It was an industrial revolution – foamwelding. So, what was it, this ‘foamwelding’ ?
In short the Indians came up with it and it had started spreading all throughout the archipellago in the last months. Previous construction costs were counted in ‘adjusted euro’, and the typical L4 habitat cost a fortune. Terasem 1 was one of the old space structures, still welded in the old manner, and still emblazoned the commissioning date and UN serial number 2034-003-Terasem1 on the outer Hull. As spindles went Terasem-1 was an orthodox, cautious, conservative design schematic that wouldn’t have looked out of place as centerfold in the original 1970s ‘the high frontier‘ – wide sunflower loosely draped mirror surface slowly rotating like a jellyfish, draped taut around the much quicker rotating 0.7G cylinder of the main habitat. Though painted industrial yellow in large sections it was an old beast, 25 years and nearing total tax write-off by now. The first immigrants had started clearing out for the bigger Twin Habitats in solar orbit.
This was of course all made possible this new phenomenon called foam welding.
There was a certain melancholia towards the transition. A lot of old AR welder operators lost their job and had started retraining. The pot-bellied old timers were complaining about the new Chino-Indian habitats. ‘soulless husks’ they called them. No creak. Brooding whales. The old habitats like Terasem, they groaned a creaked –they sang in the solar wind!- because of tidal friction and solar heating. The old Lagrange habs were all victorian and plated and with rivets. The new habitats were solemn and quiet, like placid whales hovering mid-ocean. They were built by inflating a massive psoluon bag with cement and nano-agents, heating it with lasers and letting it harden in a solar surface and then settle in the cryogenic cold of an foil umbrella ten miles wide. The old habitats took 3-4 years to construct and cost 20 billion adjusted dollars – an insane amount probably ten times that in dirt (flatlander) dollars. The new habitats cost a fraction, and were several times bigger.
Whole economies had slaved for a decade to get the first habitats up and running, voters that had protested with violent clashes in the screaming twenties had long since forgotten. Economies had kickstarted in overdrive and economic growth in space ever since hovered between 10 and 20%, annually, and half that growth rate had ever since rained down on earth – even backward places on the dirt ball now benefited from an average SSPS energy costs 0.8 (unadjusted!) dollar cents per KwH. The earth had been dragged kicking and screaming from poverty and misery in the 2030s and had entered a near utopian state of steady state bliss. Half US, Japanese and EU populations now lived with the realization that ok, they’d probably live centuries. Voluntary aging was now tax penalized severely. Nobody except 3% of populations worked more than 12 hours per week.
Ironically it was a biochemist called Manoj that had developed the vacuum foam welding process here at the Terasem-1 ‘distributed archipellago faculty for for nano-industrial engineering’ . So one of the ‘old’ and ‘pioneer’ habs had contributed to space becoming littered with these new big whale habitats in solar orbits, each with half a million people living in or around or near them. The development of foam welding or ‘space concrete’ was becoming cause and reason and rationale for turning the 1AE median halo around the sub into a belt of space surburbias. 56 twinhabs and counting, and new ones being added at a rate of one per 3 months. Liftport Emigration couldn’t even keep up dragging dumb-ass colonists from the gravity well, have them shipped into what was known on earth as ‘lag zones’ (most of them were light minutes hours distant from connectivity with the earths comhalo) and it was actually tricky getting the right kinds of colonists to come to these places. Only old people, some if them over 140 in age, born in the subhuman dark ages of 20th century history, actually wanted to emigrate to the twins this day and age.
(to be continued)