Blank Space has announced the winners of the second annual ‘Outer Space’ competition. The competition encouraged architects and designers to leverage real scientific advances in robotics, AI, rocketry and autonomous spacecraft to craft fantastic visions for the near future in outer space.
The winners were chosen by a jury of leading architects, designers and scientists, including Anastasia Prosina (Stellar Amenities), Fred Scharmen (Working Group on Adaptive Systems), and Katherine Guimapang (Archinect), among many other distinguished judges.
“The best submissions to the Outer Space 2020 competition were able to suggest a bigger universe beyond the sometimes cramped artificial worlds they made. Oracle and others also dealt with questions that were beyond the merely technical: what motivates people to make and visit new spaces in the first place?” says Fred Scharmen, a jury member for the competition, “They remind us that sometimes the ‘how’ is much easier than the ‘why.’”
The winning entries crafted compelling narratives and images of zero-gravity architecture beyond the planet Earth. Many entries painted an optimistic picture of travel, production, sustainability and inhabitation.
The winning entries of the competition, including honorable mentions and other top entries, will be published in the forthcoming “Outer Space” publication. Proceeds from the publication will be donated to the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia, whose mission is to broaden educational opportunities for K-8th grade students from low-income families in Philadelphia by providing them with tuition assistance. Only 250 copies will be printed, and pre-orders are open now:
If everything should have a purpose, then who is about to decide this purpose? God? Coincidence? Or is it us? What would you do when you are truly free from everything?
I passed by the prayer room again. My grandfather Enoch built this room with a central dome which symbolizes the “Holiness”, shines brightly. He used to pray here every day before he passed away. But now the only reason I come here is to talk to the intelligence system, named Jonah, also built by my grandfather, whose CPU is set in the center of the dome.
It is the year 2442, an era when the ultimate dream of humankind has come true. The world government announced that humanity was completely liberated from productive forces, that all supplies could be automatically produced and processed. People drew from geothermal energy through a giant grid infrastructure connected by pipes, allowing efficient transportation and conversion between heat and supplies. These infrastructures were widely used in several Earth-like planets. From then, humans began to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place and even from planet to planet in spacecraft. Other than landing to draw energy and supplies, we are indeed “free.”
Thanks to the holographic projection and sensing systems, I can fully enjoy traveling, entertainment, and social life in my spacecraft. Besides, Jonah took care of all my life.
“Jonah, what’s new for today?”
“Good morning Adam, breaking news: “The team-based divination game Destiny Predictor is now live and open to all, so be sure to check it out; For movies, today’s new releases include historical originals, and a variety of zero-gravity adventure picks that cannot be missed; Earth records highest daily increase in suicide cases in more than two months, the existential crisis has killed more people than drug use;…”
“Why is that?” I sighed. ” Isn’t it easy to enjoy your life and find a purpose? I wish they knew ORACLE as well.”
I was lucky. I might have a way of escaping from the collective self-destruction. It all started when I was twenty-five years old, two years after I was diagnosed with depression.
I parked my spacecraft for stock replenishment that day. I gazed out while I was waiting. Plenty of spacecraft sailed across the sky; some of them are glowing as the scarlet planets. They all looked lonely, ownerless, and orbited the Earth at a constant speed day after day. Looking at those lifelessness ships, I was in peaceful despair, swallowed by nothingness over time.
“Where shall I go?” I mumbled.
Jonah replied: “You can go anywhere. Please let me know the coordinates.”
“I know, but where exactly am I supposed to go?”
Jonah spent some time calculating. “You have asked a question that I cannot answer.”
“I am not sure where I should go. wherever I go, whatever I see, I will never be happy.” I am physically, psychologically, and spiritually free while living in a spacecraft for all my life. I had infinite options while I had no options at all.
“I’m sorry, all my knowledge comes from experience and deduction. This question is beyond my understanding. But there is an ultimate version of intelligence called ORACLE in the universe. It is omniscient. I can show you his coordinates.”
I knew that Artificial Intelligence never cheats. Meanwhile, a red spot popped up on the dashboard at two o’clock high. Jonah told me that it was the coordinates of the ORACLE. “It is no harm trying to find it, and it might have a way to soothe my restless feeling.” I nodded slightly, gazed out the window and drifted off in contemplation.
As time goes by, I think I should be getting closer to ORACLE. However, Jonah told me that it was hard to locate ORACLE due to some interference with cosmic rays. But since its coordinates could be fixed, my spacecraft is still heading to the destination.
Every day, I stopped by the prayer room, stared at the dome with clocks that loudly announce the passage of time with each tick. With the numerous possessions and ways of entertainment, who will believe me, if I swear that I have felt bored for years?
There were times when I began to doubt that, could I make it to ORACLE? But the more I suspected, the more determined and curious I became. If it was not longing for finding ORACLE, I could not bear the boredom long ago. Fortunately, the ever-blinking red dot on the dashboard seems to be getting closer and closer to me every day.
“Hi, Jonah, how long have we been sailing?”
“59 years, 2 months, and 3 days,” Jonah replied.
“What a long journey.” I sighed, “How far are we from ORACLE?”
“Dear Adam, you are about to make it. Only 42,000 kilometers left to go. In 23 hours and 47 minutes, you will reach your destination.”
“59 years! 59 years! I am almost there. It is the ORACLE that I have chased for life.” My eyes filled with tears. I cannot wait to meet ORACLE. I have a bunch of questions to ask him about life and death and my existence. I need to understand all of these.
My spirit was incredibly refreshing, but at the same time, I felt entirely exhausted. I saw myself in the mirror – my body was rickety, and my face filled with wrinkles. I never realized I had become an old man. I suddenly felt that the pursuit of philosophical answers has not been as meaningful as before. I wished to take some rest after the long days of wandering for answers.
The final 23 years lasted more than a century. Suddenly, the flashing red dot shined brighter in the darkness, surrounded by a red light coming from the dome. I was embraced and washed by the light of ORACLE, just like when I first opened my eyes at birth.
“Dear Adam, you are finally here.”
The voice of ORACLE sounds like my grandfather’s, both kind and gracious. I could not help but reached out my trembling hands and touched forward.
“Thank you for your diligence and persistence over the past decades. You could ask whatever you want. I’m going to tell you the answer that you have been waiting for…”
I closed my eyes and listened to the ORACLE carefully, my body shuddered, and I felt my heart never pounding so fiercely in my chest…
static void Main(string args)
Console.WriteLine(“Adam Schwartz, born on Jan 23rd, 2402, died on March 26th, 2486, at 8:30 pm OCT (Oracle Central Time), due to serious heart attack. Oracle, designed by Enoch Schwartz on Feb 8th, 2354, has been operating for 59 years, successfully extending the life of Adam Schwartz. R.I.P.”);
Earth observation missions collect crucial data that is used to monitor climate change. Given the large volume of data collected, and the carbon footprint associated with it, data storage is a topic of debate. Experts have hypothesised about moving data centres to space, as a more secure and sustainable way to store data. More recently there has been a growth in the commercial use of space linked to companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. Private projects such as Starlink, a global internet system, are under development. These three scenarios have in common the number of satellites planned to be launched, which will greatly increase. Starlink alone aims to send 42,000 satellites for its constellation. As a result, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) will be crowded with ever growing numbers of spacecraft.
As a starting point, the question of what if the sky is inhabited by countless satellites was posed. In this scenario hundreds of thousands of satellites (located in LEO) provide all kinds of valuable data from atmospheric readings, to a global internet network to a space data storage system. However, given the current lack of regulation it is easy to imagine this technology being misused by private corporations or uncooperating nations. It is possible that satellites will be used to display advertisements or political messages. Today, the potential catastrophic effect of satellites can already be seen. Starlink’s first 400 satellites have already been deployed and they have been spotted all over the world polluting the night sky. This is especially problematic for astronomers, who rely on clear skies to study the universe. As well as migrating animals who rely on the stars for navigation, from dung beetles to seals. The more satellites there are in space, the higher the signal pollution on Earth and the higher the chance of a collision. In a worst-case scenario, known as the Kessler syndrome, the collision of two fast moving objects in LEO is enough to trigger a chain reaction capable of partially or totally destroying all orbiting spacecraft.
The series of visualization represent an imagined system based on the current issues surrounding humanity’s relationship with space. The development of new technologies related to space exploration continue to contribute to the advancement of science and benefit numerous fields. Based on the previous research, three main narratives are expected to play a role in the future of space: Earth observation missions, big data storage in space and asteroid mining. These systems showcase humanity’s current environmental and political aspirations for space. However, the unregulated growth of the space industry could have real implications for Earth and its orbit regarding satellite congestion, geo-political conflict, the exploitation of resources for materials and energy and other environmental concerns. This project aims to contribute to the creation of a legal framework for space activities by envisioning a regulating entity in space.
This project speculates on the existence of a Node 1 spaceport in LEO as a self-sustained regulating agency for all space activities. It will initially phase out and eventually substitute all earth-based spacecraft manufacturing and launching, challenging the negative physical impacts of the Anthropocene towards Earth and its resources.
The new network will regulate novel space activities such as asteroid mining by limiting the number and the kind of spacecraft being produced. In this scenario, the Node 1 spaceport becomes an independent entity, physically detached from Earth, supporting the existing space missions. Apart from being a legislative body in space, the spaceport’s main functions include the recycling, manufacturing, maintenance and launching of spacecraft. Furthermore, a Medium Earth Orbit civilian-owned data storage network challenges the current earth-based data centre paradigm to a more sustainable, free for all approach. The material and propellant required in the whole system are to be produced in space through asteroid mining, instead of relying on Earth for resources. Three types of asteroids are mined providing different resources. C-type contains water, which is to be processed into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. S-type and M-type are iron rich which can be turned into steel for infrastructure.
