In my world, humanity has populated the stars and now lives in isolated groups in single star systems. Most people never leave the system they were raised in [interstellar travel is very unusual, but not unheard of]. In these star systems, there are many colonies, both orbital and planetside. Note terraforming isn't really a thing in this society [but I guess it could be for the sake of the answer].

I have a feeling the mindset between people born in orbital colonies would differ from those born on planetside colonies, but I'm not sure what these differences would actually be. The people on planetside colonies have grown up seeing space as just the sky, and have probably seen more flora, would've experienced weather, and would have more space to move around in [though it would still be pretty squishy]; the people born in space-bound colonies would have grown up in environments a lot bleaker and more compact, with no 'real' gravity [though there is artificial gravity via centrifugal force], and the ever-looming fact you're just in a container in a vacuum. I can find quite a few differences between the environments, but how would this affect their mindset/view on life?

For reference, the conditions vary between colonies, seeing as some are more wealthy than others [the answer only has to be a generalisation]. All colonies grow their own food [which means rations aren't AS strict but still there], and have relatively limited raw-material resources [which are mined from asteroids/moons/whatever, meaning they often have to be blasted off into space to reach the space-bound colonies], catastrophic failures are more common in less wealthy habitats but aren't super common. Communication and travel is relatively frequent, but not in early life and is generally only for work or safety reasons [say, if you want a job that requires a certain environment or something dangerous happened on your home colony that forced you to leave].

So, simplified, what would some of these differences be? Mostly in survival instincts and genuine preferences more than anything.

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    $\begingroup$ " the people born in space-bound colonies would have grown up in environments a lot bleaker and more compact" - they do not have to, thanks to O'Neil stuff, so it would be a very cheap way to induce that mental difference. Think of the following - from one planet, on which a planet colony exists, it is possible to make a million or more colonies of billions of people - so these planet living people are like hoarders who can't use the stuff they have. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ Your question is an interesting one, but I fear that "how would it affect their mindsets" is so broad as to require a book to answer it, and as such is off-topic for this site. You should narrow things down a bit. (also, rotating habitats have centri_fugal_ gravity, not centri_petal_). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime there will be some very fundamental differences in the mindset (many of others will be just a consequence). I would suggest for the question to ask for these differences. For example: survival "space born: I can't sleep in silence - silence means nothing works, so I may be dead in the next minute", "planet born: I can't sleep into a noisy environment, when I sleep I can't distinguish the noises that means danger from the rest of them". $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ I do not think the needs simplification and such - it is just not possible to narrow it. Adding more stuff may be a nice thing, but it does not matter that much, as anyone who answers will keep their future expectations as the source where they fish for the answer. In general, the question is legit, a better answer to it will help make a better fiction. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ To me, this really seems like something you ought to decide for yourself. It's a truly complex question touching on all the arts and sciences and can easily be the primary theme of a sci-fi novel or the like. There's not really a right answer, or one that would do the topic justice in a few paragraphs. Of course you can infer what might happen based on things we know, but how you do that is really personal and kind of depends on your feelings about humans as a species. Everyone else is going to have their own ideas (and maybe should write their own books—the topic is certainly deep enough). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 22:03

12 Answers 12


Claustrophobia vs Kenophobia

If you are born on earth, you are more likely to develop claustrophobia due to having access to open spaces and enclosed spaces being more dangerous. But if you are in an orbital colony without artificial gravity you are more likely to develop Kenophobia, the fear of wide open spaces. If you get untethered in a space walk, or get stranded in the middle of a large room, you may rightly fear large open spaces where you can’t get one or more handholds.

Mechanophobia vs Zoophobia

On earth there are plenty of animals, and even non-nature obsessed people deal with insects, birds, and mammals on a fairly regular basis. But many people are not constantly surrounded by technology like one would be on a space station. So just like a person might fear being in cased in technology, space colonists might fear animals. On a space colony everything is mechanical, and to a point, predictable. Animals don’t fit that archetype, and therefore can cause fear as to a space colonist the animal behaves like a malfunctioning piece of equipment.

