#The Asteroid Belt

The Asteroid belt is where all the action is, since the surface area of the exposed rock is huge.

Any viable society needs a constant flow of goods and services to be healthy.

The H2Lift Ships are the commercial link between all of inhabited Sol.

The Asteroid belt supplies raw materials to the Luna manufacturing plants and any other takers.

Small scale manufacturing is possible, but most of the material goes to Luna due to its proximity to major markets and virtually unlimited quality power to run the manufacturing and assembly plants.

Many asteroids have a low, constant amount of solar energy impinging solar cells to manage the local environment.

Solar power is converted to electricity and used as is or captured via photosynthesis. Any extra energy extracted from solar flares are stored in batteries or hot rocks.

The temperature difference between the solar side and the dark side of the rocks can spin turbines, trapping energy in small on-board batteries or converted to heat.

Small cities have sprung up around the larger rocks, and some innovative miners have moved groups of small rock settlements into identical orbits to make colonies.

The larger asteroids have micro-gravity, which help in processing ores and crystals.

#Power

Like all isolated communities, they waste nothing, everything is recycled.

While the solar insolation at 2 to 3 A.U.'s is relatively low out in the belt, it is constant, bar the rare dust cloud or rock's orbit intersecting yours.

As any small child knows, solar radiation is converted to electricity or used during photosynthesis. Some of the power can be used to heat rocks as a storage system.

In addition to solar cells, the asteroids can use temperature gradients to generate power.

Miners drill through the rock and use the temperature differential between the solar and dark sides to turn generators, after stabilizing the asteroid's spin.

#Water

Water is the limiting commodity on the rocks. It can't be manufactured and is too expensive to import.

People living on an asteroid with a little or a lot of extractable water have a gold mine, but better.

On the backside of living (so to speak), it is easy to extract water from any food, human or animal waste.

With unlimited cold space, the waste is placed in a semi-permeable membrane and double bagged. Set outside, it quickly freezes, the water sublimates and captured in the outer bag as ice crystals. The resulting freeze-dried waste product is ground up and composted then added to the algae ponds.

Fortunately, the vacuum acts as a rough sterilization system to kill most (but not all) bacteria.

Viruses, not actually being alive, are pretty much immune to vacuum conditions. Likewise, spore-forming bacteria and fungi can resist this simple sterilization procedure.

Secondary sterilization using focused U.V. light can inactivate the viruses and any other hardy organisms.

Autoclaving the waste is an option on asteroids with abundant power but can be a little noxious when taken out of the 'clave.

#Farms

The off-earth citizens do try to grow their food, but without gravity, plants grow tall, fast, and mushy.

Lignin is just too loose and wimpy without the pull of gravity. Fruits, grains, and vegetables are just not as tasty nor nutritious as those grown in normal gravity within one astronomical unit of Sol.

Algae, unlike the angiosperms, don't require a lignin infused stalk in a zero-g environment and grow quite well in a liquid home.

The algae are used for air treatment and food, if you have a lot of spices or no sense of taste.

As is typical in any society, groups take on tasks based on their skills and knowledge. There is an active exchange trading or selling skills and wares.

If you have power, you can grind grains into fresh flour and meal and press many types of seeds for cooking oil.

Those asteroids with water can either cook and can the grains and beans for storage or trade.

Selling water is rare since once it is gone, it is hard to replenish.

Water is the limiting commodity on the rocks. It can't be readily manufactured and is too expensive to import from the only place with abundant water: Earth.

People living on an asteroid with a little or a lot of extractable water have a gold mine, but better.

#Aquafarming

Salmon, trout and whitefish fry are small and light and when full size, tasty.

They are grown in water tanks hanging off asteroids with phytoplankton and zooplankton.

The cycle of life is complete in these tanks: Phytoplankton harvest solar energy, zooplankton eat the phytoplankton, fish eat the zooplankton and humans eat the fish. Human nutrients (sterilized) feed the phytoplankton. All are reasonably happy in a zero-gravity bubble of water, except the humans who aren't really aquatic.

#Needs

Supplies from Earth are always in demand in the Asteroid belt:

  • Medicine

  • Chemicals, household and industrial

  • Computers and bio-engineered equipment

  • Fabric, clothing, trinkets and fine jewelry

    >because everyone wants to keep up the latest fashions.

  • Spices

>to kill the taste of algae paste.

  • Sugar

>cause we all need that!

  • Grains and legumes

>Cooking oil is typically extracted from some grains materials,

>although imported liquid olive oil is quite the status symbol.

  • Coal for coking and power generation

  • Fish and shrimp eggs for aqua farms

  • Wood, if you are rich enough to build a deck on your rock.

>Redwood and bamboo valued for their lightweight and durability against the sun and vacuum.

>Hardwoods such as teak and oak are prized for their beauty and strength. You can show off your money since they are quite dense and heavy and thus costly to transport, as are the owners.