The spaceport constitutes an attempt to effectively manage and reduce the space debris orbiting Earth, while aiding existing and future space missions. It provides the necessary infrastructure to recycle and reuse inactive space items, and to transform floating debris into useful spacecraft. Alternatively, active satellites will be supplied with extra fuel in order to prolong their lifespan. In comparison to earth based spaceports, Node 1 spaceport will greatly reduce the amount of fuel required per launch given the lack of atmospheric drag in space. Therefore, it serves as the ideal base between Earth and interplanetary missions. A network of data storage modules in Medium Earth Orbit store and relay data via laser to and from the Node 1 spaceport, ground stations on Earth and other interplanetary spacecrafts.
The spaceport is based on the logic of an assembly line, with each component placed in a sequence of production, from docking and sorting to refuelling and launching. It is a fully automated system operated by a series of robotic arms capable of performing a variety of tasks. The arms are supported by a truss-like structure which supplies each module with vital energy, materials and data (through a series of cables). Overall, the architectural language borrows from industrial landscapes such as refineries and warehouses, as well as from port cities and data centres. Certain elements had to be adapted to a zero-gravity environment such as the electrolysis chamber and metal furnace. These were intentionally designed to create the centrifugal forces required to function in space, though the presence of rotating, circular elements. Moreover, the different form of each component highlights its different function within the system. The overall geometry of the spaceport resembles the layout of a computer chip, where the distinct components are organized to work together and to create order in a vacuum.
A ringing fills the hallway of my house, I open my eyes and press the button of my watch to start the incoming transmission.
“Message No. 149021 from headquarters.
Good morning. We hope you slept well.
Our team did a great job yesterday. It cleaned up 000,036,299 objects, making travel and space a safer place.
The current figures for space debris are as follows:
Objects > 10 cm – 000.015.392
Objects 1-10 cm – 000.328.481
Objects < 10 cm – 038.229.926
“Your current area of responsibility is Sector E 002,322.
Be careful and keep the room clean. – End of Message.”
I close my eyes for a second and try to imagine what could be found in this sector, which would expand my collection. This is always the first thought I have when I receive a new message from headquarters.
This was first and foremost the reason why I applied for that job. All those lost objects by the famous space missions of the early days.
I’ve been obsessed with space travel since I was a kid. How many times have I recreated the scene of the moon landing in my bedroom and jumped from my bed to the floor, repeating Armstrong’s famous words, “It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
We as humans are of course much further now. Rockets are launched regularly, and tourists travel the lunar surface. Another advantage of my job was that it was one of the first to be available to the average normal consumer in space. I was able to combine my love for missions with finding artifacts from that time and was one of the first to leave Earth’s orbit! I still remember the day my application was accepted and my training program for the journey into space began.
We were not only the first to travel into space, but also an important part of space activities. Who would have ever thought that we, as garbage collectors, would have such a great influence on the future of mankind? I mean, after my work in space had begun, I realized that my job as a garbageman, already on Earth, played an essential role in maintaining the Earth’s ecosystem.
But the irresponsibility and the resulting… caused by the people on earth, had made it impossible for us to save the entire earth from today’s mountains of rubbish. Some areas of the earth where we lived then are therefore uninhabitable today. It seems that we still have a long way to go until we understand how to preserve our habitat and save it from destruction .. if it is not already too late for that.
But I do not only dream of flying into space to make a meaningful contribution, but also to pursue my passion as a collector. I search for lost or abandoned objects that were taken outside of the Earth’s orbit and have been floating in space ever since. Like the cameras that were lost on the Gemini 10 mission and the STS-116 mission. The Ed White’s lost glove from the first American spacewalk. Or bigger things, like all those satellites still orbiting the Earth. There are some special things you can collect. This enriches my job as a garbage man, so I like it even more.
Just as archaeologists search the ground for special objects, my playground is space – the orbit of the earth and the mystical universe. I search precisely for clues in NASA reports, Космическая программа СССР (Soviet Space Program), Space X … and whatever they may be called. I’m mainly looking for older, historical parts. But I also collect newer ones, like the parts of one of the first settler ships that travelled to Mars. In fact, I was lucky to be the first to find this one. Of course, I’m not the only one who chases after such objects.
I am one of those junkies who searches for these objects solely on the basis of their own interests. The term came up over the years as we became kind of obsessed with the junk the space agencies left behind. The result was a veritable betting war for the most sought-after junk, to be able to sell it on to collectors. I call them capital raiders! I have always dreamed of space as a place without capitalism and politics. . .
I would like people to see my collection once and learn about our history. I wish to show the human potential we can have when we work together and not against each other.
My “museum” is only a tiny reminder of the great achievements of our past. I have no capitalist aspirations. But it is also a reminder that we colonized space not only because of the outstanding development of technical progress, but above all because we treated our beloved Earth irresponsibly and turned it into an uninhabitable planet. We had to flee from our own garbage! … and now it continues here in space.
31.07.2080 (BC) / day 9120 (AGF)
A letter to my son.
Hi. You were born this morning, my precious boy. Mom and I decided to name you Christopher, same as one of the great travelers of the past. While you enjoy a balmy sleep in a medical compartment, I am waiting for my turn to service the ice biocapsules out there… And even though I’ve done it hundreds of times – each new spacewalk is a challenge. Especially now, as most of all I want to be close to you and mom.
I would like to tell you a little about our old home – Earth. Long ago, when your mom and I were children, we lived on the planet. Yes, yes! the real planet! – when you grow up a little, you will know more about them in school and in the simulator at the main station. I wrote a small app for you – try it there some time: you will see our street with a row of houses and the place where I grew up. The planet itself was fantastic! Covered by endless oceans and seas, forests and mountains. Intricate network of roads connected thousands of gigantic cities. The cities were somewhat similar to our space stations, only much larger. Back in the old days everything on a planet was subjected to gravity, just as everything in Universe. We have always stood on our own two feet and have never been more confident in anything but gravity! It shaped the whole world as we know it and kept us on the ground.
People have always aspired to knowledge, new horizons, new discoveries. All forms of energy were tamed, the human genome was decoded and became fully controlled. The nearest space has been developed and commercialized. But it all was like going over a lawn in front of a house! Unraveling the essence of gravity was a real breakthrough! Finally, we learned to alter the ratio of volume and mass, yet on a small scale – but even that was absolutely incredible. Cities stretched to the sky and we got the opportunity to fly through the clouds just like birds – ideas we had dreamed of for so long. The two-dimensional surface of our planet turned into three-dimensional space. But every cloud has a silver lining! Once control was lost and nature fought back. No one really knows what really happened. The slightest experiments with gravity led to disastrous consequences. Maybe the slightest fluctuation in the ratio of atomic structure, maybe interaction of matter and neutrino… The Earth stirred up with unpredictable earthquakes and endless tsunamis sweeping the coasts. There was no end to them. The time of life on a planet that had been forming for billions of years was in her last weeks. And as a resident flees from a house that is being shaken by an earthquake, grabbing only the most precious thing on the run, so mankind has fled the planet. Almost everything that was created and built on Earth is lost for good. Almost everything…
We ended up in space alone. Like a tourist with a backpack and compass in an unknown location, we know only the direction and destination name. And though we’ve lost a roof over our heads, we have preserved everything that makes us humans.
Our culture, our knowledge, and even bits and traces of wildlife! Now we are all in the same boat – everyone is equally important. There are no weapons and wars here as there is nothing to fight for and there is no need to prove anything to anyone. We’re all part of a single organism and each stands for each other because anything can happen on the move. So, to some extent, this is a better world than it ever was. We rebuilt our homes, our museums, our schools and our hospitals right in space on the way to our final destination. Although we no longer gaze at sunsets and dive into coral reefs we still love to play football and watch movies. We fall in love and get married, raise children and send the old men on their final journey. Here we have a real zero-waste production and consumption. The bodies of our ancestors feed the trees, which give us oxygen. So the irony is that cemeteries are life. What matters here is who you become when you grow up. You can work at oxygen stations – there is always clean air, plants and flowers all around you. Perhaps you will grow food, heal people like your mother or become an architect like your grandfather on Earth back then. Maybe you’ll be the one to build new stations on the way to our new planet? I don’t know. Maybe you are destined to compose a new cosmic symphony or become an exobiologist like me. After all, someone needs to take care of animals while they are in their cryosleep, right?
Once upon a time our Earth was inhabited by wandering people, called nomads. They traveled from place to place orienting themselves by the stars and never staying anywhere for long. Their life was a road: day gave way to night and forests changed with deserts. Now all of humanity is one endless caravan of nomads in a vast blank space. Cold, lifeless, but undeniably beautiful. This line of ships and stations stretches for thousands of kilometers. One of them is our new home – a cabin on deck nineteen. And you even have your own room overlooking the Andromeda galaxy. Yeah, we won’t have any temporary stops where we camp. We will not get out of the ship and stretch on the grass in the sun. The only and final destination – Proxima B. And it is hundreds of years away. Every year we get closer and learn more about it. There is water and atmosphere – exactly what we are looking for. We do not yet know how it will meet us. Only your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will…
Time is running out, my dear. I have to put on a spacesuit and take the shift. Into space, in the cold, in the abyss! The temperature sensor is failing again with a pair of blue whales. They’re our favorites, you know! We call them Bonnie and Clyde. Caught and frozen on the last day before Grand Flight. Someday they’ll be crossing the oceans of Proxima, together with local exotic creatures… I have to go now. Hugs and kisses to you and mom.