Weather and rituals

On earth there are various way to deal with weather, such as raincoats, umbrellas, or other mannerisms to avoid water or wind damage. In space people might have similar rituals to speed up space walks or zero g transit. Just like some people take stairs two at a time on earth, space colonists will have people who climb two rings at a time or run down the ladder by pulling quickly to glide down the ladder. In the same way most people quickly put on shoes most colonists can quickly don emergency air and simple propulsion systems. You never forget how to ride a bike, and you never forget how to maneuver a EVA module.


On earth, black is associated with evil, and it is only found really at night when no light is present. In space however everything is black, and not automatically evil. Therefore, black might seem to be less of an evil color. On the other hand, certain shades of red would be seen as evil, as from a young age children would learn that a computer screen with a red warning is the harbinger of bad news. Yellow would similarly be bad in space. Since space food might be rationed and not packaged differently from earth food, it is possible therefore that red and yellow will have less impact on people’s appetite over time, or even have negative impact if people start to dislike red and yellow slightly.

Direction words

People born off planet would have different words for direction, as describing the world in relation to the station is often important. Corewards (up, regardless of position on the rim of the cylinder), spinwards (with the spin of the station), antispanwards (against the spin), sunwards (directly towards the sun), and other words might become commonly used in space when no equivalent exists on earth. Instead of thinking in 2D these people will think in 3D. Instead of flat surfaces, people in space may think in curved surfaces more intuitively due to their practice.

Throwing things

In artificial gravity thrown objects don’t behave like objects thrown in real gravity. If you throw a ball up in real gravity, it accelerates to the ground again, with no lateral component. But in a centrifuge the ball has a trajectory up and in the direction you were traveling with the centrifuge. This makes it trivial to find speeds you can throw the ball up and have it land somewhere else. Depending on the speed and size of the centrifuge this can lead to very different ballistics, station to station. Also, some pitchers could easily throw a ball into a continuous orbit by cancelling the horizontal speed of a station on a throw object by throwing it antispinwards at the speed to cylinder is moving. The best space colony baseball or American football player could come to a planet, or another station, and look like a fool due to their memorized throwing being off due to the different ballistic physics of the new environment.

  • $\begingroup$ Woah, this is super helpful. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ lol, @sprout do not take this answer too close to heart, it some low-quality space live, I guess, judging by that - "Since space food would be more scarce and not packaged like normal food" -- lol $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ Throwing things in particular is something everyone takes for granted until it doesn't work. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ Well done! I would also argue that appetite for risk is different. Space dwellers might be much more careful when placed in risky/unknown situations because the consequences tend to be more dire (e.g. sudden loss of air) $\endgroup$
    – Carsten
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ On colors, you may want to add that red & yellow also indicate fire, which is extremely dangerous in a space habitat, so from a young age everyone would be trained to watch out for red & yellow. Plus yellow is the color of the sun (at least on Earth) and considered a good thing - but in space it is basically white. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 15:35

One not yet mentioned is Time

In a space habitat it's arbitrary. Depending on history they may stick with Earth hours, days, weeks, years, or if Earth is a long-distant memory they might go over to something decimal. 100,000 unit "days", where a unit might be a second, or something a bit shorter if human physiology isn't well suited to days 15% longer than on Earth. (Personally I think I'd love them).

I expect shift working would be the norm. If people spread themselves out into 3 shifts, there no particular reason to choose any of them. Also in the (recent?) past, a space habitat would be somewhere that needs continuous supervision. Problems can become life-threatening and need to be fixed when they arise, not postponed to the next weekday morning.

On a planet it's dictated by the rotation of the planet and its orbit. These are natural clocks forcing our bio-rhythms, and it wouldn't make sense to fight against them. Waking up will be synchronized to the sun rising. A lot of things depend on the seasons and the associated weather.

  • $\begingroup$ I was just thinking of this :) $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 2:30

Some of the main differences:

  1. the economical values of born-in-space is going to be a lot geared away from what-you-own. In extreme, you can't get to own the entire colony: if you pretend to own it, enough of people disagree with your ownership and will throw you in the recycling vats to offer you a taste of ownership; because you can't just "emigrate to New Zealand", see? More (or... very?) likely, the value of an individual will stay in what-you-do.

