This is an extension of my first question, and precisely as Jim2B suggests, I want enough time to pass on my network of space stations for their inhabitants to forget why they're there, how they got there, and even that there's a world outside (the stations' windows have been permanently shut). How would you construct a network like this and where would you position it to give a better chance it will survive for a long time, at least in part? Slate gives the ISS 5 years, but these stations would have been built to keep humanity safe while ~as of yet unspecified disaster~ raged below them, potentially for centuries. Is a thousand years before the stations begin to come down simply inconceivable?

  • $\begingroup$ a thousand year is heck of a long time in any sense, your escape pod should be able to withstand the conditions during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere else what were the scientists been doing during that period of time? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jul 31 '15 at 4:20
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    $\begingroup$ The Earth has remained in orbit for about 4.5 billion years. The Earth's orbit might have changed slightly over that period, but it hasn't plunged into the Sun or been thrown out of the solar system. So, well, it's just a matter of which orbit you choose... (Now, if the space station will actually survive and remain habitable for the desired length of time is another matter.) $\endgroup$ – user Jul 31 '15 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ That's no moon... $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jul 31 '15 at 19:28

It's perfectly conceivable. The reason the ISS has such a short live span is because the geeks who made it wanted to skimp on the price of fuel, so they let it hang in a very low orbit where it is subject to atmospheric drag. I would suggest, if you're interested in the safest place to put a space station, L4, orbiting the earth and trailing the moon - that way any debris will likely be plowed out of the way.

On that note, assuming such a level of sophisticated tech, it would probably be much safer to burrow into a small moon or large asteroid, and build your colony under a few km of solid iron.

You might also consider an extremely eccentric orbit. A long orbital period would be a natural plot device for systems on the station which would need to wake during perigee.

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