“Congratulations on your completion of the AI implantation update operation.”
I opened my eyes, and the general feeling was the same as before, but my body and mind seemed to be more relaxed, and I felt more cheerful. I stood up and found that my left leg, which was injured in a traffic accident, was able to move like before it was hurt. I lowered my head and saw one more bottom on my chest, glowing with a faint blue light. After pressing the button, a system interface floating in the real world appeared before my eyes. I operated the interface with gestures and booked a trip to the space amusement park, one of the most popular vacation destinations nowadays. The system shows that I have an AI level of 87%, and I am currently a high level AI-symbiosis new human. The old human body parts I was born with have been mostly replaced by mechanical parts in the last few procedures, and the AI system and my brain are symbiotic.
In 2120, the combination technology of AI and human has become very mature. With the popularity of human AI in the world, these new era super humans have broken through the limitations of the original human body. Some of them began to travel around the world on foot, some immigrated to Mars, and some embarked on interstellar travels, looking for other planets where humans can settle.
Having been long into the era of full automation, humans only need to perform a minimal amount of maintenance work, and the remaining 90% of the time can be free to themselves, so the entertainment industry had an explosive growth. Human beings gradually became dissatisfied with activities on the Earth, and took interest in the boundless space of the outer space. The developer tycoons have since established a countless number of playgrounds, hotels, parks, and stadiums in space for humans to kill their free time at hand. And these amusement establishments without traditional gravity restrictions have created a brand new experience for mankind. Super humans can use their own AI system to freely establish different levels of localized micro-gravity fields towards any plane of mass. In such a space, the top and bottom can be turned upside down carelessly. The planes are crisscrossed, and super humans can shuttle freely from one to another.
(Space time 18:00, system entry…)
I took the spacecraft to the space amusement park station. The world is colorful and intertwined. All kinds of activities extend, intersperse, and converge on the plane. Even though this is a brand new space, we no longer need traditional living spaces such as bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens, I have still discovered many familiar everyday objects from Earth. For example, my favorite food. After becoming highly mechanically enhanced, I no longer need to eat regularly to obtain nutrition for energy, but seeing these well-glazed beautiful desserts still makes me drool. I moved along the transfer ladder from the pool level to the Living level, then to the camping level, and stayed in the popular space meadow camp. With stars in the galaxy and, what I thought to be, fireflies everywhere, I lay on the grass and chatted with people from all over the world.
(Space time 22:00, system entry…)
Space Pub is open. This is a polyhedral space where people play on different planes. Surrounded by the music, I was swaying my body on the dance floor giving it my best moves, and these planes seemed to rotate in reaction to the music. I was jumping between different planes, and the world before me was as colorful as if I were constantly staring into a kaleidoscope.
(Space time 6:00, system entry…)
Everyone came to the green space one after another. I was shocked and enchanted when I looked at this circular structure carrying a huge ecosystem. Out of curiosity, I climbed a cone-shaped suspended green island, and looked into the distance. Some people were diving in the heart of the lake, while others walked among the dazzling flowers. Heavily vegetated islands of spherical, cubic, and various other shapes float up and down in this circular green space. I am immersed in the surrounding greenery and starry sky, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of this translucent moment.
(Space time 12:00, system entry…)
The Space Fighting Hall is about to get its most highly anticipated main event of the night started, and I finally found my seat among the crowd. The fighting arena is a huge octagonal cage, where top AIs from all over the world compete. And the complex interfering gravity system, all kinds of obstacles, make the fighting field itself dangerous. Watching the intense fight in front of me, I was so excited that I couldn’t help but follow the crowd cheering and shouting.
(Space time 16:00, system entry…)
This is the space AI control center, responsible for maintaining the functional operations of symbiotic new humans. By evaluating and testing the data cache and system status of each individual, the information center will formulate corresponding maintenance and upgrade plans to ensure that each new AI human can safely experience various activities here. After completing the routine check, I chose to call it a day.
(Space time 18:00, system entry…)
Boarding the spacecraft returning to Earth, having enjoyed here so much, I wonder when I could do this again.
New horizons have shaped the destiny of humanity. Not restricted to any colour, age, or gender, we all share a longing to search for new opportunities from the unknown, as if it is engrained into our DNA. Now the mysteries of our planet have been uncovered, so finding new opportunities means we must extend our reach out into the stars. The vast void of space is our ocean, our roads and our sky, guiding us to new land unknown. To get there, we must first conquer our solar system. Our ancestors once created the first cities on earth, providing the template for long term settlements around the world today. Now we, the people of the 21st century, must do the same.
“Space is hard,” the old cliché will continue to prove true until we can build in space as we do on earth. The resources to venture out into the unknown exist within the unknown itself. As the earth slowly revolves around the sun, we pass more than 1.9 million asteroids, which forms the asteroid belt. For humanity, this is our next frontier, a brand-new possibility in research and technology, a future of expansion, infinite materials, and of course, a belt of floating cash. This is where we must go to build the foundations for our cosmic future.
So the new space race began in 2020, building the infrastructure to mine in space. The Forge marched ahead of its game, strategically built from minimal earth materials, providing the essentials for survival. The small number of near-earth asteroids provided the initial materials to transform The Forge into a thriving settlement, where miners, scientists and astronauts lived, worked, and built a brighter future. Once large enough, it was ready to relocate to the asteroid belt, where the station fed on the endless resources, allowing reproduction, reconfiguration, and the growth of a city like system.
The year is 2080 and, until now, The Forge has been officially flying in orbit in its full composition for 10 years. It has accomplished 7 full orbits, with a full crew of approximately 2700 staff. Today, it is going to complete its 8th orbit, which heralds the departure of 48 old crew members, but 52 new workers from earth now get to do their part towards the longevity of mankind, and I was lucky enough to be drafted amongst them.
As the spaceship approaches the settlement, The Forge emerged from the cosmic dust, as the outline of the first off-earth colony grew clearer. From the outside, it appears to consist of thousands of parts clustered together, looking exactly like how people describe it: a metal coral in the sea of stars. They said the designers of this configuration used a form of AI, leveraging genetic algorithms and generative design to select from thousands of iterations. The best performance emerged as the settlement, with metrics like walkability, accessibility, and diversity examined and maximised through the design. I hope this is true, after all I’ve already signed a 15-month contract and there’s no going back for now.
“Knowing that there will be new people joining us after sending off our old friends indeed makes the farewell easier.” A strong voice woke me up from my thoughts. “Hello crew, I am Andrew from mission control and I’ll give you a brief introduction of this station before you all get settled. I believe you are all very excited to join The Forge on its 10th anniversary. Well, as you all know The Forge launched its first cluster of modules from earth in the 2020s, moving to the belt in the 50s and it took 20 years just to grow to this scale. So technically speaking, it’s the 30th or even 60th anniversary of the station, however you want to see it. Welcome on board, ladies and gentlemen.”
“I have to say I am probably one of the oldest members on board at the moment and I’ve been working here as part of the mission control team for 15 years. My supervisor, Mr. Anderson is one of the oldest crew members. He had been working here for 12 years when I first met him. He has seen the gradual growth of this station, from the size of the earliest International Space Station, to this massive habitat that we all live in now. I can still remember him telling me about the old days: 30 crew members, 10 modules, 15 mining ships, and not even with a single bar! Every part of the station you see and live in now, are constructed from materials extracted from asteroids, 3D printed by our manufacturing factory. The earliest modules that were brought from earth and launched in space have since been replaced. The station will be in orbit for 15 months before we can get any form of supply from earth. Not to say that we will need much, it is mostly for commercial export, crew movement, personal requested items and of course latest technology from earth. Other supplies such as food are all locally produced. Your colleagues will now lead you to your accommodation. Make sure you get more than 6 hours’ sleep every day or at least spend 7 hours in your cabin if you want to return to earth with your heart still functioning. The accommodation module is the only module that has pseudo-gravity and it is vital for your health. You will meet your supervisors on site tomorrow. And last but not least, we are extremely happy to have you here.”
“Sue, nice to meet you. I believe I live next door to you. I’m Sakamoto.” He reached out his hand. “Your personal belongings are all transported to the nearest dock and unloaded directly to your cabin.”
“Thank you.” I said, shaking his hand. “And nice to meet you too, Sakamoto.”
Sakamoto then led me through the station all the way to my cabin. Moving in a 3-dimentional environment without gravity is actually more efficient than I thought. I have had training on earth, but it still took me some time to adjust and get used to. The agriculture module was the last module we went through before reaching our accommodation, and the biggest. Sakamoto said there are more than 10 types of vegetation grown in this module and 10 times as efficient as on earth, and this is what all the crew live on. The whole process is highly automated, with just a few staff operating this massive production line. The plants rely on pseudo-gravity, which is created by the spinning of cylinders, and artificial lighting to grow. Seeing these massive cylinders of spinning greenery actually makes me feel a lot closer to ‘living’ in the station now.
“Below us now is the health consultancy. If you are not feeling well don’t hesitate to ask them.” Sakamoto did not realize how amazed I was by the view in front of me.
“That’s convenient.” I muttered.