  2. very likely, the consumerism will be regarded as a moral failure by the spacers. You cannot have cheap externalities in a closed small world, where there's no natural ecology to keep you alive. Waste is going to kill you faster than - e.g. - today's global warming (which may be kicked-the-can to future generations, just let me have my cheap gasoline today)

  3. recycling - spacers will eat their dead ancestors for million times

  4. spacers will be terrified by silence (something is broken, at least the air conditioning should be humming) and sudden gusts of wind (is the hull breached?)

  5. colony spacers will value community above the individualism. For that reason, they'll see gossip as a duty, trustfulness as critical when it comes to social standing (and will punish the baseless defamation a lot harder, because character assassination is just one step below actual physical murder).

  6. colony spacers have a lower personal space and can't get how bearing firearms can be anything but an idiocy.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 3:27

Spacers will Favor Totalitarianism Compared to Planet Dwellers

Since the OP mentions orbital habitats using centrifugal gravity, and self sustaining economies, I will assume that his space colonies are on the scale of a Stanford Torus or O'Neill Cylinder putting the average population somewhere between 10,000 to 140,000 residents each.

The first things to consider is that these colonies are not virgin lands being colonized and exploited ad hoc: they are planned, financed, and build by a government or corporation with some purpose already in mind. This means that every housing unit, every road, and every store front has been planned out with an exact purpose in mind before any colonists arrive. So, your first wave of colonists will distinctly not be residents; they will be employees, each hired to do a specific job which makes these habitats very similar to Company Towns. However, with a company town, if you have some business idea of you own, you can set up shop just outside of town limits and do what you want, but in a space habitat, "just outside of town limits" is the harsh cold vacuum of space. So you either do the jobs that are available, or you don't get to live there at all.

In fact, capitalisms of any sort will not be tolerated at all. Let's say you want to open up a bakery, but all of the areas already dedicated to bakeries are being run by other people; so, instead you buy a vacant housing unit and run your bakery out of there... sounds harmless enough right? But what happens if you are successful? You will want to open more bakeries. So you buy up more store fronts, but soon you start running into sugar and flour shortages; so, you buy the soy sausage factory and convert it to a mill and you buy some of the greenhouse modules; so, you can start mass producing your baking ingredients. Now, your colony has changed its supply to meet demand which is a normal part of capitalism, but your colony is not designed to change its supply. Your greenhouses may need to expend more power to grow wheat instead of soybeans which may cause rolling blackouts. Your increased wheat production may also means that your soil nitrogen will quickly become depleted causing a station wide famine. On Earth, these problems are easily solved by just creating new farmland and power plants somewhere else, but you can not do that on a space habitat without a massively expensive and time consuming overhaul of the whole station. By the time your market adjusts to even a small disturbance (by planet standards), a significant portion of your population may already be dead.

It actually gets more harsh than this though. Because humans are unpredictable, your leadership needs to impose strict rules over human lives to make the operation of the habitat more predictable. This means that every commodity and service will need to be rationed. New generations of workers will need to be educated for and forced into jobs they may not want to do to keep supply chains from fluctuating. And the population will need to be kept from growing or shrinking outside of the station's capacity. Without strict leadership like this, you don't just risk disrupting the balance of the habitat's economy, you risk very rapid run-away supply shortages that could lead to the death of the whole colony.

As time goes on the companies or governments that founded a colony may collapse or otherwise lose direct control over it, but by this time, you population has already lived through a few generations of absolute anti-capitalism. So, even after gaining their independence, they will continue to need the company-town style of governance which is so important to their ongoing survival. So they will choose dictatorships over democracies to enforce these unpopular but necessary policies.

In contrast to this, constantly increasing technology and a much less volatile ecology causes world economies to change quickly and tolerate mistakes. So, the farther we get into a being a space aged society. The more important the flexibility of a free capitalist society becomes.

