The Asteroid Belt

Spread out over a massive region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the Main Belt contains a few hundred asteroids greater than 100 kilometers in diameter, over a thousand objects greater than 30 kilometers in size, and countless smaller ones. Despite this, the total mass of asteroids in the belt is only a fraction of one of the inner planets, meaning that asteroids are spread out over great distances. A spacecraft flying through the belt is highly unlikely to encounter an asteroid unless it deliberately navigates toward it.

The rich, easily accessible mineral deposits in the Belt were a major link in transhumanity’s first steps toward the outer system. Automated mining and high-impulse ion boosters enabled outer system colonists to move metal-rich Main Belt asteroids into the orbits of Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond, where metallic asteroids are much scarcer. This activity continues to this day as transhumanity pushes further out into the system.

Hundreds of small habitats, mostly involved in prospecting activities, dot the belt. Distant from Earth, settlements in the belt were largely spared the devastation of the Fall. Both hypercorp and autonomous outposts flourish here. Derelict habitats abandoned when nearby asteroids were boosted into the outer system or depleted are common here as well, though some of these are now occupied by residents who are best left to their solitude.

Body Ceres

One of the system’s dwarf planets (along with the likes of Pluto and Eris), Ceres is almost 1,000 kilo- meters in diameter and hosts a population of almost a million. Unlike most Main Belt asteroids, Ceres has an icy crust with a layer of liquid water beneath it, like a miniature version of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. With its abundant water, Ceres has a major role in resupplying other stations in the belt. Similar to Extropia, Ceres operates largely along anarcho-capitalist lines.

Habitat Extropia

This massive beehive habitat is a major crossroads and anarcho-capitalist/mutualist marketplace. Extropia is a neutral free city whose infrastructure and social fabric is maintained by a loose associa- tion of anarcho-syndicalist af nity groups. Extropia’s neutrality hinges on strategic alliances between key local figures, their networks, and an unusual array of outside interests that include the Lunar banks, technolibertarian factions, and outer system colonies dependent upon raw materials exported from the belt.

Habitat Nova York

One of the more unusual near-weightless habitats is Nova York, the main city on Metis, a large nickel-iron and silicate asteroid located in the main belt. Nova York, the third largest habitat in the main belt, is a thriving metropolis of 500,000, with the main portion of the city located in a spherical cavern approximately four kilometers in diameter, the top of which is two hundred meters beneath the asteroid’s surface. Lit during the day by a series of huge light tubes in the outer walls, at night the lights of the buildings cause the surface of this sphere to resemble an enormous geode.