“Well, according to the architects who designed The Forge, you should be able to reach everything you need within 5 minutes, which basically forms a district. When the station first formed, each district was pretty much the same with similar functions, similar events, and similar entertainment. However, throughout time, each district developed their own culture and identity, which also gave you a reason to travel outside the proximity circle. For instance, if you like beer, the bar in district 12 is the best. It’s a bit far but definitely worth it. The whole settlement is made up of 15 types of modules, each with a unique function and designed around human comfort. We can access pretty much all of them, but some places require authority, such as the labs, the mission control, and some of the storage modules. You won’t come across these areas much anyway. They are mostly on the margins of the station.”
Seeing the entrance of the residential module made me excited. It has been a month since I last felt gravity. Although it is only 0.4g, it felt as natural as 1g as I arrived in the cabin layer. I thanked Sakamoto for showing me the way and spent the rest of the day in my cabin resting. From the window of my room, as I look upon my new horizon, I see The Forge slowly melting its way through the asteroid belt, forging our new frontier.
Not very long ago. It was obvious from the daily life of the younger generation in the earliest years of the 21st century… The modern age was about to end. New discoveries, explorations and research were being announced while consumerism was the source of energy for every nation in its race to figure out the epicenter of this new, upcoming era. Knowledge, information, data had become an open source in the face of a global network of interactivity and connectivity yet; they were being located under the shadows of tall, never-ending, ever-growing skyscrapers.
In biology of the ecosystems, if the resources are limited in a closed ecosystem (our world) and the population of the species is increasing, the ecosystem can only support a limited number of individuals. We know that nature has a unique power of modifying the ecosystem with natural selection. But if the speed of consumption is increasing rapidly without any time for evolving naturally, how are we going to decide who are the few to be the consumers?
That’s how we were born. We were the ones who didn’t believe in socio-economical hierarchy. We were the ones who didn’t believe in manipulated, artificial, controlled information. We followed the science and the rules of the nature and the universe. We were scientists, engineers, writers, thinkers, workers, artists… We didn’t have any lands, countries, borders or races; we were all one. We were a whole with individual unique minds and perspectives. We created Capella; and we became the ones who chose to leave our home ecosystem.
Morin-02, Capella Space Fleet
Today I was watching Mars. It was so close. One day only. One more day left for Capella to orbit in Martian atmosphere. As a neurologist, I’ve come to know the theory of emotion creation and its effects in human psychology, yet, I can still not define this ignition inside me. A feeling of leaving family, home, friends, memories, but at the same time a feeling of a new start, new memories, without prejudice and manipulation.
I met this man on the deck. He is a handyman who repairs the machines in the Ideagloos. He was telling me all about the diversity of people he met while working and his observations on the machines that he most commonly fixes. He usually works on the joint of batteries and virtual reality devices…
He might have a point. Maybe the human mind cannot stop consuming (energy) and producing (new realities).
“The object of the idea constituting the human mind is the body”, Spinoza once said. As we kept on questioning the human mind, we got more and more lost in the complexity of its structure. The discussion over whether the mind creates reality, or reality creates the mind was always a question between the ancient philosophers and was still one for us.
We were living individually in square-planned robotic rooms. The rooms were designed based on a kind of virtual reality borne by the human mind. The production of this virtual reality was connected to our mind. The environment we were in was filled with robots arranging the shapes and materials around us based on our own imagination. All the activities, hobbies, or places we could experience were just one imagination away from becoming our reality. Under the illusion of reality, we could create a diversity of rooms as vast as the infinite world of ideas, we could ski, parasail, skydive, we could be in any place, any nature if only we imagined.
We named these rooms “Ideagloos”.
4th Sector Ideagloo 71/D, Capella Mars Colony
Today I started my day by waking up in beach house in a tropical isolated island. I ate some food and my friends here in Capella told me that we are going to ski today. It was very good until we decided to skydive afterwards. I really got scared and turned off my system. I think I’m very afraid of heights…
We were going crazy. The number of people who got out of their Ideagloos and released themselves into space was increasing day by day. As we started to transmit our consciousness to virtual reality, we were able to share other people’s consciousness as well. We were experiencing others minds as if we were consuming other memories to expand our own perception and creativity.
Suddenly we were sharing the other families and friends like ours. The memories we lived could be visualized in our brains, emotions and senses. The interaction between individuals was so fast that the concept of a self was gone. The language we were using became inadequate… Telepathy was now our communication tool.
M0034521245, Mars Orbit
I feel like I am losing my senses. Somehow, I still remember the last human in me; a never-ending state of existence. Not physically. “The suffer never ends”; I talk to myself. Spiritually but never physically… I remember the last day of humanity. It came with the acceptance of losing.
One and zero… Being and absence… We were lost in this illusion we created. We knew that the only thing necessary for the continuation of this illusion that we called life, was energy.
Days, months, years… It was of no importance to us anymore. The sun always had to be with us. The time was not just hours, weeks, years or centuries at that point. All we needed was energy.
Birth and death… Life became a choice for all of us. Lifelessness too. We could maintain our vitality as long as we could find energy, and the sun was always there for us.
xx/xx/xxxx, 0010100111010110, Solar System
I want to close my eyes. My eyes are not there anymore. I want to listen to the music of the universe. I want to hear one’s voice. I want to share. I find myself listening to the music of the universe; the great sound of infinity.
The only thing, I cannot stop it. ̵͕̼̮͚̮̫̥̘̖͖̖͔̥̙̂̋̄̍̂̆͌̊̀͜ḩ̴̦̥̫͎̟̘͓̦̘̘̳̽̑̽̐̎̈̇̀͛̎̀̀o̵̭͔̙̺̠͋̄͂ẅ̷̡̢̢̗͓̯̬̗͓̗̩̳́̋̕ͅ ̴̨̛͖̹̯̰̜̥̙͈̭̩̃̔̈́͑̄͗͌̓̚͝͠ͅͅe̴͎̯̹͇̺̓̈́̚v̴̨̩̼̲̹̣̪̭͖͗̓̋̅͐̑̇̀̆͛͂͑̐̕ȩ̷̦̫̬̦͕̠̭̤̙̲̟͐̑͑̍̒͘ͅr̶̬̥͔̀̋͒̃̾̔́͜ȳ̷̜̞̆͐̋̇̽̂̑̑͋̃͘̚ ̸̛̭͓͍͓̠͍̻̬̙̙̙̿͑̉͐͑̓͑͌͘̚͠ͅč̵̱́m̴̨̟̥̲̬͈͎͔̞͕̓̄͛̐̐͝n̴̡̘̟̲͙͊͐͝
And there, insanity strikes back again. ̵͕̼̮͚̮̫̥̘̖͖̖͔̥̙̂̋̄̍̂̆͌̊̀͜ḩ̴̦̥̫͎̟̘͓̦̘̘̳̽̑̽̐̎̈̇̀͛̎̀̀o̵̭͔̙̺̠͋̄͂ẅ̷̡̢̢̗͓̯̬̗͓̗̩̳́̋̕ͅ ̴̨̛͖̹̯̰̜̥̙͈̭̩̃̔̈́͑̄͗͌̓̚͝͠ͅͅe̴͎̯̹͇̺̓̈́̚v̴̨̩̼̲̹̣̪̭͖͗̓̋̅͐̑̇̀̆͛͂͑̐̕ȩ̷̦̫̬̦͕̠̭̤̙̲̟͐̑͑̍̒͘ͅr̶̬̥͔̀̋͒̃̾̔́͜ȳ̷̜̞̆͐̋̇̽̂̑̑͋̃͘̚ ̸̛̭͓͍͓̠͍̻̬̙̙̙̿͑̉͐͑̓͑͌͘̚͠ͅč̵̱́m̴̨̟̥̲̬͈͎͔̞͕̓̄͛̐̐͝n̴̡̘̟̲͙͊͐͝
The first law of thermodynamics was explaining that the total energy of an isolated system was constant; energy could be transformed from one form to another, but it could neither be created nor destroyed. But what if the energy that we needed to consume had no limits?
The light that we cannot absorb and consume became a waste for us. And in order to collect the maximum amount of the light, we needed to be placed together. We were getting more and more embracing, becoming more and more engaged.
The energy we absorbed was so immense that we were hotter than our sun. Our mass became so enormous that no photon could escape from us.
There was no light outside. Even if there was, we would be able to absorb it. Was this becoming familiar? We have reached Singularity. In fact, we were the singularity.