In short, the inflexibility of totalitarianism that makes it unsuccessful on an advanced world is exactly what your spacers will need to survive.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 3:31

Views on Safety

On planet has a high degree of inherent safety. If your habitat catches on fire on earth, you can run outside stark naked. There are some climates in which you would have to worry about your life in a matter of minutes, but nothing like the danger of going outside your habitat in space, where the clothing required is extensive.

Likewise, the air is going nowhere on the planet. Minor pollutants, like smells, can be fixed by venting, and it doesn't even affect the quantity of air.

Solar flares and asteroid hits are vastly more dangerous in space if you don't keep your habitat up to spec.

If there is any danger of zero-g, you have to ensure everything is fixed in place without the artificial gravity.

Consequently, people in space will have safety drilled into them from infancy.


There are good answers already, but i think there is one aspect that wasn't covered yet.
I think that on a space station, people will think of themselves much more as a member of a group than as an individual. Mutual survival depends a lot more on cooperation, and a maverick can never survive on their own.
I assume that there will be regular safety drills, and that every able bodied person will have a role in them, in addition to their day-to-day-occupation.
On a habitable planet, people can live much more on their own. Obviously, neither is exclusive, and both are to be taken with a grain of salt since people are still different.

So i assume that people from space stations tend much more towards collectivism, while people on planets tend more towards individualism.

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    $\begingroup$ –This is really interesting. I didn't think of this at all. Thanks for the suggestion! $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ "There are good answers already" - No. But this answer is somewhat good and looks at a general perspective of things. The last sentence, eeeh no, but okay, it's okay. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg what's wrong with the last sentence, in your opinion? $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ I would say there is no such division, it is just more apparent how people in space get more if they act together, but in reality we always, no matter the place and environment get more when we act together and we always do that since the very ancient history - it thanks to that we have all we have today. Any society, any country is that collective group that benefits from cooperation and suffered from lack of it. As therms collectivism and individualism it may be charged a bit with certain philosophical works and practices, but it is all superficial, it always has been collective work. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ I do agree with that, it may be the case, because codepenance is more apparent and people may always keep it in mind and do not forget it, do not drop out of considerations and less of mentality, for some people, we may escape at any time. And my comment about last sentence may be nitpicking. On the other hand 10's of millions people in one habitat as structure or as cluster of structures - it does not have to have any special unusual mentality - it can be the same as in some big city. They do not have to be as consolidated as those mafia-style belters from The Expanse. // Your answer is good. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 9:07

Okay, I'll bring my version of the space activity on the table, and take look at the answer present, here, their arguments, so as try to fish a little for the answer OP asks.

  • Figure out how colonies work --- @Graham
  • By definition, an isolated colony has to be self-supporting, otherwise it dies. --- @Graham

This is very good advice and a very good statement, unfortunately, the rest is so so.

Yes, fundamentals are derived from fundamentals, and what are the fundamental differences between living on a planet or in space.

Space, volume, surface

One of such fundamentals is - space is big, and a planet is small, and that has consequences.

As an example, if done right it can be a difference of energy available as per person or as per colony basis. Today on the planet we use around 6kWh per day per person, on average - it covers industries, it covers gas/energy used on transportation, so its averages on a scale of countries. So much energy per person is enough to run everything we know, observe, and is not enough for anything we do not do - proper recycling as an example.

  • 6kWh per human per day is more like industrial countries average, worldwide is something around 2.4kWh (based on this if we multiply and divide)

In space for a colony size of the same 7-8-9-10 billion people, let's take 10 billion and 10kWh per day per human. In space, it means some solar energy production facility a square of 126km by 126km if the efficiency of energy conversion is 20%

Everyone can have different opinions on feasibility, but if we assume it possible, both for earth and space - and just focus for this case on the placement problem - in space putting this structure, one-piece - not a big problem, space - you have it, unlimited one. On a planet, or more specifically on a planet like earth atm, making the installation in one place, one can say Sahara, because they imagine it all 9 million square km of sand - which is not true. I mean picking a place for the thing isn't that easy and multiple factors have to be considered - not only for what and how energy is transported, but how materials are transported, how to service the thing, borders, ecologies, etc etc. One can say it is not feasible to build such a big thing in space, I can argue about it, but it is for sure not feasible to place the thing on the planet.

