Transhuman Space - The Republic
From Transhuman Space: High Frontier
Lagrange 5 is the region of gravitational stability located 60 degrees behind Luna’s orbit around Earth. An object that is placed there will continue orbiting the L5 point, while being carried along by Earth and Luna as they orbit the sun.
Both the L4 and L5 Lagrange points say stations established in the 2030s and 2040s. This was the boom time era of astroid mining, and both of the Lagrange Points were the destinations of nickel-iron and carbonaceous asteroids that were boosted to feed Earth’s space construction needs.
Things changed in the 2050s. The effort to build the huge Islandia colony in L4 resulted in a shift in population and income away from L5. Unable to compete, the majority of the L5 factory stations were eventually shut down, or sold to non-commercial concerns.
Although L4 was an economic backwater, its under-used space stations were appealing to certain groups seeking to get away from it all – especially those who could not affort a step farther out to Mars or the asteroids. The first “fringe” group to see the possibility of aquiring a cheap second-hand property in L5 was a group of wealthy Christian hyperrevolutionists who in 2065 bought the old Vechicle Factory 4 from Vosper-Babbage, and set about creating the community they named Seventh Heaven.
However, full-scale settlement of L5 did not begin until the 2070s and 2080s. The precipitating even was the development in 2070 of relatively cheap cellular repair nanosymbionts. First sold to spacers, they soon became popular in microgravity stations in Earth orbit and L4. The availability of DNA repair and microgravity biochemistry nano made it practical fro people to live in inexpensive, poorly-shielded space habitats.
That’s just what happened. There is plenty of old space junk sitting in Earth orbit. Most of this material was usually deorbited or allowed to burn up when its orbit decayed naturally, but some useable habitats were in high orbits. They were suitable and – more importantly – cheap, especially if one wasn’t too picky. There were plenty of junk cleaners and other spacers who could be hired to tow it to a Lagrange point; L5 gradually accumulated a huge collection of improvised habitats, assembled from obsolete satellites, work shacks, fuel tanks, boosters, and mined out “Swiss Cheese” asteriods. It also got a new nickname: the Junk Jungle, scrap heap of the solar system.
Since the 2070s, and in particular since the Pacific War, the “junk jungle” of Lagrange 5 has become home to an ever-expanding tribe of exiles, junk scavengers, retired vacuum cleaners, dissidents and homesteaders. Many of them are economic refugees or members of obscure ideological groups. Some arrive from Earth, but most are castoffs of other orbital stations, L4 stations, and lunar society. They come seeking opportunities, privacy, or simply an escape from persecution.
In recent years, the exodus to L5 has actually increased. The Pacific War (2084 – 2085) produced an influx of homeless orbital refugees, mostly from TSA stations that were no longer supported by their governments or too badly damaged to stay operational. The Olympus Project has caused even more movement, as over the last decade, System Technologies has been paying companies to vacate orbital properties that stand in the way of its planned space elevator. Many of the evicted tenants have sought cheap alternatives in the Earth-Lunar neighborhood.
The L5 point has become a huge trailer park in space. There are currently abut 2,400 house-sized or larger habitats orbiting within a hundred miles of the Lagrange 5 point. The individual colonies range from a few dozen people in an improvised beer-can habitat to several thousand people in a second-hand station.
The key difference between L4 and L5 is that most “Elf” colonies are started by organizations that lack the funds to either settle on Islandia or construct their own purpose-built colony. As a result, L5 has a profusion of “squatter” settlements assembled by fringe religious, social, and political groups. While there are some success stories – such as Cornerstone and Seventh Heaven – even many of the larger stations tend to be operated on shoestring budgets. Most L5 stations are short-lived ventures, some are run by tyrants, criminals or bizarre cults, and many teeter on the brink of economic ruin, life-support failure, or utter chaos.
The smaller L5 colonies are not self-sufficient, but since most are only a few dozen miles from their nearest neighbors, individuals and groups can and do eke out a living through contract work with larger stations and factories. A few better-organized groups have also located here for the cheap labor and real estate. This means that there are some factory stations, research stations, and even artist’s colonies scattered among the eccentrics, hobos and ideaologues.
No accurate census of L5’s population has ever been made. Many of the colonists are not hospitable to people prying into their affairs, and some of the larger stations have artificial wombs and cloning to replicate themselves. The best guess is that 40 to 50,000 people live at L5, in nine medium sized colony habitats and 250 smaller stations (some very small). Most are found within 10 – 100 miles of each other, in a cluster that completes one orbit around L5 every 89 days.