I̴̩̺̯̯̭͇̹͕̱̬͈͓̞̹̲͑́̾̾͛̀ ̷̝̫̘̫̹̝̰͓̰̪̐̓͛̈́̀̋̇̂̈́̈́̕͜͠ͅl̸̲͇̯̲̔̀͐̋̇̉̒͂́̓͋̕̕͝ŏ̴̧̺̖̤̟̩̲̰̬͓̺͓͇̿̔̀̂͆̆͒̿̏v̴̢̖̟͕̺̈̂̀̍̉͌̆̑̿͜͜ẽ̸̥͇̼͚͗̿̊̒͜ ̵͕̼̮͚̮̫̥̘̖͖̖͔̥̙̂̋̄̍̂̆͌̊̀͜ḩ̴̦̥̫͎̟̘͓̦̘̘̳̽̑̽̐̎̈̇̀͛̎̀̀o̵̭͔̙̺̠͋̄͂ẅ̷̡̢̢̗͓̯̬̗͓̗̩̳́̋̕ͅ ̴̨̛͖̹̯̰̜̥̙͈̭̩̃̔̈́͑̄͗͌̓̚͝͠ͅͅe̴͎̯̹͇̺̓̈́̚v̴̨̩̼̲̹̣̪̭͖͗̓̋̅͐̑̇̀̆͛͂͑̐̕ȩ̷̦̫̬̦͕̠̭̤̙̲̟͐̑͑̍̒͘ͅr̶̬̥͔̀̋͒̃̾̔́͜ȳ̷̜̞̆͐̋̇̽̂̑̑͋̃͘̚ ̸̛̭͓͍͓̠͍̻̬̙̙̙̿͑̉͐͑̓͑͌͘̚͠ͅč̵̱́m̴̨̟̥̲̬͈͎͔̞͕̓̄͛̐̐͝n̴̡̘̟̲͙͊͐͝ ̶̡͎̼̬͈̣̙͗́̑̀͜ͅṅ̸͇̻͎̙̱̳̲̜̊̑ ̴̧̧̛̥̞̘̼͆́͛̏ḧ̵̙̬͈́̄i̴͈̪͓͂̏͐̽̌͝ś̶̨̢̛͓̖̆̏́́̾̑̓̔͒̿p̴̦̩̿̈̂̌̀͐̆̈́̕̕͝͠a̴̺̖̥̜̲̼̫͍̣͐̅̋̂̚͜͝͝g̶̻̩͔͎̙͎͓̮͑̂́e̵̫͍͋͒̐͑͐̍́̈́͋̊̆͝͠ ̵̢̯̻͖͖̠̪̄͊͆ș̴̡̩͖̞̊̀̃͑͛̓͗̈͌͂͘ ̵̝͗̋̽̊̀̽̌̈́̔̏t̵̡̝̥̅̑̎̔͘ͅi̷̧̹͊̿͊̊̾̀͑̒̒̕͜͝ ̸͙̹͖͆͗̿̿̈́̐́̾͑̀̚͝͝f̵͉͚̹͖͔̺͆̎̀̕͠n̴̨̰̬͙͎̘͎̔͜t̴̛̛̳̣̍͛̔̉͆̑͌ ̶͈̲̹̯̠̮̣̣̤̹̹̘̌̾͒ͅI̵̧͕̞͖͕̥͌̏̂͆̃̈͝ͅ ̴̖̯̐̐̀́̆̃́̎̃̚ứ̴̛̫̀͋͌̿̐͋̀͊̇̕͠e̵͔͓͚̞̼̝̯̾͐͌̈͠s̸͙͚͌̐s̴̨̺̹̮̬̗̟̳̰͔̺̦̆͊̚͜ ̸̢̠̻̞͚̰̅̿̃͋̄i̴͕͉̲̐̆̔ț̶̛̙̜̳͖͍́̄̎̏͂̇́̚͜͝s̷͓̳̻̓̃̄̓͂̂̀j̴̡̰̼̘̝͛̍̐̕ǘ̷̬̩̘̗̙͖̖̺͂̾̋͝s̷̡̪̖̭̤̣̠̜̮͚̯̮̻̠̚ț̷̞̠̝̭͈̯͂̔̆̽͊̈̚̕ͅ ̶̘̱͑̒ ̶̜͍̤̙̬̖̑̂̓̊̓͊͘͝ͅţ̴̪͈̥͚̠̗͉̗̪̘͋̑͋͗́͜ḧ̴̡̧̠͇̲͕̤͇̦̠̫́̈́i̴̛̯̣͍͖̪̥̭̊̆̌̿͌̃n̵͓̣̫͌̀͊̓́̏̈́͌̈́͌̚͘̚n̴̯̾̈́͂̽̌͊͗̑̓̐̎̕ͅo̸̡̹̞͉̞̬͙̽̽͂͌̚͜͝ẃ̷̡̛̹̂̀̆͛.̴̮̯̩̯͙̬͔̟͍̼̈̓̐̀ͅ
The light above my door finally flickers to life. I feel my pulse begin to rise and my excitement grow in anticipation – that light means the ship’s AI has identified a suitable planet and has directed a course for approach. I head to my terminal to signal the AI to have the rest of the crew exit stasis. Soon, the rest of the crew will be up and ready to begin preparation for impact. We’ve found a new world.
Being the rookie member of the team, I’ve had a few extra shifts when taking turns being out of stasis. It’s boring work, if I’m being honest – watching the crew’s vitals, performing maintenance on the ship and drones, and running the same sub-routines to check for errors in code. The ship’s AI is so advanced, I don’t even think it’s necessary to have someone awake at all – the thing basically runs on autopilot. Complaints aside, I change into my suit and helmet, and proceed to initiate the HUD to come online. I hear voice comms beginning to patch through from the other ships in the fleet, taking turns to confirm their landing locations and exchange greetings.
“Daedalus 02 checking in, confirming landing in LZ-014,” I nervously offer up.
All protocol completed, I pull the latch to my personal quarters and the door locks begin to hiss and release. In my head, all I can think about is landing, and my mind wanders to what this new landscape will look like – an untouched planet. This isn’t just any planet – the AI on the ship has been scanning the chemical and atmospheric composition of every planet we have encountered on our mission so far, looking for one that can be made to support human life. It has been almost a year since we set off in search of the next planet to add to the Homeworlds, and it has taken that long just to find one. At the rate that the human population is growing, we may already need to begin searching for the next one straight away.
As I make my way through the bulkhead of the main hangar, I feel the ship’s hull begin to creak and shake softly. We’ve hit the planet’s atmosphere. A low rumble fills the air, and a soft red glow is emitted from the sleeping drones lining the walls. I step up to the control terminal, my footsteps ringing off into the hollow void, and input the command to drop the outer blast doors. As they slowly open, a piercing light punches through the darkness of the space.
The brightness shines off the cold metal of the ship, revealing the swarm of sleeping drones and mechs, and for the first time in months, I feel the warm glow of natural light. As the atmosphere begins to clear, I look through the plasma air-lock and see my first glimpse of the human-race’s next blank canvas. So much potential – all I can picture is the towering metropolis to be, a bastion of humankind’s achievement in the expansion into space.
The rest of the crew joins me, and we discuss responsibilities and workflows. I check the terminal and push through a last-minute firmware update from AtlasCorp to have the AI ready to begin construction. Building an entire world is no simple task, and everything must run at peak performance to ensure that it all operates seamlessly. The drones need to work in unison with hive-mind efficiency and resources need to be managed correctly to ensure that the printing mechs can continuously produce components to build the new metropolis.
The time has come. We’ve landed and it is time to take our first steps on our new planet. I scan the horizon and see sharp mountains rising in the distance and uninterrupted pristine landscape in all directions. I’ve never seen anything like this. Growing up in one of the newer Homeworlds, I never experienced anything that resembled the Earth that I had learned about as a child. It’s hard to believe that reality could be anything other than the constructs of the metropolis that I knew.
The senior crew members, unfazed with the sight before us, start making preparations for the machines to mobilize. The command is given to the AI and the drones and mechs begin to whir into action. The crew and I leave the machines to disperse and make our way up to a vantage point to survey the swarm taking flight.
The flying drones trickle out from the Daedalus and slowly make their way up to a swarm. Like a beehive, they begin to fly out in a continuous stream, communicating to each other with ruthless efficiency. On the ground, the printing mechs begin to collect the raw materials in order to refine and process printable material for construction components. The beginnings of an entire human world are starting to be built in front of my eyes.
A quick HUD beep on the comms snaps me out of my awestruck moment, and I hear the other teams in the fleet confirming successful deployment. The decision is made to head back up to the Daedalus to open a comm link with headquarters in order to debrief on the status of the mission. Congratulations and celebration in order, we begin to make our way back to the ship, but I stop when I see a ping on my HUD that one of the drones has malfunctioned.
“I’ll get it,” I volunteer.
I know I made no errors in my routine maintenance checks – everything should be in working order. I need to figure out what is going on, and I certainly don’t want to be blamed by the senior crew members for any mistakes. I tell the crew I will meet them back at the ship after I resolve the issue with the drone, and set off to follow the distress ping.
The beacon guides me to a dried-up ravine, and I begin making the climb down to find the malfunctioning drone. When I reach the bottom, I take a second to let my eyes wander around this new landscape and appreciate the serene, untouched nature. The daylight filters down through the dust I had just kicked up, playfully swirling and shimmering. The dark stones of the ravine provide the perfect backdrop for the light’s performance and I follow its dance until I trace the profile of a natural stone arch.
My heart nearly stops and my mind goes blank. As I come to, I feel my body go cold and my hands begin to shake. I can feel my heart beat again, and it is nearly hammering out of my suit. What am I looking at? A humanoid figure is standing atop the stone arch. Dust and light slowly swirl around it, shards of stone are suspended within the current. My mind races – the crew all returned to the ship, this figure can’t be one of them. I try to rationalize it as a joke being played on the youngest member of the crew by the older members, but that’s impossible. My mind goes blank again.
I don’t know when exactly I start running, my body almost acting on its own, as the world around me fades in and out of focus. The thoughts run through my mind faster than I can follow. Could the AI have made a mistake and not identified life on this planet? Is this the first contact with an alien lifeform? What if this isn’t the first time this has happened – mankind has claimed multiple planets, always believing that it was our right as space frontier explorers. Our rapid expansion faces no opposition, all financed by AtlasCorp… or maybe that’s what we are all made to think.
For the first time, I begin to doubt the nature of my job, and everything humankind has subscribed to. The grasping hands reaching deep into space, that guaranteed our place in the universe – could they be built on lies? My mind is conflicted that what we are doing – what I am a part of – could be wrong. One thing is for certain though, and it is repeating over and over again in my head, “We are not alone.”