What about bigger stuff - a million square km? a billion square km? - in space, you name a number and if you have enough materials and capacities to build in space - you can have it, it is just a matter of - do you need it or not. On a planet - eeh, you may need it, but you can't have it for a list of reasons.

  • and this is how you have enough materials to build stuff in space, not only this but it is one of the options

As a side note on space

  • It is funny to look at those planet belters, which barely scavenge for piny amounts of energy for their survivial on a planet, from oil wells they say, and do not know what to do once it runs out, I laughed my ass off when I heard of it - @Some unknown O'Neil hab №9233 citizen

Initially, I was willing to go through all space is poor arguments, food is bad and such, but unfortunately, I have no time for it atm. But space having worse conditions for living is a very popular misconception. Space is potentially the most prosperous place one can live in. If you live in a society where the average energy is 6kWh per person per day - everything you see, everything you have, everything you use is the result made on this energy budget. And for space live this energy budget can easily be 100x, for your personal needs, with space induced energy consumption overhead to be covered by another patch of solar "panels" in space.

And who is poor then? Isn't it you? People of the planet who can't afford 2x energy expenses to have 100% trash recycling, for trash you produce and you scatter it all over the place - what are you so proud of?

I do pick recycling as a marker because it on its own isn't a problem, we can do it, we have technologies, we have the knowledge, it is not that much different or more sophisticated than getting a few grams of gold dust from a tonne of rocks. We could be doing it for a long time ago - but we can't afford these extra energy expenses - it is all because we are energy-poor on this planet. And it reflects in many things we do and in the ways we do.


  • .... you can't get to own the entire colony: if you pretend to own it, enough of people disagree with your ownership ... --- @Adrian Colomitchi

This is another fine example of a planet guy thinking his planet things. Diving too deep in it is probably too much, but - why one should not own a colony, be our host, if we like it - we will live in it, if not, we kiss goodbye and make our own colonies and move to a better one.

On this planet, there are about 200 countries that are members of the UN. Some are big, some are small, some are prosperous some are not. But they all share one property, common for them all - they can't change their neighbors.

Imagine 10'000 space habitats, in space - small big, more successful, or less successful. They all can share the technologies, so it may not matter in terms of technologies available for them, for reasons out of the scope of the answer, but it starts as Graham said - "be self-sufficient, or die". Being self-sufficient in space is a necessity, and some may see it as a curse, but it is also a blessing.

So imagine all those space habs - besides technologies they share the capability to move those space habitats between orbits. yes, maybe not the fastest process, maybe not the easiest one, but some people here even think about how to launch space habitats in an interstellar voyage, so moving a few thousand km's or a million km, or changing orbit is a less ambitious task.

But it also means you can choose who your neighbors are. Being a neighbor in space may have a bit different taste in some aspects, then on a planet, but in essence, it is the same. So people aka colonies may cluster based on their good relationships. But also, if things develop not like as expected, they can leave the union, physically if required, taking their home with them.

Same on a smaller scale, and differently is true for space habitat itself, it isn't a big deal to build a second one if some community has 50/50 split - they can "divorce" without anyone losing too much in the process.

  • surprisingly it may work even for One Man army, at least be quite close to it.

Techo bubble, space survival requires it .... but so as the planet does

It is true, for only one planet, maybe only one in the galaxy - one can live using a rock as a pillow and covering himself with a leaf. Our ancestors did so and we can imagine that this is a low-tech level of life. (do not be fooled, however, it still requires plenty of knowledge, or death is imminent)

And when we look at space, we see, those who do, that in space you do not have the so-called "safety net", and technology is what keeps you on-float and alive.

And some do point on that valid difference and say - see, that is why space sucks and who one would live there at all, here on earth we are so safe because of ...

  • At least it was what they were saying in the pre-corona era, I mean some flaws are more obvious today, than a few years ago, but it is not the point.

