200,000. 76% of suburban ring residents choose to own their homes, although half of them have taken out some variety of loan or mortgage to help pay for it. The remaining 24% lease their homes.

Rural rings are the most cost-effective to live in; despite their name, suburban-esque housing is available in rural rings, generally at much lower prices - the average farmhouse-style home goes for below 75,000 credits. This comes at the cost of the housing and utilities not being as modern as those found in suburban or urban rings, as well as a lack of convenient access to commercial outlets (a trip to a supermarket usually entails a transfer to another ring). Most rural residents do not mind these relatively minor differences, with only 6% polled as saying that they would "like to see more development in rural rings."

Utilities such as electricity and plumbing are provided at minimal cost to residents by either the station government or a local station company. Services such as Internet and phone are paid for by tax money and provided to all residents, as the infrastructure is built into the heart of the station (unlike Earth telecom infrastructure, which must be wired into homes at some expense.) Public education is also paid for by tax money, but parents have the freedom to send their children to a private school.

Automobiles are generally only seen in suburban and rural rings, and those that are in use are electric-powered (gasoline is too expensive, and the emissions are difficult to filter). Urban and suburban residents make extensive use of public transport, usually served by one of several corporations, while rural residents rely on their personal vehicles for movement.

Images taken from Elite: Dangerous and Google Images, in no particular order.