Similar to the 49ers of the 19th century that set out on a treacherous journey to California in search of riches during the Gold Rush, the 2149ers are a second wave of pioneers in the 22nd century Their mission: to discover wealth beyond their wildest dreams amongst the millions of asteroids that orbit in Saturn’s Rings. When Voyager 3, Saturn’s last probe, provided evidence of a new element, word spread around the world fast. Only a few hundred million kilometers from Earth, the abundance of asteroids that float adrift could contain trillions of dollars’ worth of Nebulum. The Gold Rush of 1849 saw thousands of migrants’ travel from all around the world to seek wealth. Some traveled thousands of miles for many months in uncomfortable conditions. This same drive and passion are seen amongst the 2149ers as they travel by spacecraft at tens of thousands of km/h for years at times to reach their claims. Nebulum has an atomic weight twice that of gold at 158 with properties previously unbeknownst to man. Its genesis led to the founding of ASTER; an asteroid mining corporation dedicated to the goal of mining Nebulum to provide an energy source to power cutting edge space travel technology.
Asteroid mining is the spark of space colonization, it serves as the cash crop for future expansion into intergalactic development. The true value of asteroid mining lies in the resources Nebulum provides for building the infrastructure for deep space travel. Like the Boom Towns in the 1850’s created by the Gold Rush, colonies will emerge around these asteroid claims. New cities and economies will surge through outer space as technology advances. The spirit of adventure and legacy serve as the driving force for these individuals. We will follow the journal of Dean Wallace, an asteroid mining pioneer, as he documents his journey.
Panama Passenger #324
Log 1: February 17th, 2149
On the morning of February 17th, 2149, at Launch Bay No. 4, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where our vessel lay, a crowd had gathered— families, journalists, nondescript onlookers, and friends who had come to take a last view and bid us farewell. We buckled into our seats amid hundreds of voyagers who sought the same dreams of space exploration. Around us gathered the brotherhood, who from hasty greetings turned their anxious faces toward friends on the western launch head. There were wives and children, sons and daughters, friends and loved ones, venting their pent-up grief at parting. The trembling voices, tearful eyes, and saddened faces were not only on land. Passing through the clouds was never more beautiful. Many were occupied by maintaining consciousness under the immense pressures of lift off. On either side was the beautifully gentle curve of the Earth, as vibrant blues turn to colorless nothing as our home soon faded away to the deep abyss of space. Forward, the spaceship Panama, moved to the “Golden Gate” of our own destined port, while the diminishing planet was fading away behind us. The feelings of weightlessness began as we exited Earth’s orbit and I felt the realities of my decisions weigh down on me. This would be my fate for the next 38 months. I will have plenty of time to reflect on the opportunities of wealth that Saturn’s rings hold for us.
Log 2: February 10th, 2153
This is human nature, here and everywhere—human weakness and human selfishness. As we lay stake to our claims amongst the rings and millions of asteroids, the company divided into parties of men, each cataloging the asteroids to commence prospecting. We are told to search for S-Type asteroids as they contain the most silicon and highest likelihood of containing Nebulum. These S-Type asteroids make up less than 0.0003 percent of the rings. The success of one person in a hundred is applauded, exciting the multitudes into hope. While the failure of the ninety-nine is not printed or even reported. The ninety-nine generally choose to say nothing, and the world takes no note of their disappointments. We searched for months with no luck in the outer rings, often contemplating the existence of value in any of these flying rocks. It’s when you reach your all time low that you strive the hardest. It was February 10th, 2153 when we caught our first glimpse of fortune. We decided to search in the inner rings where the gravitational pull is dangerously strong and risks seizing our mining pods. It served as a tremendous risk but rewarded us monumentally. The asteroid was five and a half miles across, and estimated 215 billion tons, which means it could hold up to 100 trillion dollars of Nebulum. The feelings of eureka overwhelmed me.
Log 3: September 17th, 2156
I’ve never felt so small in my life. The Bagger 289 was built to mine whole asteroids. It seemed that the hardest part of this endeavor was at first the voyage as it took perseverance and patience, then it seemed the greatest struggle was the daunting, and at times hopeless task of discovering Nebulum. Now I’m enlightened to the laborious nature of the day to day task of excavation. The days grow long and tired, yet I never lose sight of my visions. The mines grow deeper each day and fortunes outweigh the expense tenfold. Now, with the discovery of Nebulum, the deployment of excavation teams has become a daily routine. And with that, certain cautions have begun to show up. Faulty asteroid collision alert equipment has led to the loss of five of our best prospectors. That is why the utmost care is taken when we mine. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that “If you are going to the mines for Nebulum —1st, you will find it hard work to tell where it is; 2nd, it will be harder still to get it; and 3rd, it will be the hardest thing in your life to keep it after you have got it.”
Log 4: January 6th, 2164
They always seem to disappear as quickly as they pop-up. Boomtowns turn to ghost towns as the mines run dry. Not one mining pod could handle a discovery load of this size. When word got out that inner ring XA7 was pay rock, the company launched all its mining efforts. With our discovery, Earth launched 12 more voyages en route full of eager prospectors and heavy equipment. We would need to start now if we want to be able to provide shelter for the new arrivals. We built docking stations, landing sites, underground encampments, and all the necessary preparations for the new heavy mining machinery. Large pods, spherical in shape and 60 feet in diameter, easily fit within large craters. From there, we excavated tunnels and linked up to other craters, eventually overtaking ravines and shaping them to our desire. These towns were built sub-asteroidean to protect us from harsh space radiation. And because our pods were equipped for the task, soon after operations began to run like clockwork.
Log 5: August 6th, 2179
As it is stated by one who has devoted their life to the study and extraction of this precious element, who is undoubted in their authority, that Saturn has been, and still is, the greatest producer of Nebulum in the Milky Way Galaxy. That the yield of Nebulum during the first thirty years amounted to $40,000,000,000,000. That 55,000 were engaged in the production. That the evolution of space travel and colonization has amounted to exponential advancement. The final frontier awards mankind the opportunity to seek out new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before, and ensure the prosperity of our species beyond the life of our home galaxy. The great 2149’ers will go down in history as not only the greatest act of pilgrimage and discovery, but also the most important step in the human race’s evolution towards interstellar colonization.
In search of habitable planets, the Mothership seeks a hierarchy of requirements amongst the candidate worlds. The most vital aspects of these requirements are physical necessities, e.g., temperature, gravity, air density, and pressure. If the physical needs are satisfied, the Mothership looks into specific chemical properties such as the composition of air, land, the abundance of water, etc. Subsequently, the Mothership will seek to ensure that the biome of the new world includes particular bacteria, plants, and animals that are necessary for the human living environment. Eventually, the last and most abstract layer of requirements to ensure the existence and aptness of the information layer for human experience to prosper and thrive in this new environment is the information layer. As we progress in this hierarchy, complexity and information density of the provisions increase, and their dependence on the planet’s materialistic features decreases.
The painter is sitting on a simple wooden chair. She is drinking tea and staring at the picture on the wall. The wall she is staring at is almost empty, and only an image of a nuclear explosion is mounted on it. Next to the image, a clock has stopped working for a while. The painter takes out her sketchbook and flips through it until she reaches a blank page. All the pages of the book have schemes of an amorphous entity being born.
Primitive humans on earth have created early cosmogonic myths and restructured it further by incorporating the latest change in their daily life. Therefore, myths have adapted to the social and cultural structure of the communities, maintaining their function as the unifying information layer of the human environment and reflecting on the latest technological advancements and cultural transformations. Moreover, this information layer facilitates the relation of humans between themselves and with their environment by lending shared identity through a series of symbolic images. These images try to answer a plethora of questions ranging in generalization levels, starting from the most generalized level of how this world came to be? down to the most personalized level of what is the purpose of my life?
Consequently, if we aim to inhabit humans on different planets, establishing an independent layer of information to provide for a shared identity is inevitable. The identity of individuals borrows from the shared information layer in the society, which ultimately establishes the commons that the more significant community is founded upon. The depiction of such a shared identity within a myth hinges around an event that has happened at illo tempore. This singular event marks an anchor in time -and sometimes in space- which can decrease the turmoil of existential crisis through the stability gained from reiteration and retelling the stories.
The Relaters aim to capture the conception of such a creation myth and formalize the genesis of such anchoring event in a visual narrative.
A forty-year-old photographer walks around the city and takes strange pictures of walls and doors. Photos are zoomed-in on very small or unusual details. One day in the darkroom of her home, when she removes her hand from a printed photo of a building, the photo is drawn between her hand and the picture, becoming three-dimensional, and comes to life.
How do we start a civilization in a new world without history? What does it mean to live in a contextless environment? Do we bring our history with ourselves, or do we allow it to emerge from scratch? How much of our current vision of the past has actually occurred? Are we really building upon the true historical events and cultural attitudes of the past? Do we rely upon mythology in our civilization? What does mythology provide for a civilization? On a new planet, how do we relate ourselves to the environment? How do we see ourselves within an alien context? Are we going to experience damnation memoriae in outer space to organize and structure communities? What do knowing and knowledge have to do with mythology? What if there were creatures that foretold our history to inaugurate our civilization?
