Clarke Belt City

The Clarke Belt City:

This is is a name for a ring of space settlements that completely infill GEO. For a basic building unit, I used teh "Stanford Torus" design for a space settlement, designed in the mid-1970's for construction at L-5, one of the Lagrange libration points equidistnt from the earth as the Moon is, and forming an equilateral triangle around the Earth, with the Moon as one of the triangle's points. A point of relative stability for things placed there , L05 would be subject to the harsh radiation environment from cosmic radiation and from the solar wind, so it was a wheel-shaped mile diameter structure which rotated to provide artificaial gravity inside the wheel, and was partly shielded by a non-rotating passive mass shield.

The radiation environment in GEO is not unlike that at L-5, so these space settlements would also use the non-rotating passive shielding technique, but instead of using lunar slag as shielding mass, would use water ice reinforced by sawdust frozzen inside it, and shielded from the Sun by aluminum foil; the use of water ice as the shielding mass is in case of eventual decay of orbit into the earth's atmosphere, where it would merely turn into steam ad a bit of smoke from the sawdust.

For the highly detailed description of the Stanford Torus design for a space settlement or city, see the NASA publication SP-413, which also has a web-accessable version at

and especially see "a tour of the colony" at:

This design is utilized in the novels as teh basic city unit providing fine living for up to 10,000 people each, including agriculture and light industry inside each one. The habitable area inside the rotating wheel was about 600 feet across (200 meters). The wheel was divided up into six equal sections, and every other section was an agricultural section. Sunlight was reflected past the passive shield down into the center of the wheel, to provide light for growing the agricultureal products and sunshine for the other inhabitants, people, livestock too. The mirror enabled sunlight reception while keeping the shielding mass between most of possible radiation sources.

The Clarke Belt City Ring in the novels would have the water for the passiv eshileding brought up by a highly efficient transportation system at a cost approaching the $0.72 per pound mass lifted from the earth. All of the material for building the first of these 10,000-person each cities in GEO would be brought up on that transportation system, called a KESTS to GEO, and subsequently the majority of the cities would have their basic structural materials be brought from the Lunar resources instead, such as aluminum. But more on that in the stories.

Copyright © 2008 James E. D. Cline. Permission granted to reproduce providing inclusion of acknowledgment of the author and concept designer James E. D. Cline.