Living like our great great great ancestors - eating bananas and covering ourselves with nothing - is now a luxury that not many can afford, and honestly is way less attractive in reality. On the planet we already depend heavily on the technologies we use - we depend on it for everything, maybe besides air, the rest is exactly like in space - if it breaks we start to die. On other planets - there is no difference with space, but limitations and problems of a planet 10x and up.

If we do the same for the planet, imagining like break down of a toilet bring down the whole station and everything there, if we do the same for the planet, for 90% of people outcome as of today, will be not less grim. But all that are just fantasies, good for a horror story, but which have nothing to do with how things are made, how things are designed. The only space thing most planeters can imagine is ISS, but transferring all the properties and problems of ISS to normal big colony installation, space habitat, is like comparing a tiny boat with a luxury cruiser - there is some similarity, they all float, but that pretty much where it ends and differences being.

I mean, Graham's advice - Figure out how colonies work - is very good.

Just a random one or the scale of things

It is part of big space thinking and that recycling.

Let's take this one - planeters are worrying about their planet getting a bit warmer - okay understandable, indeed the thing works out of spec they are used to, and it may have some negative and positive consequences, so for sure it is a thing to think about how to avoid bad and get the good stuff, it understandable. But then, what are they doing, what are solutions - planeters run around like headless chickens, instead of figuring out how to build a sun umbrella for the planet and earn additional benefits along the way. They like kinds in a box, who haven't seen the world.

Scale, the scale of problems people can take care of, people in space can take care of planetary problems - they have sufficient resources and opportunities, but when we look for a solution for planetary-scale problems within the planetary capacities - it indeed turns out to be a problem which yields nothing for decades over decades.

A guy in space can take the challenge because he can, the other question is just - is it interesting or not. For planet guys - they can't, they are limited in everything everywhere - they have to survive and do not break additional stuff, and thus it a different choice a different perspective for them. They are like ants, who see nothing but their anthill.


I'll wrap it here, even if there are more. But indeed first of all You have to understand the question - Why space? - so as the answer to it, then you can start getting some answers on differences it has.

here, real-world example - what planeters do - they laugh and downvote this, but for a space guy, it can be a history of how it was done, how they did come into existence, to what they should be grateful, in a similar way how planeters should be grateful to their ape ancestors.

I do not expect it to be some significant division line, no more that difference between city and village folks, I mean everyone is good and useful it just village is all they have soo, ...

Joking, lol.

Earth as a planet is an exclusive thing, it is very important for people, no matter are they in space or on the planet - it is a biological library and many things as consequence.

And people living on Earth are the library keepers if they are.

But mars guys - who wish to make second earth from the Mars planet - that is a, hmmm, to be polite, not very smart. You can be anything but that, you can be for research there, which is very important and may require millions and millions of people, hundred million people or more, or be a tourist there or anyone else besides those who wish to make second earth from the Mars planet.

About other planet colonies, there is no point in comparing them because of the absence of them for multiple reasons including practical ones. And if we compare space habs with the origin, then mental difference does not matter, people on Earth - they are there for keeping the library, for keeping the origin home working properly and they should have a proper mentality for that task. And if they aren't happy, welcome to space - gates are always open, for the land of opportunities, open at least for the next thousand years.

  • $\begingroup$ I enjoyed reading this. It has a nice flow and you make a lot of great points. And, honestly, I think that your idea makes a bit more sense than the standard Sci-Fi version of spacers. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, this was a pretty interesting read. $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ happy you liked it) $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 22:52

Figure out how colonies work

By definition, an isolated colony has to be self-supporting, otherwise it dies. It's fairly easy to see how a terrestrial colony works - after all, we're living in one! And once you're terrestrial and you've lost the resources to get to orbit, it takes more effort to rebuild the skills.

For a space-based colony though, you have many questions to answer. Hydroponics isn't magic, and there's no such thing as a perfectly sealed habitat. So where do they get their raw materials from? And more to the point, why did anyone decide to settle anywhere? Why not just keep moving?

I think the living space thing is a red herring. If you have enough resources, you can build anything you want.