Everyone said that one must be very lucky to live a life as good as Mr. Klein’s. But how could it be possible? Many people are not even given the opportunity to live ordinary lives. Especially in a city where people’s advancement was hampered by poverty and class distinctions. Perhaps all these induced Mr. Klein to build a colossal edifice and regenerate his life and memories there but not the same as a museum or a movie. People lived Mr. Klein’s life in his edifice; they had the same childhood, ate the same meals and even suffered from the same ailments as his. People who lacked the means to raise their kids, or couldn’t guarantee prosperous futures for them, didn’t have to risk it, or give way to lives filled with misery and pain for their kids. Many individuals also had other motivations for sending their kids there: just to have them experience Mr. Klein’s beautiful and well-established life without ever noticing anything.
These symbolic narratives often depict a transition process for the cosmos that frames an exemplified transition from chaos to order, which implicitly introduces -and reinforces- an arbitrary duality between two states of chaos and order. This mechanism will systematically embed certain dualities into the shared information layer of primitive communities. These dualities facilitate the internal organization of societies and implement an active orientation for the associations between groups and their environment, which would be crucial for the community’s survival. It is necessary to consider the role of these images as shared memories that helps the society to learn from the previous iterations and project simplified –yet, dense in information content- inclinations to the future. Distillation of these images will result in the utopias to move toward and dystopias to avoid. Therefore, it is vital to reflect on passing on these images to our descendants in other planets in the light of their societal maturity and civilization advancements.
The term myth -here- represents a collection of verbal and visual narratives that encapsulates the symbolic expression of perceived relations between humans and their environment. Myths are wrapped in a sacred layer that protects them against the natural deformation and erosion of concepts through time. Sacredness also stabilizes the amount of change that is possible to make in each given time frame. We deconstruct the idea of myth by projecting it into the future and reconstruct it in the context of human habitation in an alien world.
But He had no idea. Just like everyone else. He saw, and yet, He didn’t. As far as He could remember, He was born this way. Felt the heavy weight of the goggles on his head all the time. One day, He was on his way to his Hibernation Capsule down in his small house basement. It had been a day like any other. No one could complain. He saw no shortcomings in the life He saw. He turned on the basement lights, went towards the capsule and pushed its button to start. It took off his clothes, picked up his arms and legs and took him inside the capsule. It gave him the routine doze of sedation. And then, when it was taking his digital eyes off, it glitched. He screamed but He could not hear himself. The glitch had caused the transmitters to disconnect from his brain. It was painful. Suddenly He felt the capsule let go of his arms and legs. He hit the solid basement floor. He felt that the blood from the wound on his forehead filled his empty eyeballs, but He couldn’t see the blood. Couldn’t taste it, or smell it. All He could see was darkness. Infinite darkness. So, He started to think what this eyeball of blood looked like. Does it have a special sound when the blood moves? How does it smell? It was his first immediate encounter with his only intact sense: Touch. He tried to capture all the physical dimensions of the blood. He concentrated. “Think! Think! Think!” He swam with the waves of its movement. And suddenly, He was thrown to an unknown space. He was feeling a transformation into something totally different. Something… new.
A Relater is a projection of Prometheus into the multi-planetary future of the human race. It offers a visual narrative of how identity can be redefined in an environment without any history or background. It manifests a creation myth that has not happened yet but explains the relation between humans and their environment. It provides an orientation that can facilitate the internal organization of a community. It depicts a departure from the Mothership toward an unknown planet. Shortly after landing, it cascades narratives all over this new environment to stimulate the ultimate question, leading the colony to search for their creators, expecting answers—creators who were foretold by Relaters in their own image by sacrificing a piece of themselves.
Low earth orbit.
An orbit with an altitude less than two thousand kilometers above that desolate blue planet. Such an orbit results in a short orbital period, calculable using Sir Isaac Newton’s second law of motion and law of universal gravitation. Eager astronomers long ago raised their telescopes to witness this object – the brightest in the night sky, streak across their viewfinders several times per evening, but no longer. For many years now, nothing and nobody has observed this object as it continuously freefalls towards that ruined planet, taking 92 minutes and 42 seconds to complete one cycle of its endless, solitary sojourn.
92 minutes and 42 seconds.
Approximately 140,069 beats of an Etruscan shrew’s heart. Barely enough time for a sedge warbler to sing its unique song a dozen times. Nearly one tenth the entire lifespan of an adult mayfly. All and more of these organisms are contained within this archive, the sole remnant of the contents of all the terrestrial menageries and arboretums and seedbanks.
Contained within are a mere fraction of the millions of extant species that descended from the primordial soup eons ago. All except for one entirely free from the original sin that brought their only home to ruin. Stately avians, hulking proboscidea, faithful canines, each as blameless as the last for being the final surviving members of their species, but powerless to stop it all the same. Each is delicately interred in the loving embrace of cold sleep – a last and feeble token of humanity’s long overdue restitution. As an additional remnant, permanently stored in archival memory are the precious few kilobytes of data representing the unlikely product of how many hundreds, how many thousands, how many tens of millions of years of evolution: the sequenced genomes of all the known organisms that exist and once existed.
92 minutes and 42 seconds.
Long enough for a skilled artisan to weave a pair of Hawaiian leis. The amount of labour once needed to earn a handful of cowrie shells in the Maldives. Less than 0.1% of the time it took for a Rapa Nui islander to painstakingly carve a moai by hand. The relics and artifacts of these cultures and others are contained within this archive, with all else long since buried beneath the tides.
The Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, The Maldives. Those were some of the first casualties of climate change, but far from the last. 2028, the year the final Marshallese and Maldivian climate refugees evacuated from an already submerged Majuro and Malé coincided with the planned decommission date of the aging International Space Station. In that transformative year, a wave of social protest swept across the globe whose intensity far eclipsed even that fatefully tumultuous year six decades prior. The sea change ushered in by its aftermath managed to avert the fate of the aging ISS, and with it, the fate of humanity itself. With near unanimity, the new Global Union leadership – the successor to the UN, decided to once again fully devote humanity’s sights and resources toward the final frontier. As their flagship project, they dedicated to creating an enduring edifice to the great and terrible achievements of humankind upon that dying planet, an eternal archive built upon and expanding from the derelict husk of the ISS. Knowing all too well that their feeble levees and ineffectual breakwaters were powerless in the face of the unprecedented ravages wrought on that planet’s surface, they sought to leave their indelible mark on history by ensconcing this archive within the hollow vacuum of space, at the time, the solitary remaining borderline between mankind’s ambitious reach and its rapacious grasp.
92 minutes and 42 seconds.
Long enough to listen to a complete performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Less than one twenty thousandth the time it took Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Scarcely enough time to traverse by foot the entire Terracotta Army necropolis of the First Qin Emperor. Those men and many others who craved immortality would see their wish granted within this archive.
Disputes over heritage sites and museums and school curricula were nothing in comparison to the firestorm of controversy that erupted over the presumptive contents of this archive. Yet had this perilous project perished, humanity itself surely would have perished alongside. In the end, humankind’s better nature prevailed – too late to redeem their doomed planet, barely in time to imprint their legacy among the stars. Already the most expensive object created, its costs increased by orders of magnitude as the ambitiousness of the project swelled. It was to include the comprehensive ecology of that precious blue marble. The complete history and ethnology of its self-destructive tyrants. All of the auditory and visual artifacts of past and present – that which could not be sequestered within its halls erected on its surface, resulting in an infinitely layered amalgam of peaked spires and pendentive domes, everything from the Romanesque to the Oriental; a lingering reminder that sites from New York to Constantinople to Kyoto once existed.
92 minutes and 42 seconds.
0.00882% of the time for new innovations to once again double the number of transistors capable of fitting on an integrated circuit. Less than half the travel time from the ground terminal of a space elevator to geosynchronous orbit. More than long enough for the latest AGIs to fully parse the entirety of all accumulated human knowledge. The very cutting edge of humankind’s brilliance and hubris can all be found within this archive.
As billions watched the rockets streak daily across the skies of Cape Canaveral and Baikonour and Tanegashima, carrying the precious cargo of their species’ legacy, a long dormant spark of hope and aspiration was reignited. A second Space Race was begun in earnest; but rather than a competition between bitter rivals, a collaborative effort to save humanity. Innovations in the carbon nanotube manufacturing process soon allowed the material to line the exterior of the transformed ISS and extend into the heavens as space elevators. Nanorobotics breakthroughs spilled over from medical applications to form the basis for permanently sustainable, self-repairing architecture. Advances in AI research created general intelligences that would autonomously curate this archive and perform the calculations for the periodic reboosting needed to maintain a stable orbit. Rather than the ballistic missiles of the previous era, humanity’s brightest minds came together to design the terraforming techniques and generation ships that would ensure the continued existence of their species as they depart for the first and last time from their dying planet.
Perhaps humanity would continue to extend its reaches throughout this galaxy and beyond, even as the origin point of their humble species would soon become but a distant memory. Even still, this archive to their triumphs and folly, this last and greatest legacy, this pebble of rust and stardust will continue to orbit that ruined blue planet forevermore.
Call me Asterion, firstborn of Minos. Never have I left the base, not even the surface of Europa have I seen. This outpost is all I know. I’ve watched it grow, module by module, expanding in all directions like a stretching hand reaching into the abyss making a web of steel tubes and wire with nowhere to go.
Like most, my mother came for the promise of wealth, a new gold rush in the outskirts of Jupiter’s orbit. Of all of the Galileian Moons, Europa was the first to be colonized. First, just like the other moons, came the space organizations, which later on gave way to private ventures fueled by greed. Eventually these employed the desperate and willing to service their bidding, like my mother.
