In a world with limited space travel (basically, people can travel between different moons but not to other planets/galaxies), the ongoing form of government decided to build a perfectly placed Capital city for its nation, one that can house plenty spaceports for trading and military. What would it look like, in terms of geographical location and urban planning?

A few points I've considered before:

  • Spaceships are big and require a lot of space to be "stored", so I imagined it should have a lot of vertical space, like those big vertical garages.
  • At the same time, you wouldn't want the terrain for your perfectly planned city to be uneven. So you'd want the city to be on flat lands.
  • How would you defend such city from spaceship attacks? A dome? How to make it so that commerce can easily come and go but you'd still have the advantage over enemy armies and ships?

Edit with more info:

  • This is a sci-fi scenario with multiple alien species coexisting in the same system. They live in 4 different moons orbiting a gaseous planet. Big spaceships are used for traveling between moons and smaller urban ships are used in cities for daily activities. There are no other planets in this solar system, so space travel is restricted between moons.
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    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome :)! I have a few questions : (1)How costly is it to move out and into a planet? Like today's space tech, like if you took a plane? (2) What do you mean by "people can travel between moons but not other planets"? (3) Is it based on our solar system? If not, can you detail the system they're in (how many habitable planets/moons...)? (4) Did people move out from one unique planet or did they develop at different places before getting the "easy space-travel" tech? $\endgroup$ May 30, 2021 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ What is the purpose of the capital exactly? Capitols are usually centers of governance, not dedicated military bases or trade hubs. A government focused capitol may have its own defense forces in place that aren't mainline military to protect it from military coups. Trade hubs have a lot of heavy traffic, making them much harder to secure. It is much easier to sneak in bombs or personnel into a city that ships hundreds of tons of goods daily. Mundane things like industry, warehouses, barracks, and other buildings can also lower the look and prestige of a capitol. $\endgroup$
    – yolo man
    May 30, 2021 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ @yoloman I was thinking it was mostly building to be a pristine trading center, the "spaceport of the universe". Something along the lines of the Citadel in Mass Effect. So both government buildings and trading hub, maybe divided in very strict "areas" so to speak. $\endgroup$
    – Arin
    May 30, 2021 at 2:52
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    $\begingroup$ Why would you want spaceships anywhere near large numbers of people? Why would you want your city on flat ground? That's so boring for people who live there. And since this is presumably a society with tech at least equal to our own, why would you want a capital city at all? Have you never heard of telecommuting? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 30, 2021 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ @DWKraus: No. Really dumb to have one big computer, since it's a single point of failure. Rather, you have a distributed network that, like the internet, is designed to be failure resistant. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 30, 2021 at 3:43

1 Answer 1


It depends on the symbolic aspirations of the founders of your city

A 'Planned Capital City' allows the Urban Designer (or other entity placed in charge of design) or leaders to implement principles that are considered important to either the nation or the time. This is distinct to other city planning, as Capital Cities have both government and symbolic significance.

So, for instance Canberra was designed 'from the ground up' as a capital city for Australia: enter image description here Canberra was envisaged as a capital that 'joins' all the state capitals together. Symbolically, these are represented by streets that meet 'in the middle' to where parliament sits (called 'Capitol' on the map above) with satellite functions elsewhere.

However it doesn't stop there - if you look at the 'capitol' you will notice that it is actually a small hill. This symbolically means that the most important aspect of Australia that joins everyone together is the land. The Flag or Australia is actually not planted in the hill, but suspended over it, symbolising this further: enter image description here

Even parliament sits underneath this hill, with public galleries overlooking parliamentarians, symbolising again that member of parliament serves the nation, not the other way around.

So your Capital City, if planned from the beginning, will reflect the aspirations of your nation. If it is democracy, expect equal regard to all your moons. If it is dominance, expect monumental architecture accompanied by grand boulevards and very strong axis.

It is important to the leaders of your nation that the Capital City planning represents the nation, as opposed to a standard city, so expect the design of your city to represent these principles.

In fact, this would easily override other factors such as trade and defence, which would likely be relegated to outskirts of your city (although, having these on the outskirts of your city gives practical benefits too, allowing for expansion and large industrial and trade facilities not associated with symbolic centres in the middle).

  • $\begingroup$ As an Australian, I knew that was a map of Canberra before i even read the title. So to further flox's answer, it should also be recognisable and unique. I saw the triangle with the lakes and went "yup, that's Canberra". If it's just equal sized city blocks in rows, it's not going to be very memorable. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    May 31, 2021 at 2:20

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