Step into the near future, a world more science-fact than science-fiction. The near-Earth asteroid 6497-Venturi has been captured and brought into geo-synchronous orbit, and a group of wealthy and emerging nations have banded together to construct humanity’s most complex project ever attempted: a functional space elevator connecting the planet to a station on the asteroid with the goal of mining it for valuable minerals. The Gateway Orbital Station has become a symbol of prosperity, ingenuity and the beginning of humankind’s colonization of the solar system.
Now over a decade after being completed, the station is home to over 2,500 employees, with dozens of companies using it as a base for everything from mining, to shipbuilding, orbital debris capture, energy production and manufacturing. All overseen by the watchful eyes of Orbitech Industries, the primary employer on and corporate sponsor of the station.
…It’s also the world’s most exotic tourist attraction.
For a reasonable price, you can ride the space elevator from the Multinational Terrestrial Tether Facility on the equator in southern Somalia, directly to Gateway Orbital Station. Not only will you experience the thrill and awe-inspiring views of traveling to the edge of space, but the station also promises all the services and amenities needed for a relaxing, exciting and unique vacation.
But not everything appears quite as simple and serene as the brochures and advertisements make it seem. You’ll be thrust into the unique, chaotic and living world of those who call Gateway home, and will experience their nascent ‘rock-hopper’ culture that is far different than expected; or condoned by Orbitech.
Will you bask in the earth-glow on the clean tourist decks of the station, sipping your favourite latte (with beans brought up fresh daily!), or venture to the less advertised quarters where you’ll, if you’re willing, experience the foods, drinks, and entertainment of the first permanent habitat in space?
Be careful though, dive into ‘rock-hopper’ culture, and you might just meet someone that will lead you to an adventure you never could have imagined.