Before the widespread of recharging stations throughout the solar system, Minos was one of its kind. A must-stop for long space voyages to restore on hydrogen, oxygen and water, abundant resources due to Europa’s vast underground ocean (H2O), larger than all the bodies of water on Earth combined. The habitable station itself lies under a few kilometers of ice crust, where the ocean is liquid, protected from the harsh radiation and extreme temperatures of space. Several landing stations are located on the surface, with all of its appurtenances to service the ships. From landing docks, fueling tanks, refineries, rovers, hoses, etc., all are remotely controlled from the underground. It takes a few hours for the elevators to cross the ice barrier and reach the hanging city of Minos.
The city itself is made up of hundreds of cylindrical steel modules that are anchored to the ceiling of ice, connected with one another by flexible hatches. This spinal cord-like structure allows the station to move, relieving the stress of the ocean currents produced by Jupiter’s gravitational pull. The station is constantly rumbling, if not by the currents then by the vibrations of new modules drilling their way through the ice. Like the wrath of a beast’s belly, some say the station is its own metabolism.
I live in a 15 m2 bedroom, equipped with a bathroom and kitchenette. A concave window overlooks the ocean’s depth, minimalism at its finest. It’s one of the better living capsules here, an original NASA “SLQ-237 (space living quarters)”, to be envied by the damned. Most live in co-inhabited sleeping modules, a collective of coffin-like beds with a common bathroom and kitchen with no windows. Miserable spaces for temporary workers on a 3 year contract. If by the end of their obligation they wish to stay, better capsules are negotiable. Almost none do, their thirst of silver has been quenched; only the ones with nothing to go back to stay. All I’ve ever had is here.
Nowadays few spacecrafts stop to recharge on fuel or air; another resource nourishes the expansion of Minos. Its discovery first came to be in the early years, back when the station was purely scientific. The submarine Poseidon was sailing through unexplored waters of Europa when it came across a distant flickering of blue lights. As the crew approached, they noticed these fluorescent glows were emitted by the bodies of arachnid-like creatures roaming the ice canopy. We now know them as Water Bulls, so given their name because of their iconic horns. Meadowing the algae that grows on ice, in a slow almost sloth like manner, they stroll as if the cold water inhibits their limbs to go any faster. It’s ironic that a probe named after a God was the one to discover life beyond Earth, subsequently bringing all religions to its knees.
For years these creatures were the pride of the scientific community, studied from afar, but it did not take long for man to profane its discovery. All it took was a derailed supply ship for the inhabitants of Minos to turn on their ethics and consume the native fauna. After all, it was these same creatures which unveiled the truth of man’s construction of god; what held them back now from their primitive survival thoughts if nothing lies beyond death? Soon, Minos became the fishing port it is now. Each year a new company pierces the ice so they too can feast upon Europa’s life. While the water bull’s meat is to be served as a delicacy amongst the high society of Earth, on the station it’s the animal’s twisted intestines that are devoured.
Our gluttony did not come without a cost. The same pigment that gave the water bull its glow would eventually mark our own skin. It won’t happen to most, only the ones that have prolonged their stay have a slight bluish tone, almost transparent. In 33 years of living here, my light is like no other. My form is of human but my flesh is of beast. A true son of Minos. Do the others stare in awe? Do they look away in disgust?
Too long have I been a prisoner of this maze, and my body shows for it. I’ve lusted for quite some time to leave this place behind; my mind wanders off to distant lands, free of the confines of this metal inferno. Countless are the nights I dreamt of ascending into paradise. I gleefully look upward as the elevator takes me to the surface. The sun graces its beams for the first time upon me, yet my wings were not meant for such a flight.
(bzzzzzz……krrkkke…) [static signals crackles through the headset]
the sudden, incessant buzzing through the earpiece picked away at his brain as a he started to stretch into his body and fill the extent of his limbs, fingers and toes.
Gradients of blue atmospheric dust and debris lined his vision overhead, and for a split second, the sky seemed to expand into a nauseating, unintelligible vacuum of space. He lurched for the discharge tube as the lump in his throat came and went.
Initially reluctant to feel his body, he slowly sat upright, catching glimpses of a soft glow in the distance as the metallic sting in his mouth made the parched skin on his lips feel even more agitating.
(psssssssst) [high-pitch squeal of the water tank gauge]
“S***! You’ve got to be kidding me”, he muttered as the meter reading read out L-O-W on the main console.
(LOW-LOW-LOW) [console readout]
Strewn across the rugged floor, just meters away were objects that strangely resembled a past life. No, wait, he mumbled to himself, aren’t they illustrated in textbooks about mankind’s exploration of the Exoplanets? The little light that could puncture through the vapoursphere slipped beyond the horizon plunging him (back) into a pastel darkness.
I Conservatorium-Villam (11°24’12.2″S 6°10’26.5″W)
Log Entry 1821: 3 Luna Hours since Waking, limited water resource in the rear tank and maltodextrin administered approximately 30 LMin ago.
Drawn to the glowing orbs, I came to realise it was not one, but a series of freestanding posts that lit a canopy of…plant life? As I moved closer towards the seemingly endless patchwork of synthetic coverings over the terrain, the crisp crunch under my boots gave a sense of solace. With every meandering footstep, I could imagine biting into a fresh tomato and breaking through the tension of its thin skin to reach a burst of fragrant umami. That all seems a distant memory now. The air looked thick with moisture, as if that is even a phenomenon here as I reached out towards the film-wrapped botanicals. Stretching it wouldn’t work, neither would puncturing it with the end of my sampling cartridge. As I desperately searched for a way into the film, it was as if the entire field moved, swayed, ever so slightly.
(ssshssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh) [rustling of the synthetic film as vision begins to blur]
Why am I here? If these lights are still on and these fields are arranged in such a uniform fashion, it must be mankind’s doing…
As I conservatively adjusted the valve for a sip of water, just enough to moisten my lips, I caught a looming, semi-transparent structure at the corner of my eye. Was it a disproportionately large Arecaceae? Or was I falling back into back into an unconscious with the heat and weight of the suit…who knows.
There must be source of liquid I can extract somewhere.
II Opus Tabernam (11°27’08.3″S 6°10’51.9″W)
(bzzzzzz……krrkkke…) [static signals crackles through the headset]
There it is again, must be some kind of interference with the equipment in here. Stepping into the fuselage of what resembles the payload bay of a passenger orbital spacecraft, an incandescent light guided me through a maze of objects in suspension.
Chair, navigational charts, wrench, depositor, chair. It went on forever.
Levitating above, but just under the payload doors are a collection of relics, objects and samples sealed in contamination boxes. Lit with a cool, blue fluorescent tube, it was hard to make out what these were, apart from a radial, parametric form that pulsated ever so often. Stranger still, was a table that stood before me, with some exoterrestrial artefact placed next to the incandescent glow. An Altar? A Shrine? What happened here?
They used to call something like this an ‘Act of God’, according to the scriptures. Am I to be redeemed?
(bzzzzzz……krrkkke…base…) [static signals crackles through the headset]
Base? I need water. My head is banging again.
Something’s not quite right, it feels like someone left in a rush.
Log Entry 1822: 7 Luna Hours since Waking, water at 15% capacity, record current coordinates for refuge, note recent inhabitation and gravitational field failure.
III Arcuatum Cultum (11°22’21.6″S 6°11’22.9″W)
Walking down the cobbled ground gave a sense of respite, after navigating the unforgiving terrain. The arches under my feet felt tender and sore after plotting my course towards the beacon indicated on my console.
(krrkkke…Rendezvous at Sixteen…Beacon Kepler…One Niner) [radio crackles through the headset]
That’s been going on for a good few LHrs. now; if anything the haze seems to be getting thicker. As I approached the towering columns that rose above the surface into crumbling vaults and into expanses of exoterrestrial landscape, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease, and abandonment. Rows of chairs that were perfectly spaced, equidistant from each other sat untouched, gathering thick layers of vapourspheric particles, as a decommissioned satellite rested precariously in the distance.
I couldn’t help but wonder, how many lives roamed the planet before it all happened? The signal from the beacon grew weaker, and eventually vanished off the display. Three lamps stood directly in front of me, flanked by overturned chairs and a lunar capsule. The orange hue from the sky was slowly turning into a muddy brown.
Carefully lifting the storage compartment out of the capsule, I found a slurry of overexposed photographs and inscriptions, none of which were intelligible.
(L-O-W – 10% Remaining) [read the water tank callout]
What I assumed to be a ceremonial fountain was drained dry, or simply evaporated; whichever came first.
(Major Otto Kraus, krrkkke… Do you Copy? Respond if Affirmative.) [radio crackles through the headset]
Copy, Who Are You and Where Am I?, I replied as the signal cut off again.
So I’m not alone, was I born here? Was I sent here?
Too many questions, all I need is some water.
IV Cratere 016-CB (11°56’14.3″S 6°13’30.0 “W)
“Walk North, out of the Crater”, those were the instructions from the Commander.
“When you reach Waypoint 017-CB, by the Apollo Marker, we will send a recovery team.”
The uphill climb was the worst. I tried to conserve every drop of sweat and lick it, but the salt only made me thirstier. The sky turned a deep turquoise and was eerily quiet as I approached the waypoint. Empty and upturned barrels sat next to the semi-buried Apollo spacecraft. Overlooking the crater, I realised, just faintly a few lights nestled between the canyons and craters. I thought to myself, what is this place, was I sent to salvage these settlements and most of all, what happened here?