I think you're heading a long way into asking for a plot-based answer here though. The native characters of each group will of course be whatever the plot needs them to be!

  • $\begingroup$ -Yeah I thought it might be a little too plot-based. I'm pretty much just asking how people would realistically act from these environments to give myself a better idea of how to craft the characters, since I don't know how people work :) $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 23:02

Language and recreation are going to differ greatly between the two cultures. Words like "breach" could well take on obscene overtones on a habitat that just don't make sense to a planet-born. Habitats are also going to have their own wordless communications that don't translate to grounders at all, a language of audio tones and identifying symbols, alarms and hazard labels that tell space-born when and where and how to move safely through the hazards of their environment.

Habitats are going to be extremely stressful and regimented environments where many recreational activities that planet-born take for granted can't be allowed. Space-born are going to find new ways to play or are going to take "normal" activities to extremes. Any form of entertainment that can be had without risk to the community and its home will be embraced as a diversion from the ever present stress of living inches from vacuum.


Speed of life

Space is big. Ridiculously big. It's so big that even light has trouble traveling that. Your spaceborne population might be in the trillions, but these trillions are smeared over very many habitats that are each still relatively small in population - a few million tops? And any two habitats would probably be further from each other than roughly a light-second of a distance. So there's the first problem: communication. The internet as we understand it won't be possible up there. The lag will be from seconds to half a day, in extreme cases. So this puts a limit on information spread speed and how interconnected these colonies are. Every colony would be more akin to a small isolated town with an abysmal internet connection, and there would be no megapolises or data hubs.

Next, there's physical transportation. Even with ridiculously efficient spaceship engines, it will take anything from days to months to travel between two habitats. So it's not just a small isolated town, it's a small isolated town located in the asscrack of the world, the furthest corner of Alaska or something.

As a general consequence - if something happens outside of your habitat, you can't learn about it sooner than seconds to hours after it had already happened, and you will be able to do anything about it only from days to months afterward. Compare that to a gravity well dweller, where everybody's a few hundred milliseconds away from each other, and you can reach those anybody's within a few hours tops. Planets will have an absolutely breakneck speed of life from the POV of the spacers, who will have a culture more reminiscent of the pre-telegraph era somewhat, related to their views on time - when "urgent matters" were needed to be resolved in like preferably this or next week, while for the planet dweller an urgent matter demands attention immediately, and even an hour of delay might seem like a criminal waste of time. Global trends can change in just a few minutes, and so on. The land-dwellers will be impulsive and fast to act, while station-dwellers will tend to ponder and think things over calmly and carefully when they're not about their immediate surroundings. Limitations of space travel speeds and light lag mean that "hurrying up" is useless. Something's happened at another space habitat but it's a month of flight from you - then it's really doesn't matter if you send a spaceship with help immediately or tomorrow - it won't affect the outcome, they either manage without you or they'll be dead long before the ship will arrive.

  • $\begingroup$ commenting on this very fresh post from mars orbit, just saw it - do you see any difference? $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Never thought about this. It makes quite a bit of sense, especially within my world [I am also a fan of things taking ages for some reason]. Thanks for your contribution :) $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 20:51

I wouldn’t call their environment bleaker and I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be more pro/anti individualism or socialist, what I would expect is a different understanding of risk. Space is not safe and it can not be made safe. This can play out in a number of different ways, from laughing at danger to obsessively trying to reduce danger at all times, but this is going to be an absolute difference between the two environments: what one will consider a dangerous and life threatening situation, the other will consider Monday morning.


Non of the answers have mentioned mass so I will do here.

For a space bound moving mass in and out of a gravity well requires fuel.

This means that for the space bound the mass of something will be the most significant part of it's value.

Taking this further, for the space bound, casual nudity will be accepted, you live in an environmentally sealed container, it costs to get clothing shipped around, you only need it for protection anyway.

Water is expensive to move around so for the space bound conservation of water is paramount.

Also things get recycled a lot more on space stations so the space bound will recycle human waste and dead human bodies. Where as the planet bound, having all that empty planet, would dump the waste and set up graveyards.


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